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Six Sigma Is Just Common Sense
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These articles are from the Six Sigma SPC Newsletter and other publications. All articles written by Jim Winings

This is from the Newsletter Dec 2000-Jan 2001

There have been several companies try and fail to get a Six Sigma program off the ground. There are several key points to get a Six Sigma program up and running.


From the CEO, President, or just head honcho, down to the least paid person in the company. If one person isn't committed, IT WILL FAIL or at least take 10 years to get going. Motorola had this problem in the beginning.

First off, the Semiconductor Product Group informed me they didn't have a need for Six Sigma their products were good enough. So I told my boss, who told his boss, who called Bill Smith and the next thing I knew they were onboard. Now of course they preach it.

Right after that there was a reorganization of the quality and purchasing departments in the Communication Sector. My boss, I got a new boss, this guy wanted to implement the Taguchi's System. So him and I crossed swords right away. I was trying to implement what corporate wanted and he was trying to convince them he was right. So he transferred me out of where I was, which was helping the suppliers get onboard with six sigma. Well, needless to say, he doesn't work there anymore.

Reasons like these are why Motorola had a hard time defining Six Sigma, but as they worked through it, it came together. Sometimes there are no choices. If the people will not accept it, then you have to get rid of them.


Do not forget them. You must be partners with them to make it work. This may mean helping them improve their processes or other issues. Remember they may not have the resources of a bigger company. Share your resources with them. But do not tell them how to build their products. They are the experts in their processes. However, if they are not a good partner, or cannot produce Six Sigma quality, then find one that can. This is also related to one above. This is why Motorola had me create the software they sent to their suppliers. So everyone was playing with the same tool and it didn't cost the suppliers an arm and a leg to get started.


This is the concept that everyone is a customer and you need to meet that customer's requirements. Sometimes one plays a dual role. For example, Motorola was a customer to their suppliers, but when I helped the suppliers start Six Sigma, they became the customer. My boss was a customer, he would request things done, and go figure, I would do them. But sometimes, I would need him to do things for me. Then the role switched and I became the customer. This back and forth must go on from the highest point in the organization to the lowest. This is why number one above must work first and foremost. Otherwise you start working against each other.


The teams must have enough power to make it work. The workplace becomes a little more democratic. Because of this, you need to make sure that the direct manages of the team members are not on the team. Sometimes it is the managers that are actually causing the problems. There needs to be a mechanism in place so that this doesn't happen or can be identified and fixed. The more political you company is, the less likely Six Sigma will work.


It is important to find people with common sense and get them on the teams. Finding out who in your company has common sense is another issue. But make sure to identify these people and get them on the teams. If you cannot identify them, then bring in a contractor. You may want to bring in a contractor anyway. Sometimes it takes an outside party to see the obvious. This was the point of the last couple of articles on Six Sigma. Common Sense!

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Last Updated: Saturday, 15-Apr-06 19:47:41 PDT