Quality and Six Sigma Quality InitiativeSigma – ? is most common known as a Greek letter which is used in statistics as a measure of variation, or change. Most of the people, however, dont know that ? is not only a symbol but it is also a method of quality. 6? Quality (Six Sigma Quality) is a management philosophy which has to lead to better employee performance and therefore completely satisfy the customer. Six Sigma Quality, or in the abbreviation 6SQ was first introduced in 1986, when Dr. Mikel J.
Harry tried the first project in the Motorola Company. However, the idea if it is not new. The same, or a very similar concepts are known under different names such as Total Quality Management (TQM) or Zero-Mistake-Production. Nowadays, many companies adopted the Six Sigma Quality Philosophy, among them are General Electric (GE), BMW car producers in Germany, Navistar or Thermoking.
Six Sigma involves all the employees, from the basic ones, to the top management. 6SQ requires not only training, but also the cooperation from the employees. If a company achieves ? 1, it will have a yield of 31% that means the business operations will be error free in 31%. Sigma on the stage two means error freeness in 69.
2%, number 3 – 93. 32%. All this seems to be a big improvement, but as we will see later on, it is not enough to work on the level 3, or 4, even though both of them have a very high percentage of error-freeness. Sigma step number 4 in the real numbers means 99. 37% error free operations. Most of the companies, which are working under 6SQ are operating somewhere between Sigma 3 and Sigma 4.
Sigma 5 means almost perfect result. 99. 97% error freeness, and this seems to be a dream for most of the companies. The highest Sigma level, Sigma 6 has the yield of 99. 99966%.
We can summarize it in a following table. As we may see, the improvement between each of the Sigma steps is incredible, the step ? 6 is 2000 times better than the ? 4. What do this numbers mean in the real life? If there is a ? 4 which means 99. 37 error free operations, it would mean for example that 2 planes at the Chicago Airport would be landing unsafely every day. 500 people per week would be suffering because there would be victims of the incorrect surgical operations. Or 22,000 checks would be deducted from the wrong bank accounts every hour.
Therefore, it is very important that the companies approve their quality, so they can achieve at least ? 5. What is quality and how the we achieve it?Quality can be defined as anything that enhances the customers satisfaction. Of course, the company has to satisfy not only customers, but their employees as well. Employees can be satisfied, if their needs are satisfied.
If we apply Maslows Hierarchy of Needs, we can see that peoples needs can be divided in five groups:- where the basic needs are satisfied, needs such as food, sleep etc. -where the needs of safety are have to be satisfied. -each person has to be accepted by the others-this is the drive toward self-fulfillment How can be these needs applied to Quality? If the customers are satisfied, it is predictable that their job results will be better. Therefore, the CEOs of the Company have to be aware that they have to provide people with a good environment, and then they can except better results from their employees.
For the easier understanding of the situation we can make a model Company which is called Monique Ltd. This company is producing perfumes and it has 1,000 employees. The CEO and the Work council have decided, after they saw their results from the last accounting period, that the quality as well the profit is not satisfactory. Therefore they decided to make a survey within the company how are the employees satisfied with their work conditions. Most of them said, that their salaries, as well as the social conditions are not satisfactory.
Others were worried that the working place is not safe enough. A very small group replied that they dont have the chance to get promoted. The work council became worried, and the CEO was worried as well, because both of them saw,that they underestimated the situation. The needs of the individuals were not satisfied. Some improvements were introduced.
The employees are not going to get paid according to a flat rate, but they will have as the benefit shares from the profit of the company, if the profit in the next year will be more than $1,000,000. There will be groups introduced and each group will have only one control point, not every group several. This however will require the cooperation of all employees. How to do that? Since the CEO heard about the Six Sigma Initiative and he decided to try it in his company. As the survey showed, Monique Ltd operates error free between 70 and 75%, in 6 Sigma terms between ? 2 and 3.
The CEO wanted to improve the number to ? 3-4, which means 93. 3 and 99. 7% error free operations. Since the new salary system was introduced, people started to be more satisfied. Still, there was some uncertainty. CEO believed that some training is needed.
Six Sigma Quality has a training which is supposed to teach the people how to work efficiently and error freely. Six Sigma Quality has a training which is divided into 5 parts. 1. Awareness part which should be for all of the employees2. Improvement part which is for the team members3.
Black/Green Belt Training this is is the actual training for the team leaders. It has two parts. Part one is the Green Belt Training which deals with the basic quality and improvement issues, and Black Belt, which comes after Green Belt, which is also dealing with the quality and improvement, however it much more detailed. 4.
Master Black Belts is the training for the team consultants5. Champions last, but not least the training for the management. All of these seemed to be a good idea, and therefore 3 days for each training was dedicated. The employees were asked to cooperate and sign up for this training.
Most of the employees agreed and signed up. 850 from 1,000 completed the 3rd stage Green/Black Belt training, and 10 became Master with the Black Belt. The training was not the only improvement in the Monique Ltd Company. People were involved in problem solving, and the power of the Work Council was stronger. Work Council proposed the flexible working time, which in reality meant that people could choose when it is convenient for them to come to work.
The fixed times, however, could not be changed to flexible times, because it is important that someone is there in the major times, when customers could call. This times were between 9. 30 and 14. 30.
Whenever a person arrived to work, there was a little card, which was there to be signed by the machine. In case, that the person is working longer hours that it is prescribed (8. 5 hours daily) it was also noted at the card. These hours could be added and a free day could be taken, however, the further acceptance of the manager was needed. At the end of the year the final results came. CEO founded out, that the profit increased rapidly.
Of course he was very happy about that. Increase in employees satisfaction, as we could see in our example, can lead to major improvements in the company. However there are some problems with that. In Slovakia, for example it would be very difficult to introduce low control organizations. I believe that people wouldnt work effectively, because they would know that there is no one who is going to control over their work.
Six Sigma Quality is also trying to eliminate rework, preparatory work, as well as the external and internal transfer of materials. This would not be possible, or at least now not possible to introduce in Slovakia. Most of the people who are employed in the governmental organizations, are filling their working day with reworking, inspecting and transferring. If 6SQ would be introduced in Slovakia some people would loose their place, because no re-working, or a very small amount would be needed.
There is also a problem with the flexible working time. If people could come to work, whenever they want to, sign the card and sign it again whenever they leave, I believe that they would let the card sign from the other colleagues, or they will sign it a day earlier. Still, Six Sigma Quality doesnt have only positive elements. It is trying to involve all employees in the process of quality, there are seminars, where people are taught how to work effectively. They are taught about effective working, which, in most of the cases is the common sense. Alone the General Electrics Company (GE) is going to invest $550 M only in the year 1999 for the Six Sigma Program.
(Manager Magazine, October 1999). Since GE had 293. 000 employees in the year 1998, the cost for each employee comes up to $ 1. 706.
Since we have to consider that not all the employees are willing to take part on the seminar. Some of the people view that the Six Sigma Quality is forcing people to do lots of seminars on what is the common sense saying. Simply it is sometimes viewed as a pure waste of time, because the participation on these seminars takes a lot of time. The other disadvantages include another stress for the employees who are running the quality program and also for the employees who have to be in the program. Very often the idea is not bad at all, but the employees simply do not have time to complete the tasks. Bibliography: