SIX SIGMA and its Role in Quality Management
Sung H. Park Department of Statistics, Seoul National University Kwanak-ku, Seoul, 151-742, Korea email@example.com Abstract Six Sigma was introduced into Korea in 1997, and it is regarded as a fascinating management strategy in many Korean companies. First of all, the reasons why Six Sigma is fascinating are given and a smart way to introduce Six Sigma is illustrated. Seven step procedures to introduce Six Sigma are explained. Next, the differences of problem-solving processes for project team activities for R&D, manufacturing, and service areas are compared. Third, a typical process for R&D Six Sigma is proposed, and major activities and scientific methods at each process step are suggested. Fourth, some differences between Six Sigma project team and quality circle team are presented. Finally, a Six Sigma model for e-business is proposed and briefly explained. 1. What is Six Sigma? Sigma is a letter in the Greek alphabet that has become the statistical symbol and metric of process variation. The sigma scale of measure is perfectly correlated to such characteristics as defects-per-unit, parts-per million defective, and the probability of a failure. Six is the number of sigma measured in a process, when the variation around the target is such that only 3.4 outputs out of one million are defects under the assumption that the process average may drift over the long term by as much as 1.5 standard deviations. Six Sigma may be defined in several ways. Tomkins(1997) defines that Six Sigma is "a programme aimed at the near-elimination of defects from every product, process and transaction". Harry(1998) defines that Six Sigma is "a strategic initiative to boost profitability, increase market share and improve customer satisfaction through statistical tools that can lead to breakthrough quantum gains in quality". Six Sigma was launched by Motorola in 1987. It was the result of a series of changes in the quality area starting in the late 1970s, with ambitious ten- fold improvement drives. The top management with CEO Robert Galvin developed a concept named Six Sigma. After some internal pilot implementations, Galvin, in 1987, formulated the goal of "achieving Six-Sigma capability by 1992" in a memo to all Motorola employees(Bhote, 1989). The results in terms of reduction in process variation were on-track and cost savings totalled US$13 billion and improvement of labor productivity became 204% increase during 1987-1997 (Losianowycz, 1999). In the wake of successes at Motorola, some leading electronic companies such as IBM, DEC, Texas Instruments launched Six Sigma initiatives in early 1990s. However, it was not until 1995 when GE and Allied Sigma launched Six Sigma as strategic initiatives that a rapid dissemination took place in non-electronic industries all over the world(Hendricks and Kelbaugh, 1998). In early 1997, Samsung and LG groups in Korea began to introduce Six Sigma under their companies. The results were amazingly good in those companies. For instance, Samsung SDI, which is a company under Samsung group, reported that the cost savings by Six Sigma projects totalled US$150 million (Samsung SDI, 2000). At the present time, the numbers of big companies applying Six Sigma in Korea are exponentially growing, with a strong vertical deployment into many small and medium sized enterprises as well. Through the consulting experiences of Six Sigma in Korea, the author believes that Six Sigma is a new strategic paradigm of management innovation for a company to survive in this 21st century(Park et. al, 2000). Six Sigma implies three things; statistical measurement, management strategy and quality culture. It tells us how good our products, services and processes really are through statistical measuring of quality level. It is a new management strategy under leadership of
the top management to create quality innovation and total customer satisfaction. It is also a quality...
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