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Six Sigma for Dummies

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Six Sigma for Dummies

Define, measure, analyze, improve, control - and get results!


15 min read
10 take-aways
Text available

What's inside?

Six Sigma pursues quality with methodical precision. It's statistical and tough – for dummies maybe, but not for sissies.

Editorial Rating



  • Applicable


Authors Craig Gygi, Neil DeCarlo and Bruce Williams will attract both plaudits and brickbats for this book (no wonder they needed a foreword from Stephen Covey). Six Sigma, originally devised as a method for reducing production defects, has been elevated to a business cult whose jargon and methods are zealously guarded by a priesthood of consultants. This cadre is bound to regard skeptically any step toward making Six Sigma plain to the general business public. getAbstract recommends this manual because it successfully walks the tightrope between detailed technical analysis of Six Sigma methods and common sense terminology that is comprehensible to ordinary oxygen-breathers in the business world. Though it gets too heavy on statistics, it also avoids short cuts and fluffy Six Sigma-lite. The book does not delve into the recent trend toward using Six Sigma for carrying out change initiatives. However, given that its objective is to make professionals Six Sigma literate, this oversight is well within the acceptable range of variation.


Quality Is Job One: Cause and Effect

Six Sigma is a way to solve problems and improve processes. If you can imagine producing a million units of any product, and only having an average of 3.4 defects among them, you’ll appreciate its standard of excellence. Very few companies can attain that level of quality. Generally, Six Sigma is a systematic process designed to stamp out error and inconsistency, and to generate profits through improved results. Because it relies on statistical measurements and proven methods, it has been called a bridge that connects science and management.

Six Sigma is deterministic. It emphasizes the cause and effect relationship between the factors that influence a process and its result. It also identifies and controls the correct variables to "force" a successful outcome. Inputs added together result in outcomes, and if the outcome is unsatisfactory - for example, poor yield and high defects - the inputs must be flawed. In Six Sigma, undesired outcomes stem from "variation," which can be defeated by processes that consistently deliver particular desired results. If you cut variation sufficiently, your process will produce high quality. Six...

About the Authors

Craig Gygi has helped teach and implement Six Sigma at several major corporations. He is a Master Black Belt and develops Six Sigma software. Neil DeCarlo learned Six Sigma at a Florida company that won the Deming Prize for quality. He has written or ghostwritten more than 150 articles and six books, and worked extensively with the original co-architect of Six Sigma, Dr. Mikel Harry. Bruce Williams first encountered Six Sigma at a Baldrige Award-winning company. As a member of the Hubble Telescope development project, he studied how small breakdowns lead to major failures. He founded two Six Sigma research and technology firms, and is CEO of a Six Sigma consulting firm.

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    A. 9 years ago
    Honestly, I have a problem with negatively charged words like dummy in the context of helpful and serious things like 6 SIGMA. Hence the question arises: is it possible to express (intended) simplicity in positive words.

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