Six Sigma for the Beginner



Greetings to all six sigma folk.

I am in need of some leading and advice regarding getting started in gaining knowledge of six sigma, would you send me information that will get me started in my quest.

Best regards

Elsmar Forum Sponsor
Having begun The Six Sigma Way (Pande, Newman, Cavanagh), finding it generally, unreadable and the concept not particularly different from TQM, am remiss to give it much attention. Of course, the concept is great, though not understood by most in the workplace. My quandary is that I am sure management will want to start saying '6 sigma' all over the place at any moment and it will go the way of TQM after a lot of miss-training by some consultant. Obviously, a dummy, where can I get a 'Cliffs Notes' or '6 Sigma for Dummies?' My tediometer is just about overfull from bad starts with new concepts from mahogany row.


I don't think you'll find that much on the tools for six sigma...I didn't. I went through black belt training not knowing what to expect.

My opinion is black belt training is a graduate level statistics course, with two exceptions. First, the program offers a specific road map of the tools you should use and in what order they should be used. Second, the program teaches how to save money during the project, whereas a stats course would tell you to wait until the end to draw conclusions.

These are just my impressions, but I thought it might help. By the way, I am sold on the concept.


Kevin Mader

One of THE Original Covers!
There are many programs available, books, and other instructional aids. Browse the internet and you should find a host of potential items.

I am afraid that my position would be to discourage your trek until you have had a chance to explore the pros and cons. For me, the current six sigmas programs are littered with cons. When the tool is used properly, it can be of some use. However, this is not the case in general. Missing ingredient: profound knowledge.




I have just read the Six Sigma Way and thought it was a reasonably good introduction, albeit repetetive and longer than necessary. (One of the respondents to this thread spoke negatively of this book. i would be interested to know why, and what books are recommended and why).

If one believes this book (and probably other books on the subject), Six Sigma is the greatest thing since sliced bread.
How many firms have really embraced this and can point to concrete positive results?

Equally interesting to me would be any stories of firms that have tried and failed with Six sigma and to find out why.

Does this stuff really work? Is it too onerous to push through?

Any books that explain how to really use this approach? i.e. a case study or "paint by numbers" that takes you through the application of all activities in a Six Sigma project so that you could then know enough to start one at your own company without hiring expensive consultants?


Kevin Mader

One of THE Original Covers!
I took this from the book, The New Economics written by W. Edwards Deming in 1992. I invite the interested to read this book. At the top of page 36, it reads:

"Do not confuse coincidence with cause and effect (Gipsie Ranney). True: anyone could make a list of companys that are doing well, even though their management follows one or all of the above bad practices (WED earlier in the book covered his 14 points with examples of how things are done today with the Western Management Philosophy juxtaposed to how things should be; with anecdotes). Any of these companies might do much better were the management to learn a theory of managment.

If anyone were to study without theory such a company, i.e., without knowing what questions to ask, he would be tempted to copy the company, on the pretext that "they must be doing something right." To copy is to invite disaster." (end quote)

Many folks are jumping onto the Six Sigma bandwagon without knowledge of both sides, IMHO. In my earlier post, I suggested that further understanding was necessary prior to starting off on any trek. I believe that this is consistent with what Deming was saying in the above quote. Folks are seeing the apparent successful deployment of Six Sigma in GE and Allied Signal. It should be noted that the longterm effects of thier programs are unknown and their success may not entirely correlate with Six Sigma practices. This is fact. I am also aware of proper uses of the six sigma tool (not philosophy). A tool, any tool, properly used can yield positive results. A tool misused can cause disaster.

If GE is successful with this plan, then we will be too. Rubbish! Be careful, do your homework, and if you still so elect, try Six Sigma. It is up to you.



p.s. I have not read Dr. Harry's books on Six Sigma. I have read several of his articles and articles about him. I do not like what I see. I haven't plans to purchase either of his books in the future. Normally, I will read books on opposite opinions to mine to see if there is anything of merit in them. There very well might be something. Still, from all that I have still to read, this is a low item on a very long list of must read items.

[This message has been edited by Kevin Mader (edited 05 January 2001).]

barb butrym

Quite Involved in Discussions
Six Sigma is a new way of presenting the old philosophies and is greatly over rated...not in what it can do when implemented correctly...but in that is a NEW REVELATION...And the black belt is such a sought after recognition, a NEW recognition...maybe I am missing something but it seemd to me its plain old common sense and good quality engineering...not a phenomena to be taken lightly for sure....but give us old guys some credit. A rose by any other name is still a rose
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