Stimulate some reader response by questioning the Value of Six Sigma


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the value of 6 sigma

Hello all,

I normally do not post in this subject because this is not my area of expertise. But I came across an intersting article in this months issue of Quality Digest and thought I might spur some discussion on the subject.

The article was written by James Harrington.
In the June issue of Quality Digest, I tried to stimulate some reader response by questioning the value of Six Sigma.

I offered a free performance improvement book and CD-ROM set, to the first five people who provided me with a publishable case study of a service process that was performing at the Six Sigma level. I thought I'd be deluged with hundreds of excellent examples that would be well worth my investment. Well, I still have four of the book and CD-ROM sets. But--surprise, surprise--I was deluged with e-mails agreeing with my negative position and only one "hate mail" from a Black Belt consultant, who was angry because I dared to question the Six Sigma approach.
Give it a read and let me know what you gurus think about the subject.

Elsmar Forum Sponsor

Michael T

Whhhhooooo boy!!!!

Hi Carol...

Let's see - - first of all, the "crack" being heard is the can of worms being opened... :biglaugh: Great thread!!

While I would hardly call myself a guru, I will chime in with my 2 cents... ;) I like Jim Harrington's work. He is usually straight up and right on target with his observations and doesn't pull any punches when it comes to poor quality. When I read his article - the only thing I could think was, "Amen Brother!" There have been several people who have questioned the validity and value of 6S (both in Quality Digest and on this list). While 6S has its strong points, I think that using a financial bar to determine whether a potential project merits attention is absolutely stupid. There are way too many good projects that I can think of that wouldn't directly net or save a single dime, but should be done none-the-less, because they are good for the stakeholders and hence, good for business.

Jim's example of ASQ and the video tapes is all too telling about the value of 6S to the customer. :eek: One would think that ASQ, of all entities, would have more on the ball with respect to the quality of products & services offered. Guess not. :(

By far, the most telling bit of information from Jim's article was the fact that only ONE person was able to provide him with a "publishable case study of a service process that was performing at the Six Sigma level." One? That is an incredible indictment of 6S and its value to business.


Kevin Mader

One of THE Original Covers!

Nice post! Carol, good topic!

Harrington’s article was well written. Nice capturing of the evolution process, brief but descript. However, I could give the same condemnation in regards his software. One should not throw stones if…..

I agree with you that this was an indictment of Six Sigma, more so the ideology than the tools themselves. The financial overtone is more than I can bear, I’m afraid.




Super Moderator
OK...I'll jump in on this one.

I'm not even close to a 6 sigma anything. All I know is what I read here and from periodicals. All those charts, and graphs and stuff effect me to the point of making my bowels rumble.:eek:

The point I want to address is the money thing that my buddy Kevin (hi Kevin :) ) can't bear.

Kevin are smokin' something you ain't sharing?:ko:

How long would you or me or anybody else stay employeed and well fed if business wasn't interested in cutting cost and improving profit like a bunch of Ferengi's (for all you Trekkers)?
Quite honestly six sigma should include other tools like the "Rules of Acquisition".:cool:

I think Mr. Harrington is right in his assessment of six sigma. And I believe that if there was no "PROFIT" in it six sigma would go the way of the 4 track tape.

Let's get more Black Belts, more Green Belts, Brown Belts, White Belts and whatever other guru name you can dream of. As long as they save money and make more profit in the name of quality (whatever that truly is) more power to them.

See ya



Fully vaccinated are you?
The power of the preacher will over power most of the people in the end and they will believe anything. This is to say, if you say it loud enough and long enough people will eventually believe it. Folklore is the extreme.

Six sigma as a tool - OK. But all the hype and advertising give it legitimacy it doesn't deserve.


Do You?

Originally posted by Randy

Let's get more Black Belts, more Green Belts, Brown Belts, White Belts and whatever other guru name you can dream of.
Does any body out there have a real "Belt" in the martial arts? The entire concept of using the term "Black belt" is just a marketing tool. "I have a black belt in 6 Sigma" makes as much sense as saying "I'm an Astronaut" because I got a NASA ring in a box of crackers. Anytime I see a phrase coined because of a popular theme, (the craze in Martial Arts movies), it annoys me because it designed to catch the eye with no real substance. Quality Systems are basically the same. The "fads" are catchy because those that promulgate the "system" appear to be a step ahead of the game. In fact, they don't have a clue. It's new. It has to be better. Not. We recently went through "Lean" Mfg. training and they tossed out the "Six Sigma" term repeatedly. Playing the devil's advocate, I asked "What are the advantages of Six Sigma vs the other Quality Programs.?" The obvious confusion amongst the trainers and their audience was very apparent. They were using the "Buzz Word" to try to impress the class without a shred of proof, or any information for that matter. Yes, I have a real Black belt that required years of training and discipline to obtain. When I see this term used to describe some Company's or Quality Geek's accomplishments, it makes me boil.:mad: So, let's take that Black belt in Six Sigma tools and pack it where it really belongs. Because this thread is rated "G", I'll leave it there!:biglaugh: :smokin:


Super Moderator
Hey Energy.....

On Okinawa where I studied martial arts as a kid in the early 60's a belt meant you didn't need a rope to hold up your pants (this is for real just like Mr. Myagi said).

There may be some parallel meaning with all this colored belt stuff.

Just a thought.

Al Dyer

The only belt I ever received was a black one from my mother when I "acted" up.

We all know people who have degrees and initials attached to their business cards, we also know whether those people really know what they are talking about.


Thanks Marc for the wonderful link to the unbiased appraisal of the world of six sigma.

"Mr Jones, who should I give this six sigma survey to?"
"Give it to Nutcracker, he handles all the six sigma stuff."

"Mr Nutcracker, do you feel six sigma has added value to your company?"
"Certainly it does, why else would my company spend thousands a year on it?"

"What do you feel is the single most important thing your company has gained from six sigma?"
"Are you kidding? They got me!!"

Wouldn't it be nice if just once a survey were done without involving those affected by the outcome of the survey? Sorry to be so negative but these things really irk me.

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