The Psychology of Quality and More

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Beyond Six Sigma

~ David Straker ~


-- Introduction -- Focusing statistics for value -- Deepening strengths --
-- Adding critical skills -- Horses for courses -- References --
-- Printer-friendly one-page --

Focusing statistics for value

The statistical strengths of Six Sigma are unquestionable, but what can be questioned is whether this is all that is needed or how universally applicable it is.

Not all problems are statistical

Although statistics can be very powerful when properly understood and applied, not all improvement problems are statistical in nature. In particular, when starting improvement activities, solutions are often simple and obvious, such as where people and processes are disconnected and the answer is simply to re-create the ‘joined-up company’.

Not all companies have many statistical systems

The historical roots of Six Sigma are in Motorola’s manufacturing divisions, where most of the problems were in repeating processes, where sufficient data was readily available for statistical approaches to be of significant value. Companies and departments which are more service- or project-oriented may have many fewer problems that require statistical skills.

Not all statistical problems required in-depth techniques

Six Sigma teaches statistics at a very detailed level, for example in the many ways of measuring process capability. When these techniques are used they are very useful, but many projects succumb to simple methods, such as those taught in ‘traditional’ SPC.

Although statistically-trained professionals can make significant improvements, the real benefits can be as much psychological as statistical. If these benefits can be retained whilst focusing skills into areas which are more appropriate to individual companies and departments, then there must be potential for even greater success.


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