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Learn Six Sigma Process and Methodology Basics | What is 6 Sigma Concept ?

Updated on June 23, 2011

What is Six Sigma Concept? Should I learn it?

The six sigma concept was first found by Motorola and later supported by giants such as GE and Allied signal. Six Sigma promises to convert the defect-prone companies into perfection lovers by inducing more accuracy in quality measurement process. The philosophy of the six sigma policy is quite simple still its implementation may be quite painful, but the final outcome will be huge unforeseen development of the enterprise. It is said that in a developing countries around 25 percent of the manufacturing sector’s turnover is lost due to poor product quality. In India almost Rs. 8000 crore worth goods produced nationally end up straight in scrap yard everyday. Usually we fix one million products as the standard for calculating the defects percentage. A normal enterprise would be having around 3 lakh to 7 lakh defects per one million products produced. This clearly indicates that, if anything is missing in those places, it is definitely quality. Learning Six Sigma process and concepts from the fundamental basics can really help you revolutionize your company. This insight had given rise to high demand for Six Sigma certifications like black belt and green belt in quality management.

'6' and the 'Sigma'

Learning Six Sigma Concepts | What are the Six Sigmas?

Sigma is a letter of Greek alphabet (the symbol near ‘6’ in the image). This symbol is used to indicate the extent to which a process can vary without causing any errors in the operation. The six sigma process theoretically provides a methodology to quantify and improve ‘quality’. There are 6 sigma states for an enterprise. Lets see what is sigma is deemed to be.

Meaning of All Six Sigmas

One Sigma
6,90,000 defects per million parts produced
Two SIgma
3,08,000 defects per million parts produced
Three Sigma
66,800 defects per million parts produced
Four Sigma
6,210 defect per million parts produced
Five Sigma
230 defects per million parts produced
Six Sigma
Process will yield no more than 3.4 defects per million opportunities (DPMO)
Each of the six sigmas explained. An oppertunitiy is defined as a possibility that a process or product does not conform to predetermined standards- This ensures 99.9997 percent perfection in the process or product. Note : DPMO – Defects Per Million

Practical Insights about Six Sigma Concepts

Most of the World Players --> Operates between three and four Sigma--> Defect rate of 66,000 DPMO

If A company operates in 6 Sigma --> Defect rate 3.4 DPMO --> This is called “WORLD CLASS QUALITY

If a company operates on two sigma 30-40 percentate of sales is used up as cost of poor quality (COPQ) . If a company operates on Six Sigma then the COPQ is reduced below five percent of the sales and this eventually gives “HUGE SAVINGS” to the company. By adopting Six Sigma approach the organization will become better in all business aspects like:

  • Customer Satisfaction because of better quality
  • Return On Investment as sales increases
  • Employee growth as the have the proud feeling of working in a world-class company.
  • Increase in share price as demand and preference of customer increases

Learning Six Sigma Methodology For Implementation

These are the 8 steps to be learnt to implement Six Sigma concept. This is methodology is called “R-DMAIC-SI”(Recognise, Define, Measure, Analyse, Improve, Control, Standardise, Integrate).


The first step in the methodology of Six Sigma is to conduct a survey to determine what you are now , and where you want to be using Six Sigma concept. Find a starting point by verifying the right spot in culture, procedure or planning.

Six Sigma Methodology Diagram


Quantify your expectations and define the specific sigma your like tore reach in specific time period. Also define the activities that would help you.


Measure the existing system and understand the drawbacks. Establish new metrics to monitor the goals in previous step.

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Identify the gap between the current performance of the system and the target aimed at.


This is the part of six sigma which makes the wonder happens. Follow the methodologies defined earlier to achieve improvement in specific fields. Focus on improving things by adopting creativity to do things in a better, cheaper and faster manner. Statistical tools can be used to measure the progress in this field.


In order to maintain a superior output after improving the system, it is essential to monitor the critical value system level parameters.


Standardize the new system. This is done by analyzing a set of reports till date and choosing the most optimized methodology which successfully completed the tasks. This will keep the system fool-proof and help to avoid re-documenting things everytime.


In spite of all the assured benefits of the Six Sigma concept, there will be resistance to change during the execution of methodology. Learn to handle complex situations when Six Sigma is implemented, use creativity to deal with unexpected situations. Finally you will learn Six Sigma methodology fitting as a part of your enterprise and make it ‘world class’.

Do you think the about listed methods are enough to achive the 6 sigma state today?

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    • Theocharis V profile image

      Theocharis V 

      7 years ago from Piraeus, Greece

      Very useful hub. As an MBA Professor who is teaching these methodologies, I have to say that it is very well written.

    • brainmeasures profile image


      7 years ago from India

      i very much liked your hub, i found it interesting and informative.


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