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Sigma Six

Updated on July 15, 2010

Sigma Six is a quality management program designed by Motorola “that measures and improves the operational performance of a company by identifying and correcting defects in the company’s processes and products”. ( The basic principles of Sigma Six are that there are six degrees involved in ensuring that the company produces products that fulfill the customer’s requirements for a quality product and at the same time allows a company to drive “rapid and sustainable improvements to processes”. ( The Sigma Six concept operates off of the following three levels (as defined by Motorola University):

  • Metric- goodness and quality
  • Methodology- understanding customer requirements, aligning business processes to achieve these requirements, utilizing extensive data analysis to minimize variation and driving rapid and sustainable improvement processes
  • Management- aligning business strategies to critical improvement efforts, mobilize teams to attack high impact projects, accelerate improved business results and govern efforts to ensure sustainability

In addition to these concept levels, Sigma Six’s basic methodology breaks down further into DMAIC. Each part of the acronym plays an integral part in the processes that make up Sigma Six and the habits they instill into their leadership teams.  The following is a break down of each part of the acronym as provided by

  • Define opportunity
  • Measure performance
  • Analyze opportunity
  • Improve performance
  • Control performance

In order for these concepts and ideology to be affective there are also leadership habits that Motorola prides itself on.  These habits are focused on “delivering customer value, focusing on execution, sound, data driven decisions, managing performance, advocating breakthrough improvements and supporting team based implementations”. ( Each habit also breaks down into various parts that define them and separate them from the other habits but at the same time bring the components into one full concept that allows the previously discussed topics to be successful.  Delivering customer value focuses on the leadership habits of exhibiting passion, utilizing active listening and communicating partnership.  Focus on execution is a habit that focuses on results driven performance, utilization of resources and following processes set up for the team to be successful.  Sound, data driven decision require management to use their critical thinking skills, be decisive and hold themselves and their employees accountable for their actions.  Managing performance is done through setting goals, tracking progress and managing details.  Advocating break through improvements requires leadership to be assertive, influential and have the tenacity required for rapid change and maintaining sustainability.  Last but not least, supporting team based implementations requires leaders to not only manage their teams but also reward their teams for a job well done.


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