Within a Six Sigma business process, a broken process indicates that quality or delivery times are not meeting customer objectives and results are varied. Managers must eliminate defects first and then improve processing time.
The seven types of deadly waste that Six Sigma experts focus on are defects, overproduction, inventory, overprocessing, unnecessary motion, transportation and waiting. The Six Sigma concept strives to flow continuously--once the process starts, it should go from step to step flawlessly, producing the same outcome each time.
Variable outcomes cause frustration with customers and employees. Employees and managers waste time “firefighting,” or answering irate customer questions, instead of producing more products. Instead, fix the broken process so that it doesn't reoccur in the future.
Define the process and make it repeatable by instituting standard work instructions first. It shouldn't matter which worker or machine performs a job. If there is variation from people or machines, find a way to reduce or eliminate this variation by standardizing.
Six Sigma has largely been used in production worlds that use heavy machines to do many tasks. While the automotive industry has perfected operations in their factories, managers can apply Six Sigma tools and techniques to any business.
- process flow image by Christopher Hall from Fotolia.com