Is Six Sigma a Strategy vs. Tactic?

Previously I wrote a piece attempting to make the distinction between strategy and tactics. The natural follow on question in the context of process improvement is, “Does the implementation of Six Sigma qualify as a strategy or a tactic?”

The answer: It depends.

It may help, when thinking about the distinction between strategy vs. tactic, to conceptualize the two concepts as laying on opposing ends of a continuum. As such, Six Sigma could be considered both a strategy and a tactic, depending on the context of the question.

Execution of a Six Sigma project could be considered a tactic. This may be a specific tactic you use to reach your strategic vision. My black belt project clearly fell into this category as my organization suggested I focus my efforts on reducing the average handle time (AHT) for technical support calls. The strategy was to reduce support costs. The tactic was to run a Six Sigma project aimed at reducing AHT.

On the other hand, you might consider implementation of a Six Sigma program a strategic initiative. Your strategy might include a goal to obtain the highest reputation in the market for quality service. You would likely hire several staff along with a “Director of Quality” and develop policies that require the quality team to be involved in the development of new processes for your service products.

Why does it matter whether Six Sigma is a strategy vs. tactic? You are more likely to successfully accomplish your objectives if you are clear on whether you are using Six Sigma as a tactic vs. strategy. You can avoid the issues associated with ambiguity over whether Six Sigma is core to your business. For example, employees will be less likely to define an initiative as having failed if the initial expectation is to use Six Sigma as a mere tool (tactic) rather than a core strategy. You also avoid the debates over a business’s strategy when the management clearly defines Six Sigma’s role in that organization–even if an organization’s leadership clearly states that Six Sigma is not part of the core strategy.

Which Statistical Test Should I Use?

Once I finished my black belt training, I found that, for better or worse, several peers suddenly considered me an expert in inferrential statistical methods and hypothesis testing. In truth, I was more comfortable using the more commonly used methods in social science (ANOVA, Multiple Regression, etc.) but still felt pretty unsure about the methods I had not yet used like designed experiments (DOE) and auto regressive integrated moving average modeling (ARIMA).

The most common question people seem to ask is, “which statistical test should I use in this case?” I find that many new green and black belts tend to jump to asking what type of statistical test they should use before they have even defined the question they want to answer or developed the hypothesis they wish to test. If you find yourself in this situation, take a step back and write down your very specific question in one sentence. In 99.99% of cases you should be able to state your question in one sentence.

Now back to the original question of which statistical test to use: I don’t have a perfect answer for this question. However, in my black belt training I learned that knowing the types of data (discrete vs. continuous) and how many input or predictor variables you had helped define which statistical tests you could use.

I also found it very useful to find a mentor. But that still leaves two questions: Who makes a good mentor? And, how do I learn from my mentor?

The best mentors for statistical tests and modelling in my experience are econometricians. These are essentially applied statisticians and their training focuses on applying statistical methods to practical business questions. The only trick here is that it could be tough to find one of these rare creatures. If your organization has a marketing or business development analytics group, check there. That’s where you’re most likely to find one.

If you cannot find a mentor, I also recommend a book by Peter Kennedy entitled “A Guide To Econometrics.” Dr. Kennedy’s writing style is far more accessible than most other statisticians and even econometricians. One of the sections in the book is entitled, “The Ten Commandments of Applied Econometrics”. Another section is based on a paper he wrote entitled “Oh No! I Got the Wrong Sign!” Both of these illustrate his practical and approachable style.

The remaining question is how to use your mentor without driving them crazy. My advice here is to do a reasonable amount of research and then present your best guess to him/her on how you should test a particular hypothesis using statistical tests. Most people are far more eager to help enthusiastic newbies that show that they’re really trying. Don’t worry about being wrong. That’s why you’re asking for help.

Working through projects is the best teaching experience. The various tests slowly become second nature. Don’t give up!

What are the Six Sigma Certifications?

Six-sigma is a popular business management strategy; it identifies and removes the causes of defects and errors in business processes especially in manufacturing. Six-sigma uses a variety of quality management methods that includes statistical and arithmetical methods and calculations, with the help of creating human resource infrastructure organization. An individual who has undergone a training and tests and qualified it is awarded a Six Sigma certifications i.e. Green Belts, Black Belts etc. depending on the course done, these individual are efficiently trained individual who have expertise in the six sigma  methods.

Six sigma certifications are awarded to individual and not to the organisations but has quality approaches towards the development of the business, Individuals with the help of six sigma competencies work more efficiently by delivering better and faster work results. The better and the faster by the individuals in the organisation help in the growth and development of the organisation, the certifications are helpful for individuals of any kind of organisation. Some of the approaches of the six sigma’s for business are ISO-9000, COPC, CMMI and TS-16949 and the six sigma certification is available for individuals based on their competencies like six- sigma green belts, six sigma black belts, six sigma lean belts these certificates are like university degrees and provide great benefits to the individuals.

The six sigma’s certifications can be gained for the institutions providing the training and preparing the individuals the training facility both online and in class rooms for the ease of learning.

Candidates and organisations are attracted to six sigma’s as it grabs the attention of the business leaders, sig sigma is applied in the business working on a routine basis and the reviews are done accordingly, six sigma is also important as it is universally applicable, and the six sigma’s are implied in almost all the different kinds of industries like

Furthermore, Six Sigma certification has also attracted the attention of business leaders since Six Sigma is more of a business initiative rather than a quality initiative. It has come to the point that Six Sigma certification is now discussed in business reviews routinely. None of the earlier quality initiatives enjoyed this kind of support from business leaders. Services, software, call centres, BPO, MNC’s and especially in the manufacturing and production fields

Individuals trained in the six sigma’s have a better chance in the growth of the career as the certifications are implied for the continuous development and improvement of the individual as well as the organisation the approaches are also helpful for the overall development of the business and for the better functioning

Benefits of the SIX SIGMA CERTIFICATIONS

Six-Sigma is a set of practices to systematically improve processes of organisational development by eliminating defects. That can be failure of a product, process or service in meeting requirements of customers. Six-sigma is beneficial to both individual and the organisation, the Individuals with the help of six sigma competencies work more efficiently by delivering better and faster work results. The better and the faster by the individuals in the organisation help in the growth and development of the organisation, the certifications are helpful for individuals of any kind of organisation some of the other benefits that the Six Sigma competence provides are

  • The individual develops the ability to deliver the duties efficiently with quality and timeliness hence thebusiness is benefited.
  • The knowledge and skillset to enhance efficiency of processes and workflows helps the business in attains the prompt results faster and the individual has a chance of development in the organisation.
  • The certifications provide the individual complete knowledge of the Analytical, Statistical, Facilitation, Project Management Skills etc. which is highly demanded in the industry
  • Six Sigma as a management methodology helps thousands of professionals world over in reducing cycle times, increase the productivity and improve quality and quantity of the processes.
  • Six Sigma certified professionals can perform their duties efficiently at every level and efficiently perform the different by the implementation of the six sigma program knowledge.

Six Sigma certification programs are designed using some of the most innovative quality improvement methods from the preceding six decades in the industary. Six-sigma is designed for the different project level; there are black belts, master black belts, green belts, yellow belts and white belts certified programs

  • Green Belt provides information about the assessments with data collected that are required for the Black Belt projects
  • Black Belt deals with the problem-solving techniques and Trainsthe individual different methods of project problem analysing and overcoming.
  • Master Black Belt: Trains and coaches Black Belts and Green Belts the advanced techniques of the six Sigma program level by developing key metrics and the strategic direction. And the individual is trained to act as an organization’s technologist and internal consultant.
  • Yellow Belt: deals with the Reviewing process improvements that support the project.
  • White Belt deals with local problem-solving teams that support overall projects.