Six Sigma and Karate

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    Nov 22, 2012
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Six Sigma and karate have similar principles. Both have colored belts to identify the level of knowledge a person has achieved in the practice of the “art”. Black Belts will teach the other people.

Karate is a martial art requiring self-control and confidence. Six Sigma is a process improvement strategy requiring business self-control and monitoring. Motorola developed Six Sigma in 1986 and used it in their product manufacturing. It aimed at reducing the product defect rate to 3.4 per million.

Large companies often implement Six Sigma with another process improvement strategy called Lean, which aims at eliminating non value-added steps in a process. Combining the two has demonstrated more efficient improvement projects.

Implementing Six Sigma is expensive however the returns on investment are substantial when the program is well managed and “championed” by Senior Management. The program must be part of the company’s strategic planning and must be implemented by all employees of the company in a Top down and Bottom up manner.

One of the first steps in implementing Six Sigma is to determine the program leaders. The main Champion is normally the President of the company. The Master Black Belt is often a senior engineer knowledgeable in process development and improvement. The Master Black Belt will become the mentor for all of the planned and approved improvement projects. He / she will preside the improvement committee and participate in the strategic decisions and approval of projects.

A company may have many Black Belts. They all report to the Master Black Belt. Black Belts will contribute in training change agents and forming process improvement teams. The change agents are called Green Belts and they often represent different departments in the company such as Production, Engineering, Test, QA, Contracts, Purchasing, Human Resources, etc.

The role of Green Belts is to propose improvement projects and later to act as facilitators in process improvement teams. The teams are always formed with the people doing the process. An employee participating in process improvement will better understand the new process and follow the newly written procedures.

Teams have many tools to choose from and will select the method best suited for the problem at hand. Changes may be immediate or might need exhaustive analysis before failure causes are uncovered. When the team has determined the corrections, the process is modified and documented in a new procedure. The process is monitored to ensure the failures no longer occur.

Six Sigma is a process improvement strategy championed by Senior Management comprising planning, analysis, solution, implementation, and monitoring. Similarly to karate, black belts are involved in the training of people to acquire the art. Six Sigma is the art of lowering product cost and improving yield.

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Virginia Montgomery is a stay at home mom who enjoys writing articles for Interesting Articles.

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