Well in a nutshell, Six Sigma is a management methodology to correct a system or process within your organization. When you hear Lean, Six Sigma, Kaizen, Change Management these are all improvements for processes. All of these are built around Deming’s PDCA (Plan-Do-Check-Act) cycle.
Plan– This step identifies the issues occurring, the desired goals and identifies any barriers to reaching these goals.
Do– This step is the verification of improvements within an system or process.
Check– This step will implement the new system with what I call a ‘Dummy Run’. This is where the new process goes on a trial run without any interference to determine the effectiveness of the changes and the realistic application of the proposed changes.
Act– This is the final phase and it is quite simply a decision from the stakeholders to adapt, accept or reject a new process.
Lean usually refers to providing the specific tool/skills to eliminate waste and reduce cycle time. Six Sigma usually tries to steer management towards root causes and understanding why the problem is happening and what areas of the process keep maintaining the problems. Once you have acquired the root cause, Six Sigma then seeks to reduce variation and defects as much as possible until the variation becomes a low level problem.
That is a nutshell is Six Sigma, a short introduction but more coming every week to cover the various topics of change management!