Six Sigma Training

cost-of-poor-quality-icebergWe are, without doubt, in a period of severe austerity. Most organisations have a relentless focus on cost reduction and elimination that is likely to persist for many years. It is all the more remarkable then that something many Lean Six Sigma practitioners consider essential is absent. That is the “COST OF POOR QUALITY” (COPQ).  Or, to put it another way, the total cost to your organisation of getting things wrong.

To illustrate what COPQ captures we will consider a product recall by Mattel a few years ago. Mattel identified that there was too much lead in the paint used on some toys produced in China so they instigated a product recall. The COPQ of giving lots of customers their money back and destroying the product are obvious. But what about the damage to Mattel’s reputation? How much more did Mattel spend on advertising to bolster their brand image; how many sales did they lose at Christmas. Harder to measure, but both are very real costs of poor quality.

In their book ‘Six Sigma’, Mikel Harry and Richard Schroeder provide an assessment of the likely levels of COPQ depending on your organisation’s performance based on their experiences with a wide number of organisations. Read the rest of "Cost of Poor Quality (COPQ) – The Missing Measure"

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The preliminary findings from scientists at CERN last week not only got the world excited that the Higgs Boson has possibly been found; but brought the concept of standard deviation in terms of Sigma to the public eye.


In industry, the DMAIC process is used to define, measure, analyse, improve and control processes to ensure the best possible quality and fewest defects.

Our Six Sigma courses teach the theory of this popular methodology, along with practical case studies and example of how 6 Sigma works in practice.

Science also uses the sigma symbol to refer to the standard deviation from the norm, to verify how accurate the results of experiments are.

Six Sigma Manufacturing Process

In the 1970s and 1980s, Motorola developed the business management strategy that we now know as Six Sigma. This was based on the concept that reducing defects in products would decrease costs because less money would need to be spent on repairs and replacement goods.

The agreed tolerance for defects within this methodology was Six Sigma, meaning that 99.99966% of products are free of defects. Although Six Sigma was originally the target for the quality produced by the process, it quickly became used as the name of the process itself.

Six Sigma has since been used in other industries beyond manufacturing, including that such as the service industry where the ‘product’ and ‘defects’ are measured by customer satisfaction or otherwise.

5 Sigma in Science

The concept of Sigma as standard deviations from the norm is used throughout science.

1 sigma is usually a random fluctuation (which would not be allowed in industry), 3 sigma is an event worth observing and 5 sigma is so far from the norm to be considered a breakthrough or a new discovery. Relating it back to industry, a 5 sigma event would be almost as rare as a 6 sigma event – a defect that was so rare or unexpected that its occurrence can be tolerated. Read the rest of "Six Sigma, 5 Sigma and the Higgs Boson"

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The Customer Requirements Tree is a Lean tool taught as part of both our Lean Six Sigma Green Belt and our Lean Processes & Tools courses.

It is used to break down hard to measure broad customer requirements into requirements that are easier to measure and control.

The Customer Requirements Tree is also refereed to as the Critical to Quality tree and is a customer focused tool.

Using the tool allows you to define what is expected from the customer based on their broad spoken need. This usually results in upper and lower limits that the customer expects.

In our example below, the need of the customer is a coffee ‘that is good’, but there is no indication what the customer means by ‘good’. The drivers are the factors that generally decide how good a coffee is – taste, temperature and cost. We then assign upper and lower limits for each driver, which are the CTQ requirements - the boundaries the coffee should fall within to be defined as ‘good’.

Customer Requirements Tree

This is a VOC (voice of the customer) tool; defining the customer’s need using easier to measure requirements allows you to adjust the product or service to better suit the customer.

Find out where the Customer Requirements Tree fits into Six Sigma with our DMAIC tools map.

Exercise: Create a Customer Requirements Tree for a product or service that your business provides. Break down the customer need into measurable requirements and see if there is anything you shouldn’t be measuring which you aren’t at the moment.

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SIPOC Diagram for Six Sigma

We ask our delegates to bring a SIPOC diagram along to the Six Sigma Black Belt conversion course, as the course needs a defined Six Sigma project to work on. SIPOC is used towards the beginning of Six Sigma projects to provide a high-level perspective on an existing process.


SIPOC stands for Supplier, Input, Process, Output, Customer.

Effective implementation of the Six Sigma methodology requires the current process to be well scoped, and SIPOC is an effective starting point. It allows those working on the project to identify all elements that might be relevant, before the Six Sigma methodology is applied.

The SIPOC Diagram

The SIPOC is usually presented in the form of a straightforward diagram, which will be referred to during the Define and Measurement stages of DMAIC. Read the rest of "SIPOC Diagram for Six Sigma"

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Six Sigma and Business Process Management (BPM) are both business improvement processes that aim to make companies more efficient and to reduce costs by reducing process variation.

Six Sigma

Six Sigma is a methodology that was originally aimed at private organisations but, with its high success rate and flexibility, is now employed by governments and small organisations. The aim of Six Sigma is to find variations and errors in processes – and to fix them to avoid any form of waste.

There are weaknesses in this methodology though. One of the main weaknesses of Six Sigma is that it doesn’t manage processes from different departments and it only improves certain areas. Another weakness in the Six Sigma methodology is that doesn’t always retain the benefits that it achieves.

Find out more about Business Process Management by reading our discussion ‘BPM – Makeover or Life Change?

Business Process Management

Business Process Management (BPM) is a higher-level process which concentrates on improving the whole process; it doesn’t focus on individual complex issues. It’s ultimate aim is to automate processes for improved performance across the board.

Using Six Sigma within Business Process Management

Six Sigma within Business Process Management


Both processes use detailed mapping and analysis that are focused on process performance and metrics; in order to minimise variability.


Six Sigma methodology is very structured, and focuses intently on process mapping and the solving of specific problems. Solutions are based on hard facts as opposed to estimations or experienced suggestions. This methodology is therefore incredibly beneficial to those depending too heavily on just Business Process Management. Together, Six Sigma and BPM allow a more balanced approach to process management.

Coupling Six Sigma With Business Process Management

Combining these two methodologies can help to rectify the shortcomings of each, e.g. using BPM gives the perspective lacking from individual Six Sigma projects. Read the rest of "Combining Six Sigma with Business Process Management"

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Six Sigma is a very specific quality improvement process, with highly governed standards. The roles of the individuals within the process infrastructure is not always so defined – and it’s hard for companies to clearly determine what exactly to expect from the Six Sigma Green Belts, Black Belts, etc.

Six Sigma Black Belts work full-time on Six Sigma within an organisation, running the process and any projects that need full-time focus. The Green Belt often has other responsibilities outside of the Six Sigma framework, but runs individual Six Sigma projects – reporting to the Black Belt.

Green Belt role in Six Sigma FrameworkThe Role of the Six Sigma Green Belt

A Green Belt has trained knowledge of Six Sigma methodology, but their role is to run individual projects on behalf of the Black Belt. They are the ones to implement the process, collect data and problem-solve. The Green Belt may lead smaller groups within the project team and provide some lower level management.

Lean Six Sigma Green Belt training is the first step to learning Six Sigma theory and techniques. We offer a full Black Belt Training Package that covers both the Green Belt training and the Black Belt conversion course.

Specific criteria and responsibilities demanded by companies of their Six Sigma-trained employees can vary, as we mentioned last week in our post about what a Six Sigma Black Belt needs to know. The overall knowledge, skills and attributes demanded of a Six-Sigma Green Belt will always involve the following: Read the rest of "What Does A Six Sigma Green Belt Need To Know?"

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The term Black Belt is used a lot in Six Sigma discussion, but not everyone agrees on what precisely defines a Six Sigma Black Belt and what they need to do to deserve the accolade. There’s no doubt that becoming a Black Belt (and a Green Belt) demands formal training.

Our Six Sigma Training is taught by Master Black Belts, and our small training groups mean an excellent learning environment. We offer Green Belt Six Sigma training, as well as Black Belt Six Sigma training package.

The role of the Six Sigma Black Belt is critical to the success of a quality improvement project. As Change Agents – and the most trained individuals for the process – it’s up to them to understand the necessary methodologies and DMAIC theory of Six Sigma.

Organisations hiring Six Sigma-trained staff need to know what to expect – and insist – from their Black Belts, Green Belts, etc.

Six Sigma Black Belts need to have expertise in the following four areas:

Company Knowledge

Six Sigma Black BeltHands on experience of the process in question is essential for successful implementation of a Six Sigma strategy.

There needs to be a real case for improved productivity and the resulting effect on reputation and/or finances. Without this company knowledge, problems cannot be identified as accurately or as quickly.

Improving business productivity ties with an improved consumer experience as the main focus of any Six Sigma-run project.

Consumer Knowledge

The importance of knowledge of what the end user requires from the output can not be overlooked. This is essential to monitoring success, and ensuring the right aims are set in the first place. A focus on the consumer is integral to the Six Sigma process of eliminating process variation. Read the rest of "What Does a Six Sigma Black Belt Need to Know?"

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Why Combine Lean & Six Sigma?

Our Lean Six Sigma Training courses teach the Lean Six Sigma methodology, a combination of Lean and Six Sigma principles.

We offer our Lean Six Sigma courses through a similar system to Six Sigma – different belt levels to determine the level of learning. These include Lean Six Sigma Yellow Belt Training for team members and Lean Six Sigma Green Belt Training for team leaders and project managers. We also offer the more advanced Lean Six Sigma Black Belt Training (which includes Green Belt) for those who wish to manage Six Sigma projects as a full time role, this course only covers Six Sigma and not lean.

What is Lean?

Lean is an approach typified by the Toyota Production System. Originally designed to eliminate waste in a manufacturing environment, Lean is also successful in a number of other sectors including finance, business and government. Waste is defined as activity that does not add value for the customer and so is a customer focused approach. Any process that the customer would not be willing to pay for would be deemed as waste.

What is Six Sigma?

Six Sigma comes from another car manufacturing business, Motorola. It was then popularised at General Electric. Six Sigma aims to improve quality by creating products and processes that are nearly defect free. Six Sigma processes allow for 3.4 defects per million (or 0.00034%) products. Motorola set this as a goal for their manufacturing line and it has since been adapted for other uses.

Again, this is a customer focused strategy as it eliminates products that do not meet customer specifications.

Why Combine Lean and Six Sigma?

As you can see from the graphic below, the two processes work together to ensure:

  • Lower costs
  • Shorter lead times
  • Higher quality



This two pronged approach leads to proven benefits within your company as you remove waste and cut the number of defects. Read the rest of "Why Combine Lean & Six Sigma?"

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When using Lean Six Sigma, it is essential that you start off on the right foot. A project which starts badly will need a lot of work to go right! Here are our top nine tips to starting a Lean Six Sigma project as efficiently as possible, and keeping it that way.

Tip One: Don’t Take on Massive Projects

Massive projects, taking place over long stretches of time, can encourage procrastination – as far-off goals are less motivating – and can be discouraging since your team will feel that they are achieving less. Instead, try to work on smaller and more focused projects, which will be far easier for your team to concentrate on.

Tip Two: Keep Control at the Beginning

At the beginning of a project, thinking has to be fairly rigid to get things up and running. There will be space for individual creativity later on; for now, focus on a framework. Remember to think about customer needs at this stage. Use the DMAIC tools map right from the start to establish a plan.


Tip Three: Middle Management is Essential

In order to properly motivate and keep a close eye on your team, Middle Management is essential. Make sure that your project leaders are keeping them in the loop, and they will ensure a smooth and connected working environment.

Tip Four: Make Sure Your Leaders are Active Teachers

All leaders, and especially senior leaders, have to remain fully engaged. It is their responsibility to ensure that the team successfully improves, through leading process improvement activities. The project and the team will not be successful if leaders delegate their responsibilities to others – this will lead to a lack of strong leadership and possibly failed improvement activities.

Tip Five: Train During the Project

Training while involved on projects is far more productive and cost-effective than over-training your team in advance. Six Sigma training during projects also has the advantage in that you will be able to see what is needed, rather than relying on guesswork. The most important thing is to be able to recognise problems which customers will face and removing them early. Technical skills, though important, should come second. Read the rest of "Top Nine Tips for Successful Lean Six Sigma Projects"

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Five Benefits of Team Building

It is important for project teams to communicate and work together effectively. Six Sigma training is split into different levels. Our Lean Six Sigma Yellow Belt course is for members of Six Sigma teams. To lead a Six Sigma project you should first attend a Six Sigma Green Belt course and then consider Black Belt training to direct multiple Six Sigma projects. 

This guest post takes a look at why team building is important and should be considered when setting up a new Six Sigma team…

Team Building Encourages Employees to Strive Towards a Common Goal

The emphasis on team building is an important component of establishing good internal communications within companies and organisations. Many times, corporate events sponsor team building workshops or classes so participants can enhance their management skills or improve their productivity.

Team building emphasises making use of individual skillsets as well as group communications in order to achieve company objectives. As a result, the practice makes it possible for members of organisations to reach common goals by learning how to efficiently interact with other people in their department and throughout their company as a whole.

Team Building Programs are Generally Hosted Outside the Office Environment

The main reason for implementing team building programs at corporate events, seminars, and webinars is to increase production in a company and motivate employees. By employing team building exercises and activities out of the office environment, participants stay more focused and enjoy the program more. In turn, they can take the information they learn with them to their jobs without being sidetracked by the internal barriers that can exist within an office environment.


The Benefits of Team Building Activities

Today, many corporations have found that sponsoring team building seminars and corporate events increases employee awareness and underscores creativity within the workplace. The benefits can be significant, especially in the following five ways: Read the rest of "Five Benefits of Team Building"

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