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Due to the large amount of books written about Six Sigma, I divided my
recommendations into four categories:
- What is Six Sigma, and why should my organization do it?
- How to manage Six Sigma.
- The define-measure-analyze-improve-control (DMAIC) cycle.
- Design for Six Sigma (DFSS).
After offering a few suggestions in each category, I will then discuss
a fifth category: books I wish existed because they would fill the gaps
in the Six Sigma literature.
What Is Six Sigma, and Why Should My Organization Do It?
I recommend these two books:
- The Six Sigma Way: How GE, Motorola and Other Top Compa-nies
Are Honing Their Perfor-mance, Peter S. Pande,
Robert P. Neuman and Roland R. Cavanagh, McGraw-Hill Trade, 2000. This
book steers fairly clear of tools and techniques and, instead, gives
a high level overview of Six Sigma followed by a discussion on how an
organization can begin to implement Six Sigma.
- Six Sigma: The Breakthrough Management Strategy Revolution-izing
the World’s Top Corporations, Mikel Harry and Richard Schroeder,
Doubleday, 2000. The vignettes on individual company experiences
have helped more than a few executives grasp the implications, costs
and benefits of moving forward with a Six Sigma initiative.
How To Manage Six Sigma
I recommend these two books:
- Leading Six Sigma, Ronald D. Snee and Roger W. Hoerl,
Prentice Hall, 2003. This book does a commendable job of covering
the information needed by an executive who has already decided his or
her organization needs to be involved in Six Sigma but needs more on
how to make that happen.
- Managing Six Sigma, Forrest W. Breyfogle III, James
M. Cupello and Becki Meadows, Wiley Interscience, 2001. This
book provides insight on Six Sigma metrics and explains how to integrate
Six Sigma into a business strategy.
Books on the DMAIC Cycle
I recommend these three books:
- Implementing Six Sigma: Smarter Solutions Using Statistical
Methods, second edition, Forrest W. Breyfogle III, John Wiley and
Sons, 2003. This near encyclopedic work surveys the wide range
of methods that are part of the DMAIC cycle, focusing on the technical
- Six Sigma Pocket Guide, Rath &
Strong, 2000. This handy pocket book covers the various methods
used in the DMAIC cycle.
- Sailing Through Six Sigma, Michel
Brassard and Diane Ritter, Brassard & Ritter, 2001. This
book can be purchased with a CD-ROM that includes an electronic version
of the book and extensive supplemental materials and examples.
Design for Six Sigma
One book comes clearly to mind in this category: Design for
Six Sigma in Technology and Product Development, C.M. Creveling,
J.L. Slutsky and Dave Antis Jr., Prentice Hall, 2002. This book
does an excellent job of not confusing DFSS with some particular variant
of design of experiments. Instead, the authors spend the majority of their
time discussing the nonstatistical issues related to DFSS.
Books I Wish Existed
Practitioners and educators would both benefit from a collection of detailed
case studies. The number of successful Black Belt projects using some
variant of the DMAIC cycle is large, and we still don’t have detailed
documentation of enough projects. More project results need to be published
so a broader group of people can meaningfully comment on the methodology,
aid in a discussion of how to improve the Six Sigma process and toolkit,
and permit effective teaching of the concepts of Six Sigma in a sophisticated
I find the material available to the public involves an unfortunate lockstep
adherence to the MAIC cycle, instead of the DMAIC cycle. Other methods
do exist. For example, I recommend reading about the thought mapping methods
discussed in “The Thought Map” by Cheryl Hild, Doug Sanders
and Bill Ross (Quality Engineering, 2000, pp. 21-27).
Among the unfortunate aspects of the current DMAIC cycle, however, is
the typical banishment of the methods of process study tied to the statistical
control chart used in the control step. The Six Sigma community would
benefit from a rich and full public discussion of how to improve the Six
Sigma process and toolbox.
It would also be nice to have more discussion of how Six Sigma fits into
the general history of the evolution of improvement methods. Harry and
Schroeder offer some insights, but the full story has yet to be told.
(Editor’s note: The August 2003 issue of SSFM has an article on
this subject. See “The Evolution of Six Sigma” by Jim Foloran,
Six Sigma Bestsellers*
- Rath & Strong’s Six Sigma Pocket Guide, Rath & Strong,
- What Is Six Sigma? Peter S. Pande and Lawrence Holpp, McGraw-Hill,
- Customer Centered Six Sigma: Linking Customers, Process Improvement
and Financial Results, Earl Naumann and Steven H. Hoisington, ASQ Quality
- Six Sigma Business Scorecard, Praveen Gupta and A. William Wiggenhorn,
McGraw-Hill Professional, 2003.
- Six Sigma for the Shop Floor, Roderick A. Munro, ASQ Quality Press,
- Six Sigma: The Breakthrough Management Strategy Revolutionizing the
World’s Top Corporations, Mikel J. Harry and Richard Schroeder,
- Lean Six Sigma: Combining Six Sigma Quality With Lean Speed, Michael
L. George, McGraw-Hill, 2002.
- Six Sigma Project Management, Jeffrey N. Lowenthal, ASQ Quality Press,
- Six Sigma for Managers, Greg Brue, McGraw-Hill, 2002.
- The New Six Sigma: A Leader’s Guide To Achieving Rapid Business
Improvement and Sustainable Results,
Matt Barney and Tom McCarty, Prentice Hall, 2002.
*Compiled using data from Amazon.com, ASQ Quality Press and BN.com.
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