Six Sigma and the Future of the Quality Profession


Hoerl, Roger W.   (1998, ASQ)   General Electric, Schenectady, NY

Quality Progress    Vol. 31    No. 6
QICID: 13340    June 1998    pp. 35-42
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Article Abstract

A lean quality organization that performs supporting roles is a trend in the quality profession. It already has appeared in businesses like General Electric and the now defunct Scott Paper Company. The supporting roles are management of the quality system and provision of unique quality skills. In this environment, the quality organization does not own nor manage quality. At Scott Paper, the change in quality philosophy allowed joint development of quality procedures with areas like production, marketing, and research and development. When Scott opened a new facility, the new philosophy led to debates about coordination of quality duties and the appropriateness of self audits. Eventually a full-time quality manager took on the role of quality system manager, and testing for managerial audits was handled by technicians who did not make the given products. At General Electric, the lean and supportive quality organization exists in a six sigma atmosphere. The quality organization assists with deployment of six sigma, but it neither owns nor implements it. The six sigma initiative is a business project that focuses on financial measurements. It encourages the integration of quality programs into nonmanufacturing operations and the requirement that quality programs be value-added endeavors. This article includes sidebars on the fundamentals and results of six sigma strategies.


Six Sigma,Quality profession,Quality philosophy,Case study,Quality system

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