Critical Stage

Abstract:In the past 10 years, Six Sigma has been arguably the quality movement’s most widely deployed and written-about method, but questions regarding its effectiveness remain. Quality professionals have benefited from the method’s success, but run the risk of losing that advantage to practitioners of other disciplines that already have the ear of business executives. The author takes a look at what Six Sigma has accomplished and whether it is on the way …

Access this article
Other ways to access this article

Social Bookmarking

Digg, delicious, NewsVine, Furl, Google, StumbleUpon, BlogMarks, Facebook



In this article, there is the comparison between Six Sigma with other S&P companies. This is a good practice. By the way, the article claimed we also lack comparison data between TQM data and other companies. The truth is in Juran's Quality Manual section 14. This result is TQM's 362% growth vensus S&P's 148% growth.
--Forrest Zhang, 01-17-2010


It's disappointing to me that an article by someone as prominent in the quality profession as Jack West would appear in Quality Progress accompanied by a graphic as weak as Figure 5. A much more accepted method to compare these time series would be to start them at a common origin and chart the percentage change. See the interactive price charts at Yahoo! Finance for examples.

Is this a quibble? Not considering the article's topic and in particular its suggestion number 3. Looking at the stock prices for these three organizations against the S&P ought to make anyone skeptical of Six Sigma. The fact that some of the basic methods of Six Sigma confuse the Voice of the Customer with the Voice of the Process ought to give great pause. But this latter confusion seems to me a root cause of why the quality profession struggles to be taken seriously. We really need to figure out how to do much, much better. Read Don Wheeler's books, and begin to understand.
--David Himrich, 09-16-2009


Why the doubts about Six Sigma methodology? Jack, you bring up good and obvious points. We continue to have evidence here and abroad (in Japan) of how, when implemented as a part of the overall business model, it works. However, we fight against an ideal and human nature. By our nature, humans will continue to take the path of least resistance. This, too, has an abundance of anecdotal and scientific evidence. I would like to see the correlation between lower taxation and free market acceleration and the desire to implement some sort of Quality Control System as part of an overall business model, not just on the departmental levels. This is your assignment if you choose to take it.

--James Vogtsberger, 09-08-2009


I recommend this article to all those folks faced with a decision to cut the LSS function. There must have been a reason why you implemented in the first place, chose and hired skilled people who were once your elite supervisors/staff. Watering down the purpose of the LSS group and negating the successes and benefits proven by the department thus far is not being smart. This is especially true for businesses that have only been using the methodology for 3 years. Give the process a chance and continue to be very supportive. You will not be dissatisfied.
--Joseph Antoli, 09-08-2009


May I add a seventh action?

7. Also make the lean six sigma processes an integral part of the documented system used to run and improve the business...
--John R. Broomfield, 09-08-2009


Featured advertisers