Quality Magazine

Mailbag: Short Term; Not Sigma

January 1, 2004

Dear Editor,

I liked your article, "Six Sigma is Legit" (Quality, March 2003, p. 6), but how does one accomplish your mandates? Just your one statement, "When used correctly, Six Sigma is a useful and worthy tool" has got to be fodder for a dozen or more Ph.D. students. While the zealots are drooling over their charts and graphs, they seem to enter a transcendental state impenetrable by logic. Once in this state, the goal of "when used correctly" is harder to achieve than teaching my dog to speak Chinese.

I can't shake the belief that a Master Black Belt could listen to an impeccable presentation by his spouse on how their family could save $600,000 on their yearly Popsicle expenditures, replete with charts and graphs, and off they would go skipping hand in hand to their local Ferrari dealer.

I like short-term measurable goals that show me I'm headed in the right direction. As having to provide substantial quantities of resources to Six Sigma activities, I would like to deploy those resources in the most bottom-line enhancing manner. So how to proceed? I would really appreciate your insights on using Six Sigma and Design for Six Sigma correctly.

Mike Gunther

Johns Manville