The 7 Core Six Sigma Principles to Build Your Business Around

six sigma principles headerFinding ways to improve processes within your organization can be tough.

There always seems to be so many things to measure and so many variables to consider.

Where do you start? How do you determine what’s good? Who takes responsibility for improvement?

Fortunately, you don’t have to go in blind.

There are loads of approaches you can take to process improvement, but one of the key techniques used by some of the world’s top companies is Six Sigma.

The Six Sigma school of thought is all about finding the right focus and tightening up processes around that goal. The end result should be the reduction of defects from a process. This saves resources, time, effort, and most of all money!

In this Process Street article, we’re going to give you an intro into Six Sigma while linking off to resources for you to explore deeper.

We’ll investigate the key Six Sigma principles which can shape and direct process improvement in your business.

The core Six Sigma principles

The 7 key Six Sigma principles we’ll cover are:

  • Always focus on the customer
  • Understand how work really happens
  • Make your processes flow smoothly
  • Reduce waste and concentrate on value
  • Stop defects through removing variation
  • Get buy-in from the team through collaboration
  • Make your efforts systematic and scientific

You could categorize these as lean Six Sigma if you want to as well.

Given the evolving nature of the different schools of business process improvement, there will always likely be some disagreement over what the specific principles are.

For this reason, I feel it’s important to include the various competing principles even if some other lists might look at only 5 or 6 principles.

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Taylorism and The History of Processes: 6 Key Thinkers You Should Know

taylorismIf you want to employ approaches like business process management in your business it’s best to have a solid understanding of how these theories work.

One crucial aspect of using these theories correctly is understanding their development.

It’s common for managers to want to employ cutting edge ideas in their business, but without a deep understanding these methods can be misapplied.

These errors will reduce the effectiveness of your process management and hold your business back.

It’s not just business where process improvement efforts are regularly being undermined! In a recent meta-study from the British Medical Journal, researchers found only 2 out of 73 studies had applied the PDSA process improvement methodology in a way which fully met criteria. Commenting:

To progress the development of the science of improvement, a greater understanding of the use of improvement methods, including PDSA, is essential to draw reliable conclusions about their effectiveness.

In this Process Street article, we’re going to look at some of the fundamentals and pick out key historical thinkers whose work we can trace from in order to better inform how process improvement methods should be done. Including:

  • Who is Frederick Winslow Taylor?
  • What is Taylorism?
  • What W. Edwards Deming can teach us about continuous improvement
  • Why Taiichi Ohno helps you cut waste in your business
  • What Ludwig von Bertalanffy tells us about systems
  • How Bill Smith changed the way we view defects
  • What Ray Dalio can show us about company culture

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