Demystifying Six Sigma

It’s a problem-solving technique with proven results, yet Six Sigma is sometimes equated with using a sledgehammer to crack a nut. However, if you get to grips with working inside its structure and understand the tools it employs, Six Sigma can transform the performance of your business.

So, how does it work?

There are three main components of Six Sigma: the structure, often referred to as the DMAIC; the facilitation tools that help teams to work together; and the statistical analytical tools to work the data. This may appear to be a complicated process because it relies on evidence and data, but it’s simply a way of changing your thinking.

Understanding DMAIC

The acronym stands for Define, Measure, Analyse, Improve, Control and these steps form the structure that is perfect for problem-solving. Moving through these steps should yield the right results and ensure a long-term solution.

Define the problem – not only do you need to define the exact issue but you need to ensure that everyone involved is clear that this is the problem that needs to be addressed.

Measure where we are – you’ve identified the problem and now you need to look at the data and the facts. Perhaps you’ll be evaluating performance or observing which part of your operation isn’t working correctly.

Analyse your evidence – with the evidence in front of you, it’s time to tease out the underlying cause of the issue. By working out the underlying causes or levers that, if changed, would solve this problem and improve performance, you can begin to rectify it.

Improve the operation – now you’ve identified the problem and potential solutions, you can implement the necessary changes. It could be a solution to the root cause, new procedures or equipment or a combination of both to improve business performance.

Control the situation – having done all the hard work, you need to be vigilant to ensure there is no slipping back into the old routine. By embedding the change and making it integral to your operation, you can ensure things don’t just slip back to the way they were before.


For any further information on Six Sigma, please contact either Steve or Sarah on Alternatively, you can read our Lean Six Sigma blog post.