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Six Sigma for Growth - Driving Profitable Top-Line Results





Book: 'Six Sigma for Growth - Driving Profitable Top-Line Results'

Author: Edward Abramowich

Publisher: John Wiley & Sons (Asia) Pte Ltd, 2005

ISBN: 0-470-82133-7

Leader Values

You may have heard of Six Sigma and wondered what it was, or even had some experience of it in the past and pigeon-holed it as just another QA system. But the Six Sigma system has evolved significantly over the past two decades, and has now become more of a business leadership tool than a QA system.

The idea of Six Sigma began in the 1980s, in response to Japan’s huge global success in producing surprisingly high quality products. The name “Six Sigma” comes from the quality target of reducing product defects to less than 3 defects per million, which means ensuring that the product specifications are six standard deviations (sigma in statistical jargon) from the average. At that time it was believed that better quality products would automatically lead to business growth. But life isn’t quite that simple. Companies with quality products can still decide to work on the wrong projects, or can have difficulties integrating systems with their customers.

Companies that introduced the Six Sigma program had success in improving their product quality; but they didn’t always get the expected business growth. Fortunately, those companies didn’t just abandon Six Sigma. Instead they broadened its scope beyond the initial focus on manufacturing operations. Now Six Sigma covers all aspects of the business, including how the company chooses which projects to work on and how it interfaces with its key customers.

This broader scope for Six Sigma means that it has a variety of implications for business leaders. At one level, the program requires support from the organisation’s leaders. In the words of author and Six Sigma specialist Edward Abramowich, “committed leadership is critical to sustaining Six Sigma”. That’s in line with Deming’s observations that management must create and manage business systems, and lead change.

But the most recent broadening of Six Sigma has been its use to build profitable business growth. As Abramowich says, “Six Sigma is a means to achieve the organisation’s goals”. That makes it very relevant to leaders. The historical focus on quality is still there – but now the process includes an extra step to identify which projects have the greatest potential for delivering profitable growth.

Abramowich has written the definitive “how-to guide” on using the program to achieve top line growth. He gives case histories from companies like General Electric, Honeywell and Coca Cola to illustrate how the approach can be applied to real business situations. Although Six Sigma for Growth is targeted primarily at readers who are already familiar with the basic Six Sigma approach, it is clear enough to be read by anyone wanting to know how companies and their leaders can achieve better business results.

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