Online Class: Introduction to Six Sigma

Six Sigma is a methodology of implementing a highly successful project, or producing a high quality product or service, using techniques and principles that ensure excellence.

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Course Description

Six Sigma is a methodology of implementing a highly successful project, or producing a high quality product or service, using techniques and principles that ensure excellence. The Six Sigma methodology incorporates many years of studying best practices in business and its goal is ultimately the creation of a nearly error-free business environment.

The name of the methodology takes its name from a letter in the Greek alphabet, sigma, which is used by mathematicians to measure variability. In business, the principle of variability is used to measure the number of errors in a process. The goal of a Six Sigma implementation is to produce a product or service with fewer than 3.4 problems per million transactions. A transaction may be defined as a product produced or a service performed.

Six Sigma has been so successful because it dispenses with some of the more cumbersome aspects of older business implementation methodologies and, as such, it has risen to become one of the most respected and followed project management systems. Many of the world's most successful companies utilize the principles of Six Sigma because customers in today's business environment expect excellence and companies must be willing to deliver it if they want to survive in today's highly competitive marketplace.

This course will give a complete overview of the Six Sigma process and prepare you for the path of a "Black Belt," or a Six Sigma team member.

Course Motivation

 Six Sigma dispenses with some of the more cumbersome aspects of older business implementation methodologies and, as such, it has risen to become one of the most respected and followed project management systems. Many of the world's most successful companies utilize the principles of Six Sigma because customers in today's business environment have much less tolerance for errors than they did a generation ago. Six Sigma is helping companies deliver excellence to a very discerning consumer base that has very high expectations.

The employees within a company who train on Six Sigma are called "Six Sigma Black Belts."  Usually, these Black Belts use advanced computer and business technologies, but the methodology of Six Sigma can easily be broken down to a simple model that comprises five elements: Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, and Control. Together, they are referred to as the DMAIC model. 

Using the DMAIC model, a company's Black Belts must define (D) the goals of a project, measure (M) the existing system in place, analyze (A) the implementation of the project to ensure that there is little difference between actual results and the goals of the project, improve (I) the system wherever possible, and, finally, they must control (C) the new system in place to ensure continued success.

History of Six Sigma

The concepts of Six Sigma were created by the company Motorola in the 1980s under the leadership of Bob Galvin, the company's Chief Executive Officer (CEO). In the early 1970s, a Japanese company took control of a Motorola factory that manufactured televisions. The quality of the televisions was very low and Motorola hired a firm to investigate the problems and to implement a solution. 

Within a very short period of time after the Japanese firm took control, the quality of the televisions was dramatically improved. Defects were decreased by 95%, but the company used the same workers and the same technology. In addition to drastically lowering defects, the company was also able to lower manufacturing costs. One thing was very clear: Motorola's management of the factory was the problem and the Japanese firm had managed the process with a remarkable degree of success. The concepts they used to achieve this success were incorporated and expanded by Motorola and would eventually become known as Six Sigma. In 1988, Motorola won the prestigious Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award, one of the most coveted awards in business. Other businesses started to take notice of Motorola's success and strategy, and the concept of Six Sigma grew rapidly. 

One of the most fundamental concepts to understand about Six Sigma is that its methodology is not solely concerned with increasing quality in the traditional sense.  While increased quality is a result of its implementation, Six Sigma is primarily concerned with increasing efficiency within a company and delivering higher customer value. 

But, quality does play an important role in measuring the success of a Six Sigma project. Quality is now measured by the added value that is delivered to the customer, and it may be defined in two ways:  potential quality and actual quality. Potential quality is a maximum amount of value that can be added to a product, while actual quality is the current value being added. The difference between potential quality and actual quality is wasted effort. Six Sigma aims to reduce waste and improve efficiency.   

Six Sigma is not solely about cutting costs to improve the bottom line. It is about cutting unnecessary expenses (waste) which do not add to the actual quality, or value, of its products. When companies spend money to fix problems, this expense is often called the cost of poor quality. Typically, companies that utilize Six Sigma spend about 5 percent of the their revenue fixing problems, while the typical cost in most companies that do not use Six Sigma can be as high as 25 percent of revenue. 

The Scientific Method

Six Sigma applies the Scientific Method to business.  The Scientific Method is a very precise approach used by scientists to invent, discover, and test their theories.  Any discovery or theory that does not closely follow the Scientific Method is not regarded as a valid experiment.   

The principles of Six Sigma follow these important elements of the Scientific Method: 

  1. Observation: Closely examine the operations of your business. 
  2. Draft an explanation, or theory, that summarizes your observation.
  3. Develop predictions of future events based on your observations and theory.
  4. Make experiments to test your predictions. Adjust your theory, if necessary, based on your experiments.
  5. Repeat the process of developing predictions and conducting experiments until there are no differences between your theory and the results of your experiments.  

At the end of this process, a Black Belt in a Six Sigma company will be detailed to certify a theory which explains an important element of the company's business. It eliminates a culture of guessing and employee bickering and moves to a more factual environment.   

Data is a crucial element of a successful Six Sigma implementation and the results of your work implementing the Scientific Method will produce an enormous amount of data that must be efficiently and fully analyzed. Data can sometimes expose the difference between what companies think they know and what their customers are actually experiencing.  

Six Sigma versus Older Project Management Methodologies

There have been many process and quality improvement initiatives used before Six Sigma, but they differ in several important ways. 

Traditional process improvement initiatives focused almost exclusively on the manufacturing process while Six Sigma is concerned with the analysis of data across a broad spectrum of a business. It analyzes all aspects of the business environment, with a special emphasis on efficiency. Thus, Six Sigma considers manufacturing just one part of the business process since customers are concerned about many more things than just the manufacturing quality of a product. 

In addition to wanting a high quality manufactured product, customers are concerned with price, service, keeping updated with future releases of the product, and technical support, among many other concerns.   

The beneficial effects of this approach go far beyond just customers. Investors and owners benefit greatly from Six Sigma as it improves the bottom line performance of the company. All stakeholders, which are defined as people who have an interest in the success of the company, benefit from the Six Sigma approach to improving efficiency and adding value to the customer experience. 

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  • Self-Paced
  • Printable Lessons
  • Full HD Video  
  • 6 Months to Complete
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  • Android & iOS Friendly
  • Accredited CEUs
Universal Class is an IACET Accredited Provider

Course Lessons

Average Lesson Rating:
4.4 / 5 Stars (Average Rating)
"Extraordinarily Helpful"
(1,423 votes)

Lesson 1. History of Six Sigma

Six Sigma is a methodology of implementing a highly successful project, or producing a high quality product or service, using techniques and principles that ensure excellence. Additional lesson topics: What is Six Sigma?; Six Sigma Overview 16 Total Points
  • Lesson 1 Video
  • Lesson discussions: Six Sigma; Reasons for Taking this Course
  • Complete: Lesson 1 Assignment
  • Complete Assignment: An Introduction
  • Assessment: Lesson 1: History of Six Sigma

Lesson 2. Implementing Six Sigma

Successful companies have been implementing Six Sigma for over twenty years, companies are most successful if they focus on a few key concepts in implementation. Additional lesson topics: Keys to Effectiveness; How to Implement Six Sigma 15 Total Points
  • Lesson 2 Video
  • Lesson discussions: Using Six Sigma
  • Complete: Lesson 2 Assignment
  • Assessment: Lesson 2 : Implementing Six Sigma

Lesson 3. Becoming a Customer and a Market Driven Enterprise

As we covered in a previous chapter, a core concept in Six Sigma is the emphasis on increasing customer value. Additional lesson topics: 4 Ways to Increase Customer Value 15 Total Points
  • Lesson 3 Video
  • Complete: Lesson 3 Assignment
  • Assessment: Lesson 3: Becoming a Customer and Market-Driven Enterprise

Lesson 4. Customer Expectations and Needs

While customers drive the market by expressing their opinion about existing products and technologies, as we covered in the previous chapter, they rarely are aware of early developments in technology. Additional lesson topics: The Kano Model 15 Total Points
  • Lesson 4 Video
  • Complete: Lesson 4 Assignment
  • Assessment: Lesson 4: Customer Expectations and Needs

Lesson 5. Linking Six Sigma Projects to Strategies

In the last chapter, we discussed the importance of linking customers' expectations to a company's initiatives and strategies. Additional lesson topics: Scope Creep; Six Sigma Strategy 15 Total Points
  • Lesson 5 Video
  • Complete: Lesson 5 Assignment
  • Assessment: Lesson 5: Linking Six Sigma Projects to Strategies

Lesson 6. Attributes of Good Metrics

Decisions by senior management or a company's board of directors must use objective data in order to accurately report on the needs of a company's customers. Additional lesson topics: Metric Definitions; Measurement Phase 9 Total Points
  • Lesson 6 Video
  • Assessment: Lesson 6: Attributes of Good Metrics

Lesson 7. Using Resources Wisely

Projects are the backbone of any Six Sigma organization. Project based initiatives, as facilitated through Six Sigma, are what create changes that result in innovations and breakthroughs. Additional lesson topics: Six Sigma Roadblocks; Defeating Roadblocks 10 Total Points
  • Lesson 7 Video
  • Assessment: Lesson 7: Using Resources Wisely

Lesson 8. Project Management Using the DMAIC and DMADV Models

This chapter will provide an overview of some of the most important tools and project management concepts used by Six Sigma teams and Black Belts. Additional lesson topics: DMAIC; DMAIC vs DMADV 10 Total Points
  • Lesson 8 Video
  • Assessment: Lesson 8: Project Management Using the DMAIC and DMADV Models

Lesson 9. The Define Phase

The Define Phase is the first phase in all Six Sigma projects, whether the goals of the project are process improvement or better designed products. Additional lesson topics: Project Charter as a Vital Control Document; Work Breakdown Structure 10 Total Points
  • Lesson 9 Video
  • Assessment: Lesson 9: The Define Phase

Lesson 10. The Measure Phase

The Measure Phase is the second phase of the Six Sigma "Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, and Control," or DMAIC, model. Additional lesson topics: Measure 10 Total Points
  • Lesson 10 Video
  • Assessment: Lesson 10: The Measure Phase

Lesson 11. Measurement System Analysis

Data is the most important elements of a Six Sigma project and if measurements of the data are going to be used to enact substantial changes in a company, the data must be confirmed to be accurate. Additional lesson topics: Tools and Templates; Analyze Phase 10 Total Points
  • Lesson 11 Video
  • Assessment: Lesson 11: Measurement System Analysis

Lesson 12. Analyzing Data: Value Streams and Dealing with Variations

The third phase of the DMAIC model in a Six Sigma project is Analysis. Additional lesson topics: Value Stream Mapping on a Budget; Value Stream Map 8 Total Points
  • Lesson 12 Video
  • Assessment: Lesson 12: Analyzing Data: Value Streams and Dealing with Variations

Lesson 13. Analyzing Data: Designed Experiments

In the last chapter, the methods discussed for analyzing data were really only effective in comparing two things, whether it was two sets of samples or one sample and the improvement goal. Additional lesson topics: A Primer for Designing Experiments; Design of Experiments 9 Total Points
  • Lesson 13 Video
  • Lesson discussions: Statistics
  • Assessment: Lesson 13: Analyzing Data: Designed Experiments

Lesson 14. The Improve Phase

After the necessary data has been analyzed, and causes and effects determined, the next phase in the DMAIC model is Improve. Additional lesson topics: The Improve Phase 9 Total Points
  • Lesson 14 Video
  • Assessment: Lesson 14: The Improve Phase

Lesson 15. The Control Phase

The last phase in Six Sigma's DMAIC model is the Control Phase. Additional lesson topics: The Control Phase; Elements of Control 78 Total Points
  • Lesson 15 Video
  • Lesson discussions: End of Course Poll; Program Evaluation Follow-up Survey (End of Course); Course Comments
  • Assessment: Lesson 15: The Control Phase
  • Assessment: The Final Exam
Total Course Points

Learning Outcomes

By successfully completing this course, students will be able to:
  • Describe the history of six sigma.
  • Summarize implementing six sigma.
  • Describe becoming a customer and a market driven enterprise.
  • Define customer expectations and needs.
  • Determine how to link six sigma projects to strategies.
  • Recognize attributes of good metrics.
  • Describe using resources wisely.
  • Summarize Project Management Using the DMAIC and DMADV Models.
  • Identify the define phase.
  • Identify the measure phase.
  • Summarize Measurement System Analysis.
  • Describe analyzing data: value streams and dealing with variations.
  • Describe analyzing data: designed experiments.
  • Identify the improve phase.
  • Identify the control phase.
  • Demonstrate mastery of lesson content at levels of 70% or higher.

Additional Course Information

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Course Title: Introduction to Six Sigma
Course Number: 7550470
Lessons Rating: 4.4 / 5 Stars (1,423 votes)
Languages: English - United States, Canada and other English speaking countries
Last Updated: November 2021
Course Type: Self-Paced, Online Class
CEU Value: 0.9 IACET CEUs (Continuing Education Units)
CE Accreditation: Universal Class, Inc. has been accredited as an Authorized Provider by the International Association for Continuing Education and Training (IACET).
Grading Policy: Earn a final grade of 70% or higher to receive an online/downloadable CEU Certification documenting CEUs earned.
Assessment Method: Lesson assignments and review exams
Instructor: Linda Zavadil
Syllabus: View Syllabus
Course Fee: $95.00 U.S. dollars

Student Testimonials

  • "The course was extremely helpful to jump-start my understanding of Six Sigma methodologies; the writing assignments were a great tools to synthesize the readings content. The extra readings added needed peripheries and helped me appreciate the breadth of the six Sigma applications and the flexibility of the system." -- Houssam E.
  • "I learned a lot from this course and found it to be very helpful. I liked that the course materials could be printed and that the videos were captioned so the course was very accessible." -- Audrey C.
  • "Excellent course. Great instructor." -- Shelly B.

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