The Revolution of Six-Sigma: An Analysis of its Theory and Application

by Dominique Drake, J. S. Sutterfield, and Christopher Ngassam
published in Academy of Information and Management Sciences Journal, Volume 11, Number 1, 2008
Ref AIMSJ11-03

The Revolution of Six-Sigma: An Analysis of its Theory and ApplicationSix-sigma has revolutionised many businesses, transforming loss into profit. This article explores the history and evolution of six-sigma and the benefits of applying its different techniques to ensure quality improvement, market longevity and global competitiveness.

The article includes a discussion about General Electric which, under the leadership of Jack Welch, applied six-sigma methodologies and as a result saved over $1 billion dollars in one year. The company’s operating margin rose to 16.7% while revenues and earnings increased by 11% and 13% respectively.

Six-sigma has since moved beyond the manufacturing environment and is now used across other industries including banking, healthcare, and automotive.

The authors note that many companies have tried to implement six-sigma without first understanding the theory and concept behind it, and this has damaged its reputation. But it is not the discipline that is flawed, say the authors, but the application of it. Understanding the subtle theory that lies behind six-sigma is crucial. In addition, the authors point out that successful six-sigma implementation also requires the close involvement of the project champion and top management, as well as effective training for all employees to minimise misunderstanding and maximise human and financial resources.

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About the authors

Dominique Drake is a Fraud Analyst at Ernst & Young.

Scott Sutterfield is Assistant Professor, Production and Operations Management, Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University

Christopher Ngassam is Associate Professor of Finance, Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University

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