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    June 13, 2023

    What's 6 Sigma? A Short Guide

    When it comes to management styles and organizational approaches, 6 Sigma is a well-known and popular choice.

    It’s a lean and versatile set of tools, perfect for providing high levels of efficiency and safety in the workplace. What's 6 Sigma exactly? What does it stand for and how does it work? Here’s what you need to know.

    An Overview of 6 Sigma

    6 Sigma gets its name from the 6 different components it’s made of. Each of these aspects in turn contributes to the overall goal of reducing waste and promoting efficiency and safety. These components include the following:

    • Sort: A workspace is sorted according to what tools and equipment workers need for their job duties, with anything unnecessary to those tasks removed. This promotes better, more streamlined workflows.
    • Set in Place: Once only the necessary tools and equipment remain in a workspace, it’s now time to organize where these items live within that space. Items need to be stored and stationed in places that are easy to access and that aren’t going to cause disruption to workflow processes.
    • Shine: Next, it’s time to thoroughly clean the worksite to remove any dirt, dust, and debris. This is as much an efficiency issue as a safety one. Keeping a worksite clean and free of debris prevents injuries, which also removes productivity hazards.
    • Standardize: To support consistent performance after establishing the first three components, it’s now necessary to establish standardized methods for documenting these procedures. This makes it possible for anyone, regardless of what department they work in, to follow these procedures consistently.
    • Sustain: Standardizing processes is an important step, but these processes need to be undertaken in a sustainable manner. This component deals with putting systems in place that oversee the previous steps so that they’re working optimally.
    • Safety: The final step of 6 Sigma is a crucial focus on safety. Productivity and efficiency are supported by safety and vice versa, so tools need to be provided to employees to create work environments that are hazard-free. This step is therefore crucial to protect not just the health and safety of employees but also the overall productivity of the company.

    Other Information about 6 Sigma

    While 6 Sigma originated in manufacturing industries, the organizational approach has continued to develop well beyond its origins. Today, any number of workplaces and industry sectors have adopted 6 Sigma thanks to its benefits. In fact, you might be even more familiar with its predecessor, often referred to as 5S or sometimes Lean Manufacturing, as it’s nearly identical. The only difference, as you might suspect, is that 6 Sigma has an additional component (in this case, the safety step).

    When 5S adopted safety as an integral part of the process, transforming the standard into 6 Sigma, its success was nearly guaranteed. This is why it has become such a popular choice for countless companies, as the renewed commitment to workplace, along with its focus on organization and efficiency, has shown just how successful an approach it is.