10.3.1 What is the Six Sigma approach?

The Six Sigma approach was introduced and developed by Motorola in the early 90s and later on adopted by General Electric and Allied Signal. Jack Welsh CEO of GE claims that Six Sigma was the most challenging and potentially rewarding strategy that General Electric has ever adopted. 1

Six Sigma is an inclusive management framework which has evolved from a focus on process improvements through the use of statistical tools into a complete and inclusive framework for effective business management. In practice Six Sigma has two definitions: (1) a set of tools for the improvement of processes and products and, (2) an approach for the improvement of processes and business performance. In other words, it is a means of developing leadership and bringing about radical changes in management skills.2

According to Daniel L. Quinn "Six Sigma has become a synonym for improving quality, reducing cost, improving customer loyalty, and achieving bottom-line results."

1 Quality & Productivity Journal, September 2000, The Six Sigma Approach. Hemant Urdhwareshe, General Manager, Supplier Quality Assurance, Cummins India Ltd.
2 Rath & Strong's six sigma leadership handbook, AON Management consulting, p. 1-2.