Book: Quality Beyond Six Sigma
Whilst passing through Miami airport en route to Mexico City, Ron cameacross an article on Six Sigma in USA Today, 21 July 1998. It read: ‘Today,depending on whom you listen to, Six Sigma is either a revolution slashingtrillions of dollars from corporate inefficiency or it’s the most maddeningmanagement fad yet devised to keep front-line workers too busy collectingdata to do their jobs’. At that time Ron was coordinating a Global MRPIIprogramme between all manufacturing sites of GlaxoWellcome, includingthe Xochimilco site in Mexico. The Global Manufacturing and Supply Divisionof GlaxoWellcome was considering a ‘LeanSigma’ initiative, which was meantto be a hybrid of Six Sigma and Lean Manufacturing. It struck Ron that themessage in USA Today reflected not just the doubts (or expectations) in theminds of colleagues, but perhaps also those of quality practitioners worldwide.These doubts or expectations addressed many questions. Isn’t Six Sigmasimply another fad, or just a repackaged form of TQM? It appears to besuccessful in large organizations like Motorola and General Electric, but cana small firm support such a programme? How can we apply Six Sigmamethodology, originating from manufacturing operations, to the far largermarket of the service sector? Like any good product, Six Sigma will have afinite lifecycle – so what is next? Surely one big question is, how can wesustain the benefits in the longer term? It is good to be ‘lean’ but isn’t it betterto be ‘fit’, to stay agile? The idea of writing Quality Beyond Six Sigma toaddress these issues was mentally conceived at Miami airport, and the conceptof FIT SIGMA™* was born.