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November 8, 2004

Hi [[firstname]], welcome back. 

If your business teams are in the process of 
implementing or just debating the benefits of a Six 
Sigma Program, this is a must-read bulletin. 

Six Sigma is a continuous improvement methodology 
for manufacturing winners. The benefits to you and 
your team can be enormous. For example, a Six Sigma 
Program will help you and your team:

* Create and implement a winning manufacturing 
* Improve customer on time deliveries 
* Develop motivational and balanced performance 
* Gain "quick hitting" kaizen results - anywhere at 
* Speed improvements in quality, speed and cost 
* Implement an effective supply chain
* Move from "firefighting" to proactive problem 
* Eliminate day-to-day chaos and "end-of-the-month" 
* Reach your full growth and earnings potential 

Have a nice day, keep the faith, and stay connected.

Bill Gaw
Business Basics, LLC

P.S. Be sure to check out our MB&BP Bulletin 
subscriber’s Special Offer on my e-Tutorial, 
“Six Sigma Simplified” at:



Now serving over 6528 subscribers

Competitive Knowledge for Manufacturing People 


Let me start by saying that Six Sigma is not an overly 
sophisticated and unrealistic method of measuring data 
variation. It is also not a continuous improvement 
methodology for only banks, insurance companies and 
widget manufacturers. 

So if that’s what it’s not, then what is it?

First, it is a statistical measure of the performance 
of a process or a product.

Second, it is a goal that reaches near perfection for 
performance improvement.

Third, and most important, it is a continuous 
improvement methodology designed to achieve “top-to-
bottom” commitment to world-class performance.


Sigma stands for standard deviation. It is a 
statistical way to describe how much variation exists 
in a set of data, a group of items, or a process. If 
you deliver only about 68% of your shipments to your
customers on time, your process is at only a “2 sigma” 
level. If you deliver 93 percent of your shipments on 
time, which sounds good, you are operating at only a 
“3 sigma” level of performance. If you get 99.4 percent 
of them to your customer on time, you’re operating at 
“4 sigma.”

To be a Six Sigma on time supplier, you would have to 
have a delivery record of 99.9997 percent on time. 
That’s practically perfect! In fact, for every million 
of shipments you make, you’d end up with only three or 
four late deliveries.

That’s enough to turn almost every manufacturing team 
off. If we’re struggling to make our goal of 97% on 
time deliveries, and that’s only 3.4 sigma, there is 
no way in hell that we’re going to get anywhere near 
6-sigma … ever! 

During my early years in manufacturing, I thought that 
Six Sigma was a program for only banks, drug companies 
and doughnut factories … not for manufacturers 
producing a product; let alone make-to-order products. 
Today, things have changed and Six Sigma has become 
a continuous improvement methodology employed by
many small to medium size manufacturing companies. 


The goal of Six Sigma is to help people and processes 
aim high in aspiring to deliver defect-free products 
and services. The notion of zero defects is not at work 
here; Six Sigma recognizes that there’s always some 
potential for defects, even in the best-run processes 
or best-built products. 

The goal of Six Sigma is especially ambitious when you 
consider that prior to the start of a Six Sigma effort, 
many processes in many businesses operate at 1. 2, 3 
sigma levels. This means that from 66,000 to as many 
as 700,000 mistakes per million opportunities are being 
produced! Indeed, it’s often a shock for people to see 
how poorly their processes and products perform.

When taking up the Six Sigma banner, a business is 
saying, in effect: “We’d like to get as many of our 
customer-related activities and products performing 
as close to Six Sigma as we can.” Because 3.4 defects 
per million is such a challenging goal, the more 
immediate objective may be to get from, say, 2 to 3 
sigma. But that’s not shabby either: It would mean 
reducing defects from more than 300,000 per million to 
fewer that 70,000.

Keeping customers happy is good and profitable for 
the business. A 5 percent increase in customer 
retention has been shown to increase profits more that 
25 percent. It is estimated that companies lose 15 
percent to 20 percent of revenues each year to 
ineffective, inefficient processes---although some 
might suggest that it’s even higher. Six Sigma provides 
a goal that applies to both product and service 
activities and that sets attainable, short term goals 
while striving for long-range business objectives.


A significant difference between Six Sigma and other
continuous improvement programs is the degree to 
which management plays a key role in regularly 
monitoring program results and accomplishments.

As a management system, though, Six Sigma is not owned 
by senior leaders (although their role is critical) 
or driven by middle management (Although their 
participation is key). The ideas, solutions, process 
discoveries, and improvements that arise from Six Sigma 
take place at the front lines of the organization. Six 
Sigma companies are striving to put more responsibility 
into the hands of the people who work directly with 

In short, Six Sigma is a system that combines both 
strong leadership and grassroots energy and involvement. 
In addition, the benefits of Six Sigma are not just 
financial. People at all levels of a Six Sigma company 
find that better understanding of customers, a clearer 
process, meaningful measures, and powerful improvement 
tools make their work more effective, less chaotic, 
and often more rewarding.

In my experience, I found that like most other change 
initiatives the success level was always related to 
how well a company built the foundation for its change 
initiative success. Their foundation for successful 
implementation had the mastering of relevant business 
basics as its core strength. Six Sigma is no different. 

It’s amazing how many companies have great visions yet 
fail to achieve their full growth and earnings 
potential. They're a lot like the Green Bay Packer's 
football team before the arrival of Vince Lombardi ... 
all the potential in the world but with little focus 
on executing the basics of their profession. 


For any Six Sigma initiative to be successful, the 
following three challenges must be conquered:

1. Companies need to identify which Six Sigma 
basics that are requisites for increasing speed, 
improving quality, and boosting profit margins?

2. Teams need to master these basics to provide a 
solid foundation for the successful implementation of 
Six Sigma? 

3. Someone needs to champion a “top-to-bottom,” company 
commitment to the flawless execution of the Six Sigma 
Basics? A commitment that will provide the launching 
pad for individual, team and company achievements 
beyond all expectations. 



If your company is interested in identifying and 
mastering the 8-Basics of Six Sigma, a good approach 
would be to consider Bill Gaw’s e-Tutorial, “Six 
Sigma Simplified, The 8-Basics of Lean Six Sigma.”

Our Web site Visitor’s Special for this tutorial is 
$397. . .that’s $100 below our retail price. Now, 
here’s an offer you shouldn’t pass up: During this 
week only, MB&BP subscribers can purchase their 
tutorial at a 25% discount from the Web site Visitor’s
Special price or for $297.00. Now that’s a savings of 
$200 from discount and many more hundreds less than 
attending a relevant seminar. 

You can check it out at:


Do it today because after this week you won’t see 
this special again for another year.


You are welcomed to print and share this bulletin with 
your manufacturing teams, peers and upper management ... 
better yet, have them signup for their own copy at:


With the escalating spam-wars, it's also a good idea 
to WHITELIST our bulletin mailing domain via your 
filtering software or control panel: 


This will help guarantee that your bulletin is never 
deleted unexpectedly.


Business Basics, LLC
6003 Dassia Way, Oceanside, CA 92056
West Coast: 760-945-5596
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Lean Six Sigma - Value Stream Mapping

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