The Four Core Phases of the Six Sigma Breakthrough Strategy

Dr. Mikel Harry, Ph.D., was a senior staff engineer at Motorola’s Government Electronics Group (GEG), and he created a detailed road map for improving product design and reducing production time and costs within GEG.   This road map involved implementing Six Sigma within Motorola, something he called the “Six Sigma Breakthrough Strategy”.   In his book he co-wrote with Richard Schroeder, a former Vice President of Motorola,  called Six Sigma:  The Breakthrough Management Strategy Revolutionizing the World’s Top Corporations, he explains in the second chapter of the book what the four core phases of the Six Sigma Breakthrough Strategy.

These phases are as follows.

1.  Measure Phase

In this phase, the company reviews the types of measurements systems and their key features, including how data is collected and reported.   If the company’s measurements are in error, this can prevent a company from being able to correctly analyze whether solutions to correct defects have actually worked or not.

2.  Analyze Phase

Here business problems are analyzed into statistical problems, in terms of how frequently they occur, or how they are correlated with specific technologies or processes.   This is essential in terms of isolating what the problem is that you need to solve in order to correct defects.

3.  Improve Phase

This is the process of discovering the key variables which are causing the problem responsible for creating defects.  Eventually, rather than changing industrial processes to reduce defects, companies should be striving for designing processes which create defect-free products in the first place.

4.  Control Phase

Once the problems are solved in the improve phase, the control phase is where such solutions are continuously monitored to make sure they stay in place.

The short term strategy is removing defects by improving existing processes; the long term strategy is refining the processes so that defects no longer occur.

In order to implement the Six Sigma strategy, however, there is one indispensable mathematical tool and that is the mathematical framework of statistics.    In the next post, I discuss how this is an essential tool of Six Sigma.


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