Blogs » J.Q. Tomanek of Victoria » Black belt meets Ronald McDonald


Have you heard of Six Sigma? No it is not a fraternity in the Nerd's movies. The Sig Sauer probably doesn’t have a connection to it either, unless it is used in its production in some form or fashion. I doubt it has much relation to Sigma 7, a manned space craft that orbited the Earth.

Six Sigma is a business management strategy that seeks to minimize errors in the production of a hopeful outcome of 3.4 defects per million (or DPMO). Large organizations have used this approach starting with Motorola in the 80s. The practitioners of Six Sigma take their titles from martial arts. Hence, the chief among Six Sigmatists are master black belts, followed by black belts, and then green belts.

America was late in the ball game in adopting Total Quality Management practices. Unfortunately, many of the bigger businesses of post World War II didn’t have the customer in mind and figured the client would buy any product offered, regardless of quality. Japan, on the other hand, was recovering from the war and found it necessary to compete and wanted to get away from the low quality game that they had been known for. In walks William Edwards Deming with his knowledge of statistical methods and its application to management. For the next 30 or so years, America will continue to waver on quality management. It is not until the early 80s that Motorola attempts to improve and develop Six Sigma by the mid 80s. Today, many companies use this method of quality management. According to Deming, the short-term profits cannot be the over arching goal, rather it is a method that takes time to develop. However, once it is rolled out, the expectation is that better quality can reduce expenses and higher quality will also lead to more/faster/more accurate production which will generate more sales and this means more market share.

I think it would be nice if many of the fast food joints in town would adopt the Six Sigma approach for ordering in the drive-up window. In the past few weeks, I have received that which didn’t match what I ordered. Can you imagine getting almost every order right to the point of 3.4 mishaps per million opportunities (MPMO)?