Synopsis: In the late 1980's, Six Sigma replaced Total Quality Management (TQM) as the go-to management fad. And, as Lean Six Sigma, it remains a major force in today’s business world. This paper aims to understand Six Sigma, what is it, what is its technical background, how is it implemented and whether it has been successful in achieving its stated aim of enabling organisations to drastically improve their bottom line and improve their market position.
We look at the origins of Six Sigma, to understand the basic messages that make it more attractive to management than TQM, how it is implemented and why it is now out of fashion. We look at the experience of four organisations that have gone for full scale implementation of Six Sigma across their organisation, and the long-term effects of these programs. Did they achieve the growth they expected, or did it focus management attention away from core business matters?
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