Six Sigma Black Belt Training and Customers

Six Sigma Black Belt Training and Customers

Focusing on the customer is essential to the success of any business. We all recognize this idea. But do we really internalize this idea? Do we really believe that such a focus has the potential to drive business growth and improve the quality of our day-to-day work as well as improve the chance that our business, and hence our jobs, will flourish?

Business growth depends on how well we meet customer expectations in terms of quality, price, and delivery. In turn, our ability to satisfy these needs with certainty is controlled by process capability and the amount of variation in our processes (and these processes could be any kind of process, ranging from administrative to manufacturing). Variation has a direct impact on our business results in terms of cost, cycle time, and the amount of defects that affect customer satisfaction.

It is vital that every employee in the company understand the values and philosophy of Six Sigma. Six Sigma encompasses several things — it is a metric, it is a problem solving methodology and set of tools — but most important it is a total business philosophy that our company has embraced in order to achieve the growth aspirations of our businesses. It is important that we reflect on how the values and philosophy of Six Sigma is different from the beliefs, values, and priorities we currently emphasize in our organizations. This is vital because those things that are truly valued in an organization, those things that get the attention, are the things that drive everyone’s behavior.

A key activity in Six Sigma is understanding (in quantifiable terms) customer needs and translating these needs into the measurable outcomes of our processes (what we call a “need-do” pair). In turn, we need to focus on understanding and measuring the inputs to the process and looking at the root causes of variation in our processes.

In summary, if we value customer satisfaction as a prerequisite of business survival and growth, and if we accept that to a customer uncertainty and variation from what they expect is a quality problem, then we must focus on the root issues that make our internal processes inconsistent and variable. The only way to ensure that this focus happens is to make sure we place a value and emphasis on it and this takes measurements, since, as the old cliche goes, “what gets measured, gets done”. If we don’t measure, or don’t know how to measure inconsistency, variation, defects, etc. then how will we achieve customer satisfaction?

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Jacquelyn Donner, Master Six Sigma Black Belt