The Church of the Six Sigma
by Dirk Dusharme
Too often I end up in the middle of discussions between authors and Quality Digest readers about the validity of one quality program over another. E-mails slam back and forth as I moderate discussions pitting Six Sigma against TQM, or fuzzy logic vs. conformance to specifications. These discussions very quickly deteriorate into arguments over dogma, with both sides sidestepping the usually valid points made by their opponents.
As a person who grew up in church and been in many, many theological discussions, I couldn’t help but notice the religious ferocity with which some of these discussions are conducted. “What must a meeting of the true believers of one of these quality religions be like?” I asked myself. So I decided to find out and paid a visit to the Church of the Six Sigma. I sat in the last pew… on the aisle… near the door. This is what I heard:
“Brothers and sisters, I welcome you here tonight as we gather to praise the name of Sigma. Can I get an amen! I’m not talking about three Sigma. No. And I wouldn’t even scrape my shoes on four Sigma. Uh-uh. And tell me, is five Sigma the path to perfection? Let me hear you say, ‘No!’ That’s right, brothers and sisters. It is not! We’re here tonight to praise the almighty Six Sigma!
“Now, some will try to confuse you with arguments over a 1.5 sigma shift. Those are idle voices trying to distract you from The Way. Don’t let those TQMers, Demingites and Crosbyterians turn your head from the one and only true path to quality. Be not misled by the teachings of the Taguchians and Juranistas, for they have fallen short of the true path to rightness.” [At this point a little guy in bow tie and black T-shirt with “What Would Juran Do?” emblazoned on the back gets up and walks out.]
“In this world today are many claiming to know the path to perfection. Oh yes, they talk the talk, and they talk the walk, but they balk at talk to walk the straight and narrow path that leads to penultimate perfection. They know the language of Cpks. Oh yes, and they know the language of process variability and statistical process control. And many will be deceived by their words and led down the path of unrightness with its wide spec limits.
“But brothers and sisters, it is only through the proper inspiration, amplification, application and regurgitation of Six Sigma as written in the holy books of our prophets that true rightness just short of perfection can be found. Glory be to Bill Smith the Father, and to Bob Galvin and to he whose name must not be named.
“Would you please all bow your heads. If there is anyone here tonight who has not accepted Six Sigma as your quality savior, or if you once followed Six Sigma but have backslid into unstable processes, or if, at a 95-percent confidence level, you find yourself wallowing in murky statistical waters, I want you to just slip up your hand and let us pray for you. Because I’m here tonight to tell you that Six Sigma is your salvation! Six Sigma is your light! It is only through Six Sigma that you will achieve almost-perfect processes. Amen.”
Then he started speaking in tongues. I’m not sure exactly what he said, but it sounded kind of like “Dfssdefine
measureanaly zeimprovecontrol paretoalterna tivehypothesis anovabillablehours.”