Comparing Six Sigma to other well-known operational improvement or quality improvement processes is challenging, as its use has grown and its definition has broadened. Six Sigma is a metric, method, management system--driven by data to improve quality through identifying, isolating and eliminating variation in business processes. The premise is based around preventing errors rather than detecting them, thereby eliminating the need for fire-fighting.

Six Sigma as it is implemented in businesses typically follows a formal process with stage gates at each step of the DMAIC (Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, Control) process. Within each phase, specific techniques are employed, including mapping, statistical analysis, problem solving, experiments, stakeholder management, solution identification and control plans.

Kepner-Tregoe can support your Six Sigma program through direct training, consulting and coaching or can enhance your Six Sigma program through targeted application of specific KT Clear Thinking methods.

Eliminating ‘Special Cause’ problems is one of the most complementary and effective uses of our Problem Solving process. (Six Sigma specific processes such as control charts, design of experiments (DOE), process mapping and cause and effect are typically focused around ‘common cause’ problems where it is necessary to change the inputs or process in order to effect a change on the end result.) Special cause problems are typically related to a single, unique event where it is necessary to identify the root cause to prevent future occurrences. Kepner-Tregoe Problem Analysis is recognized worldwide as the gold standard tool for this type of issue with examples of causes including:

  • Changes in settings
  • New or different operators
  • Differences in raw material suppliers
  • Anomalies in environmental conditions

Clients often use Six Sigma to address “common cause” problems and KT Problem Analysis to address “special cause” problems. However, KT Problem Analysis is used by many clients across both “special cause” and “common cause” problems with marked success.

Find out more about how Six Sigma or KT Problem Analysis can improve your business operations by contacting us.