Newsletter subscribe

Blast from the Past, Blog

Six Sigma by Accident

Posted: August 29, 2018 at 11:31 pm   /   by   /   comments (0)

G U E S T  A R T I C L E

Blast from the Past

Six Sigma by Accident
Capital Quality News 2000 issue 4
By Bill Osborne

October’s section Meeting was treated to a very interesting session on Six Sigma presented by Gilles Pilon, Master Black Belt in Six Sigma

  1. Pilon usually entitles his talks “An Evening With Six Sigma”, an allusion to the classical format of an intimate relaxing encounter with a celebrity subject.
  2. Pilon presented an overall structure and methodology of six sigma, then the final part of the evening was a look at a case study of a certain well known Canadian food icon. The case study is as yet incomplete and is proprietary, so I can’t give details of it here. However M. Pilon described it as a study in industrial disassembly!!(as a hint it involves bacon…………).

The first part of the talk was focused on three topics of the 7 principals of 6 Sigma, the differences between the two main 6 sigma methodologies (DMAIC and DMADV), and finally tools for six sigma.

Explaining how he became involved in 6 sigma, Gilles stressed that it was by no means a result of a brilliant marketing plan or fabulous business acumen, but more or less by accident. Having spent the his career at Nortel, Digital and Compaq.

Leading into his first topic Gilles talked about the “Hidden Factory” that is the costs involved in rework and extra costs simply to make an acceptable product, illustrating his story with a horror tale of his lost baggage at Air Canada.(They’re easy to pick on these days” said Gilles) Finding retrieving and delivering lost baggage is an incredible amount of rework costs just to make a product (baggage handling)into a nearly acceptable service.

Asked if there was really anything new in six sigma Gilles stressed that no there isn’t anything fundamentally new, the difference is in the application. The things six sigma does differently are addressing the customers value expectations with a strong emphasis on building business value (it has to address a real project with real value), which is largely expressed by the two major metrics of sigma, the VOC (Voice of Customer) and the CTG (Critical to Quality)

An example of VOC is the choice between for example Tim Horton’s and Starbucks that is the voice of the customer expresses a need for a choice between speed and different taste versus better quality and choice with slower service.

The CTG then translates how well the organization is meeting customer needs.

The VOC is “I want good coffee: the CTG is the coffee is degrees, blue mountain,stays hot for 20 minutes i.e., specific measurables.

One of the most interesting portions of M. Pilon’s presentation was the concept of Big Y’s vs Little y’s and how to measure or identify intermediate process yields. There’s insufficient space here to go into it, but Gilles made his presentation available to members on CD.

Asked for the fundamental discriminator of six sigma. Gilles said it is in the concept of Breakthrough: Changing your improvement by large steps. He pointed out that going from 1 sigma to six sigma is a fundamentally huge step. By way of illustration a 1 sigma electricity availability translates to 9 days a month without power. While 6 sigma, translates to 9 seconds without power: obviously the difference is not something that can be achieved by “tinkering”it requires fundamental redesign and a new approach.

Targeting as needed use of data,a structured plan and identification of that was described as the “The Mountain Worth Dying on” which refers back to selecting a real project with real value.

Finally touching on the difference between the two major 6 sigma approaches Gilles explained that the decision to implement DMAIC (Define, Measure, Analyse, Design, Validate) lies in whether you want to waterproof the house or whether you want to rebuild the cottage!

A fascinating evening, with many questions asked and answered, this was one of the highlights of the Ottawa Valleys year so far.




Candice Carter

The post has been contributed by Candice Carter. You can contact her using our contact form.

About the author:

Bill Osborne

Bill Osborne is a long time member of ASQ Ottawa Valley. He is currently in Ghana, where he seeks to find quality in every aspect of Africa and continue with his lifelong education.

Other articles from Bill Osborne:

(1) ASANKO Ghana Gold Mine Site – Symbols that embody a culture of quality and safety
(2) Hwemudua – The Symbol for Quality Control
(3) 2015 World Conference on Quality and Improvement – Trip Report


ASQ Ottawa