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Process Improvement Essentials by James R. Persse PhD

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Six Sigma Structure and Design

To understand the structure and design of Six Sigma, it's helpful to first understand the philosophy of Six Sigma. The philosophy behind Six Sigma could be summarized as "Deliver Quality." That capital Q in Quality is important. It implies a certain kind of quality, and that is what Six Sigma drives at, a very special definition of quality. Quality is not whatever happens to be the biggest, the strongest, the prettiest, the best, or the coolest. It is not what your organization says it is. It is not what your competition thinks it is. In the world of Six Sigma, quality is what your customer wants. That is all it is. The meaning of the word quality comes from that source and that source only. Nothing else matters. Everything else is irrelevant. GE calls this the Voice of the Customer (VOC).

The Voice of the Customer

You'll see VOC mentioned a lot in Six Sigma descriptions. Six Sigma springs from this idea. Jack Welch made this a popular mantra at GE. The Voice of the Customer means that you listen to the customers and give them what they want, what they need. Do they want light bulbs shaped like question marks? Not if we're listening. They want light bulbs you only have to change every seven years.

The concept of the Voice of the Customer makes perfect business sense. It's a perfectly logical basis for defining quality. Most consumers (customers, clients, call them what you will) want a product or a service that fills a need. But they don't want an ongoing ...

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