Innovation in management system by Six Sigma: an empirical study of world-class companies

International Journal of Lean Six Sigma 08/2010; 1(3):172-190. DOI: 10.1108/20401461011074991

ABSTRACT Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to demonstrate the effectiveness of Six Sigma as an innovation tool in management system. In this regard, the comprehensive impact of Six Sigma is provided based on Osada's management system model in terms of driver, enabler, and performance. Then, the causal relationship diagram is drawn among critical success factors to show how Six Sigma innovates the management system. Finally, the comparison between Six Sigma and total quality management (TQM) is discussed to reveal the strength of Six Sigma as an innovation tool in management system. Design/methodology/approach – An empirical study of world-class companies was undertaken. Several of the companies were analyzed intensively namely Sony and Du Pont by interviewing and circulating questionnaires to the key actors of Six Sigma. Findings – The paper confirms that Six Sigma has a positive and comprehensive impact on changing the management system. Six Sigma has been harmonizing and synergizing people and processes by establishing a clear linkage among critical factors. This linkage, as a critical strength in innovation, is described by a causal relationships diagram using the system dynamics principle. By comparing with TQM, this paper has identified that Six Sigma has additional features named as disseminating commitment and sustaining spirit. Practical implications – The findings suggest that Six Sigma can potentially be used as an innovation tool for leveraging organizational performance. This paper provides a comprehensive perspective on how Six Sigma should be perceived and implemented to gain maximum potential. Hence, this paper is expected to provide a significant contribution to academia and practitioners in understanding the application of Six Sigma. Originality/value – The paper analyzes the impact of Six Sigma in a more organized approach than previous report. This approach categorizes the impact based on driver, enabler, and performance through an empirical study. Additionally, the relationship diagram and the comparison between Six Sigma and TQM are established in this paper. It is believed that such study is rarely published in academic journals.

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