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


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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    ABSTRACT: Business innovation, that is, the adaptation of management systems to the changing conditions of the environment, is a key factor for organisations if they wish to survive and grow. Total quality management (TQM) has demonstrated its potential to be a successful way for organisations to elimintate costs, improve productivity and gain a competitive edge in the marketplace. However, are TQM and business innovation compatible? The advantages and disadvantages to TQM as a means of developing and facilitating business innovations are discussed in this paper. It is argued that TQM does not hinder business innovation and some of its dimensions can assist an organsation to be more innovative. The compatibility of reengineering, which is a form of business innovation, with TQM is also considered in the paper, along with the effects of TQM on the successful implementation of information technologies.
    Full-text · Article · Mar 1999 · European Journal of Innovation Management
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    ABSTRACT: Purpose – Since its introduction by Motorola in the 1980s, six sigma and its philosophy have found widespread application in many manufacturing industries. It has also inspired applications in service industries. It is felt that there is a need to take stock of the knowledge accumulated in what is now an emerging field of study and look for directions to take the application of six sigma further in services. This article aims to review six sigma application in services along five main themes. The article seeks to draw on these themes to reflect on the wider applicability of six sigma in services. Design/methodology/approach – An analysis of relevant publications, citations and references was carried out using multiple databases. The impact of various key researches in this area is also discussed. The analysis then moves to discussing the necessary factors for success, key performance indicators, critical to quality characteristics, and the benefits and limitations of applying six sigma in services. Findings – The findings are based on analysis done both quantitatively and qualitatively. The quantitative analysis shows that articles on this topic are scattered in various types of publications and there is dominance of a few articles in terms of average citation rate. The qualitative analysis shows that application of six sigma in the service sector is concentrated in a few services. The articles provide parameters to be considered for successful implementation of six sigma and there is some unanimity among articles on these parameters. Overall the literature analysis on this topic shows that six sigma is slowly but surely finding structured and beneficial application in service industries. Research limitations/implications – The quantitative and qualitative literature analysis provides the knowledge on the five themes discussed in this article. The non-availability of citations in well-known databases like SCI Expanded and the inflated citations by probable self-citations limit the proper interpretation of average citation rate. Further research can be done in expanding the knowledge base on the discussed themes in different types of service industries. Practical implications – The article provides a theoretical framework consisting mainly of critical success factors, critical to quality characteristics, and key performance indicators as management guidelines to widen the application of six sigma in service industries. Originality/value – This article contributes with a literature review, an analysis on the articles both quantitatively and qualitatively, and discusses how their contribution can be utilized for further research on this particular topic.
    Full-text · Article · Mar 2007 · Journal of Service Theory and Practice
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    ABSTRACT: Purpose – Six Sigma has been part of our business lexicon for more than a decade. Debates on its emergence as a strategic initiative have created critics who consider it as an old wine in a new bottle. Is Six Sigma a management fad? This article presents some common myths and realities of Six Sigma business strategy. The paper provides an excellent resource for those people who would like to know whether Six Sigma is just a management fad or fact. Design/methodology/approach – The paper discusses some common myths and realities of Six Sigma by critically reviewing the existing literature on Six Sigma and also provides a greater insight into the viewpoints of leading academics and practitioners. Findings – Six Sigma is neither a fad nor just another quality initiative. It relies on factual data coupled with hard work and is a disciplined and structured problem-solving methodology. The authors strongly argue its integration with other continuous/breakthrough improvement initiatives for sustaining the merits of Six Sigma in the twenty-first century. The paper also elucidates the role of academia in further developing and establishing the best practices of Six Sigma management strategy. Six Sigma will evolve over time like many other initiatives – however, the key concepts, the principles of statistical thinking, tools and techniques of Six Sigma, will stay for many years, irrespective of whatever the “next big thing” will be. Practical implications – In the authors' opinion, Six Sigma will continue to grow as a powerful management initiative for achieving and sustaining operational and service excellence. However, what will eventually determine whether Six Sigma is viewed by businesses as just a passing management fad or not, largely depends on the leadership and success of its execution. The authors believe that organisations developing and implementing Six Sigma should not view it as an advertising banner for promotional purposes. Originality/value – The paper yields a great value to both researchers and practitioners of Six Sigma in dispelling the myths of Six Sigma, which have been quite prevalent in the business fraternity.
    Full-text · Article · Sep 2008 · International Journal of Quality & Reliability Management
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