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Common myths of six sigma demystified

Kumar, Maneesh and Antony, Jiju and Madu, Christian N. and Montgomery, Douglas C. and Park, Sung H. (2008) Common myths of six sigma demystified. International Journal of Quality and Reliability Management, 25 (8). pp. 878-895. ISSN 0265-671X

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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.