If there’s one thing corporate employees love more than working long hours, it’s giving stupid names to simple concepts.
There’s a really long explanation involving lots of math, but I will give you the short version: Six Sigma is a methodology designed to eliminate defects and improve efficiency. The name “Six Sigma” comes from being six levels of standard deviation away from the mean of a process on a normal distribution graph. Boring, right? Basically Six Sigma means you’re operating at 99.9997% efficiency.
Like many other things in the corporate world, Six Sigma is full of pseudo-words (things that would be acronyms if they actually spelled anything, but don’t), such as:
DMAIC (Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, Control)
DMADV (Define, Measure, Analyze, Design, Verify)
But let’s be honest, that’s pretty typical.
Six Sigma proponents also like to throw around words they’ve borrowed from statistics, like axiomatic design, chi-square testing, homoscedasticity, regression analysis, and the taguchi method.
But the best thing about Six Sigma is its ranking structure. People involved in Six Sigma are given a karate rank, beginning with Green Belt, then becoming a Black Belt, and then, if they’re deemed worthy, they may go on to become a Master Black Belt! I think there’s also a title of Sensei in there somewhere. Hi-ya!
I’m not joking.
I can only imagine how this started. Some old businessmen sitting around in a conference room discussing models to improve efficiency, and one of them probably said “you know, this stuff is awfully dry and boring. How will we ever get our employees to learn all this crap and follow all these rules without them falling asleep?”
They probably pondered that question for weeks.
And then, at a followup meeting, one of them spoke forth: “I’ve got it! If we assign them karate ranks based on how much Six Sigma propaganda they’ve memorized, they will feel self-important and empowered!
And I bet you the reply was “that’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard in my life!”
And then I bet you after a few moments of contemplation, he added: “It’s definiately going to work.”
He was right.