Screw Your Black Belt; I’m a Six Sigma Ninja

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.

6 Replies to “Screw Your Black Belt; I’m a Six Sigma Ninja”

  1. AT&T is being taking over by this Six Sigma crap every employee and most managers hate it! Everyone is overworked and stressed out! I personally think its making AT&T worse than it already was look for a major network failure in the future since the only way people are making the numbers is by pencil whipping important routines thats how more with less works and they think Six Sigma is improving the company what a joke!

  2. Six Sigma and LEAN. What a bunch of BS,. We spend countless $$ on painting the floor around worn out machines that we can’t stock parts for because that is to much MRO inventory or we shut lines down because just in time didn’t quite show up on the truck. Lean = Leave Employees Absolutely Nothing.

  3. i worked at a bank before i was redundant and was required to attend these asinine training conferences. the facilitator actually threw me out of a particularly ignorant class which claimed that taking my peeps’ pics out of their workspaces or holding pens or whatever the hell the phrase o cachet was would improve efficiency. great, now i gotta take away the only source of comfort for the kids, who already get all the blame for errors in a an environment where shit always rolls downhill (still). lip service: any real analysis stopped too soon with the eejits who did projects and believed the paper reality of the crap they implemented. so we never really had people listening to the workers in the front lines, nobody wanted to dmaic up the money to really fix anything (oddly a good bit of the time the fixes weren’t pricey), and the game of thrones blamed every other department for the failures. i don’t miss this cavalcade of dumbassery.

  4. It’s simple: Learning about processes ( Sig Sixma, CMMI, CMMI, Scrum ) and that bullshit get you off of doing the hardest thing: code. So instead of learning how programming, that is harder, learn process !! All you have to do is doing some blablabla, act as if you are an expert, give orders to a bunch of anti-social coders, and you will earn a lot of more money.
    Leave you this link …

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