Six Sigma, both a statistical term and a method developed by Bill Smith, an engineer at Motorola in the 1980s, has allowed companies in a number of industries to improve their business processes, product quality, and overall financial performance. The concept was championed by Jack Welsh when he was CEO of GE, and a number of pharmaceutical companies, including Merck and Johnson & Johnson (J&J) adopted the practice enthusiastically in the past.
The principles of Lean Manufacturing, including its focus on the customer and employees and its emphasis on minimizing waste, enriched Six Sigma’s overall framework of “Design, Measure, Analyze, Improve, and Control” (DMAIC). The resulting “Lean Six Sigma” (LSS) programs allowed companies in a number of industries to achieve significant improvements in efficiency and product quality. However, LSS programs need senior management support if they are to work, says consultant and statistician Ron Snee, coauthor of Leading Six Sigma - A Step-by-Step Guide Based on Experiences with GE and Other Six Sigma Companies.