Six Sigma Surgical Approach Explained

Six Sigma in the Operating Room–The Six Sigma Surgical Approach Explained

The term Six Sigma originated from terminology associated with statistical modeling of manufacturing processes. Motorola set a goal of “six sigma” for all of its manufacturing operations, and this goal became a by-word for the management and engineering practices used to achieve it. (registered as a Motorola trademark on December 28, 1993).

Specifically, the manufacturing process is described by a sigma rating indicating its yield or the percentage of defect-free products it creates. A six sigma process is the pinnacle—is one in which 99.99966% of all opportunities to produce some feature of a part are statistically expected to be free of defects (3.4 errors to 1 million successes).

Six Sigma doctrine asserts:

  • Continuous efforts to achieve stable and predictable process results (e.g. by reducing process variation) are of vital importance to business success.
  • Manufacturing and business processes have characteristics that can be defined, measured, analyzed, improved, and controlled.
  • Achieving sustained quality improvement requires commitment from the entire organization, particularly from top-level management.

Features that set Six Sigma apart from previous quality-improvement initiatives include:

  • A clear focus on achieving measurable and quantifiable financial returns from any Six Sigma project.
  • An increased emphasis on strong and passionate management leadership and support.
  • A clear commitment to making decisions on the basis of verifiable data and statistical methods, rather than assumptions and guesswork.

Recently, Six Sigma ideas merged with lean manufacturing to create a methodology named Lean Six Sigma.[10] The Lean Six Sigma methodology views lean manufacturing, which addresses process flow and waste issues, and Six Sigma, with its focus on variation and design, as complementary disciplines aimed at promoting “business and operational excellence”.[10] Companies such as GE,[11] Verizon, GENPACT, and IBM use Lean Six Sigma to focus transformation efforts not just on efficiency but also on growth. It serves as a foundation for innovation throughout the organization, from manufacturing and software development to sales and service delivery functions. It essentially, is an ideal way to do business.