Six Sigma: Still Relevant in 2021?

by Corey Philip //  September 23, 2021

In today’s competitive market, having the highest possible product quality is more important than ever before. With the way the internet has revolutionized marketing and provided all customers access to real product reviews, even a small percentage of defective products can seriously hurt the reputation of your company and the things you produce. Nearly 40 years ago a quality control system known as Six Sigma was created, with the potential to significantly reduce the amount of manufacturing errors for any given business, across all different industries! The question is: is Six Sigma still relevant today?

Well, the answer is a resounding yes! The principles of Six Sigma still hold true today, because even modern manufacturing and the world of marketing today doesn’t change basic good business practices. While an official Six Sigma certification may no longer give job applicants the competitive advantage it used to, the basic concepts still are and always will be relevant for any business that wants to increase their efficiency and decrease their margin of error in business practices and manufacturing.

What is Six Sigma?

If you’re reading this article, you’re most likely familiar with the basic idea of Six Sigma. If you aren’t, however, don’t worry! It sounds intimidating but the Six Sigma methodology and philosophy is pretty simple. Six Sigma is a process designed to help businesses improve the efficiency of their systems. Customer service issues, manufacturing defects, and other issues a business might face can be improved by the application of the Six Sigma process. The core philosophy is that any process that has errors at a rate higher than six sigma needs improvement. A sigma is equal to one standard deviation, effectively meaning that for a process to fall within the guidelines of Six Sigma it needs to have less than 3-4 errors or defects for every million repetitions of the process. Now this philosophy alone doesn’t solve any problems, the power of Six Sigma is in the application. Six Sigma includes a methodology for helping to improve business systems to meet this requirement.

Different Methods of Six Sigma

There are two different methods which an organization can use to implement Six Sigma, and while they follow slightly different processes either one can be a significant help for your business.  In this section we’ll outline the different Six Sigma methodologies and how they can help your organization create the results you want.


The first method of implementing Six Sigma is known as DMADV. This simple acronym breaks the process down into 5 steps, which are as follows:

  • Define: The first step to solving any problem is to clearly state the problem and what would be required of a viable solution. In this step your organization outlines the customer’s requirements, the current system you have to meet those requirements, and your goal to bring your actual results closer to those requirements.
  • Measure: In this step you measure everything you can about the way your current systems work. The goal of this step is essentially to determine by what margins your current output is falling short of customer requirements and which parts of your process will be the key factors in improving your production.
  • Analyze: To analyze your process, look at all the data your organization collected in the previous step and try to establish connections among the data that may be keeping your product quality from where your customers need it to be.
  • Design: The most important step of DMADV, design a new process using the data you have collected and analyzed. Focus on your key areas to ensure that the new process improves your product in the most efficient way possible.
  • Verify: Finally, verify the design. Run all applicable tests to ensure that the new system works better than the previous ones and implement the new system to see massive results for your organization.


The second, more popular, methodology for implementing Six Sigma is very similar to the first, but with a few key differences. In fact, the first 3 steps are essentially the same, and the real change comes in the last two. Where DMADV focuses on creating one new system and ensuring that it works with an organization’s current resources and needs, DMAIC is a longtime process that helps an organization establish a pattern of continuous improvement. The last two steps of DMAIC, replacing ‘Design’ and ‘Verify’ in DMADV, are:

  • Improve: In this step, instead of completely designing a new process you work to improve your current process. This is a key difference between DMADV and DMAIC because it allows your organization to tweak your system for greater and greater efficiency as time goes on instead of having to invest the time and resources necessary to design a whole new system.
  • Control: In the final step of the DMAIC process, the goal is to control the process in the future to ensure that any accidental changes of the process are fixed before they result in manufacturing errors. If the process has been successful to this point and the desired level of manufacturing quality has been reached, the process ends in continuous application of this final step. If the new system continues to be implemented, the DMAIC process has worked! If, however, the desired quality level has not been reached, the steps can be repeated as many times as necessary. This philosophy of continuous improvement is what makes DMAIC and Six Sigma so popular.


As you can see, although the term ‘Six Sigma’ isn’t heard nearly as much these days as it used to, the process can still be applied to great effect to manufacturing practices of today. Many other modern methodologies for improving efficiency and product quality have been inspired by Six Sigma, and a Six Sigma program can still provide a competitive advantage for individuals who want to increase their job outlook and for organizations seeking to minimize their errors and in turn, maximize their reputation.

About the author

Corey Philip

Corey Philip is a small business owner / investor with a focus on home service businesses.

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