Ten Places to Find Help for Six Sigma
Six Sigma is big, and it can seem almost daunting at times. Don’t be afraid to seek help. Although you may be blazing new trails through your own life and organization, thousands of people have forged similar trails before you. You have many, many resources for all kinds of help on every Six Sigma subject imaginable.
Court your colleagues
Chances are you know someone who has been directly involved in Six Sigma. If you’re working in a company that’s deployed Six Sigma, you have Champions, Master Black Belts, and Black Belts all around you. Also, thousands of certified practitioners from early-adopter Six Sigma companies such as GE have spread across the globe.
Even if you don’t know of anyone personally, you may be surprised by just how few degrees of separation lie between your interest and a Six Sigma expert. Ask your friends and associates.
Web searches and social networks for Six Sigma
Web portals aggregate vast sums of information and whisk you directly to the source with the click of your computer mouse. The web is a good starting point for outside help.
Social media sites such as LinkedIn and Facebook have forums and communities dedicated to topics around Six Sigma. Check out the specialty forum iSixSigma.
Contact Six Sigma corporations
Hundreds of corporations have deployed Six Sigma in every industry and corner of the world. Many of them will openly meet with you to discuss their experiences and offer advice. Several, such as pioneers Motorola and GE, have consulting groups that offer this advice as a service. Don’t hesitate to call on a company that’s been through the process.
Join Six Sigma associations and societies
Associations and professional societies offer a variety of services to members, including access to knowledge, special events, contacts, and discounts on materials and services. If you’re entering the Six Sigma world, you should join one of these organizations:
The Shingo Prize for Operational Excellence: This award and accreditation body combines the best of Six Sigma and Lean principles into guidelines and a model for operational excellence.
American Society for Quality (ASQ): ASQ is the largest quality association in the United States, with over 100,000 members.
Six Sigma Benchmarking Association: This association conducts benchmarking studies, shares best practices, and facilitates process improvement and total quality.
American Statistical Association (ASA): ASA is a scientific and educational society that promotes statistical practice, applications, and research; publishes statistical journals; and improves statistical education.
The International Society of Six Sigma Professionals (ISSSP): ISSSP is the industry organization that caters to the professional.
The Royal Statistical Society (RSS): RSS, based in the United Kingdom, is the world’s oldest quality association. RSS publishes a journal, organizes meetings, sets and maintains professional standards, accredits university courses, and administers examinations.
Attend Six Sigma conferences
Numerous organizations regularly sponsor conferences and symposia across the United States and around the world on topics in Six Sigma, quality, and business process improvement. These conferences are outstanding forums for meeting with peers, surveying product and service providers, and attending seminars on current topics. In addition, Worldwide Conventions and Business Forums hosts Six Sigma conferences, including market-specific events focused on healthcare.
In addition to these major industry events, many events of specialty topical interest hosted by associations, consultancies, and tool vendors occur regularly. Check out the International Conference on Axiomatic Design, or the TRIZ Futures Conference.
Read Six Sigma books
At last count, the number of books on Six Sigma is nearly 1,000 titles! You can find them easily online through Amazon. The authors of these tomes are usually consultants and practitioners who have published these works based directly on industry experience. The works are generally grouped by topic; choose the ones that suit you.
Talk to technology vendors
An increasing number of powerful software and technology products to enable your Six Sigma initiatives are on the market. These vendors sell the software, provide product training, and assist with implementation and integration in your environment.
Chat with consultants
Numerous consultancies cater to supporting Six Sigma initiatives and can help you with every aspect of your interest — from Should I consider a Six Sigma initiative? to How do I run a process simulation? and everything in between. The consultancies fall primarily into three categories:
Large scale consultancies from Big-6-type firms: These firms have Six Sigma expertise but also tend to provide enterprise-class coverage of topics in business process management and information technology systems integration.
Six Sigma consultancies: These firms cater specifically to Six Sigma implementation and support.
Boutiques: Numerous highly focused one-person firms dot the landscape; these consultants provide specialized assistance in specific topics and areas.
Consulting is expensive. Don’t be surprised to pay $3,000 or more per day for experienced senior consulting. It’s worth it if you can afford it.
Survey the Six Sigma trainers
Training in the principles and practices of Six Sigma is a commodity industry with many providers. Training is available in every conceivable topic and format, including traditional classroom, computer-based training, and asynchronous learning networks. Several firms license training materials and train a company’s trainers. Training providers come in three main flavors:
Academics: More and more colleges and universities offer Six Sigma training, usually through the engineering department or the business school, as either part of the undergraduate/graduate curriculum or as an outreach through a professional development center. Contact your local institution for more information.
Training consultancies: Most of the Six Sigma consulting firms also offer training. Unlike many academic sources, consultancies train on both technical and nontechnical topics. In addition, they often tailor the training curriculum to the needs of a particular business.
Online training: Online training is increasingly available on topics in Six Sigma. Online courses are available through universities, and several of the training consultancies are also offered by firms that specialize in online curriculum.