Six Sigma from the Bottom Up

These applications are studied and measured by Six Sigma specialists who are well versed in the material. This method of high-level implementation helps to perform a strategic strike on a firm’s critical issues. Often there is a heavy investment, in terms of time and training, for these specialized employees to define, measure, analyze, implement and control these projects.

When I think of Six Sigma, I believe that all employees should be familiar with and engaged in the philosophy from the bottom-up. Frontline employees have an in-depth knowledge of the processes the company performs and can better identify issues as they present themselves. The Six Sigma philosophy defines a concept called “Gemba.” This is a Japanese term that means “the actual place.”

This refers to knowing the process that is being performed and how the different inputs are transformed with value-add services to the desired outputs. For example, in my role as an analyst, I identify process optimization opportunities through analysis of large historical data sets. However, my colleagues on the front lines of the process are often already aware of the sub-optimization occurring. Therefore, I believe that if employees are deeply involved with a process, they can identify issues and process trends that need to be addressed.

Since there is no out-of-box solution to continuous improvement, companies should utilize their employees from the bottom-up to realize the benefits of Six Sigma.