Background And History/Introduction


Six Sigma is one of the most important and popular developments in the quality field. It has saved huge amounts of money and improved the customer experience for a large number of organizations across the world, yet it is applied in an inconsistent and often reductive fashion in many companies. This has led to criticism in the literature and a number of abandoned implementations.

This study guide is designed to provide an overview of the key elements, important historical context and current debates in the field of Six Sigma. It aims to give a coherent view of the underlying principles, and how these relate to practical application in a range of organizations as well as to other areas of study.

The guide lows from principles and background to more detailed consideration of Six Sigma as both a business level initiative and project - based improvement methodology. Due to the complexity of many of the issues addressed, it is possible to write much more on any single topic but I have tried to cover most of the key points in order to provide a foundation and further literature linked from the text allows the reader to investigate any topic in more depth if they wish. Finally, at the end of each chapter there are a number of questions for you to develop your thinking in the area.

Although many proponents of Six Sigma stress the uniqueness of the approach, it is, in fact, part of a continuing evolution of thinking in what might broadly be called “Quality”. It is important to see Six Sigma within this wider context.