. . . Simplified.
Chowdhury's new book will help everyone in your company comprehend-and
buy into-this powerful management philosophy.
Chicago, IL-Sure, you've heard about the world's hottest business
initiative, but you're having trouble getting past the daunting name.
Six Sigma. It sounds like a complex mathematical equation you'd
need an engineering degree to understand. But when you consider the benefits
of this revolutionary system-greater productivity, better employee morale
and a healthier bottom line, just to name a few-it's clear you owe it
to your company and career to jettison your fear and learn all about it.
Well, cheer up. There's a new book on the market that makes this intimidating
topic downright simple . . . even entertaining.
The Power of Six Sigma: An Inspiring Tale of How an Extraordinary Process
is Transforming the Way We Work (Dearborn Trade, 2001, ISBN: 0-7931-4435-5,
U.S. $17.95, Canada $26.95), authored by Subir Chowdhury, brings this
management philosophy down to a level that everyone can understand. In
fact, if you've got an hour or so to spare-say, during your morning train
ride or on your lunch break-you can learn the nuts and bolts of Six Sigma.
What makes this book so unusual (and so fascinating) is its fictional
format. The story is told from the point of view of Joe Meter, a middle
manager who has just been fired from the "burger" division of
franchise company American Foods. Wanting to kill some time before going
home and breaking the news to his family, he calls old friend and coworker
Larry Hogan, who now has a successful career with the corporation's "American
In The Power of Six Sigma, Larry illustrates the process by telling
the story of how American Pizza solved its underlying problems, increased
its efficiency and, in the process, found profitable new ways to serve
its clients. This is an engaging way to get a point across. But perhaps
the best measure of the book's effectiveness is the fact that, as you
read, you find yourself applying its principles to your own company.
The story begins as the two men meet for lunch at a new American Pizza
store. There, Larry explains to his dejected friend that Six Sigma is
the reason the pizza division has thrived while the burger division has
been sluggish-and why Larry's career has taken off while Joe's has come
to an untimely end. Their ensuing conversation is the book.
"Six Sigma is a management philosophy focused on eliminating mistakes,
waste and rework," explains Chowdhury (in the voice of Larry). "It's
not a rah-rah 'Do Better' program. It establishes a measurable status
to achieve, and embodies a strategic problem-solving method to increase
client satisfaction and dramatically enhance the bottom line. It teaches
your employees how to improve the way they do business, scientifically
and fundamentally, and maintain their new performance level."
First things first: let's tackle the name. Sigma is a Greek letter
used to designate a standard deviation. In business terms it measures
the capability of any given process to perform defect-free work. The higher
the sigma value, the less likely that a process will produce defects.
Six is the level of perfection that a Six Sigma company aims to
As Larry explains it, "if a company is working at One Sigma, that
means it's making about 700,000 defects per million opportunities . .
. at Two Sigma you're making a little over 300,000 mistakes per million
opportunities. Most companies operate between Three and Four Sigma, which
means they make between approximately 67,000 and 6,000 mistakes per million
In other words, a company that operates at 3.8 Sigma is getting it right
99% of the time. To most people, that sounds good. But in fact, it's the
equivalent of 20,000 lost articles of mail every hour . . . or 5,000 botched
surgical procedures every week . . . or four accidents per day at major
airports. The whole point of this management philosophy is that 99% is
not good enough.
The goal of the Six Sigma process is to make only 3.4 "mistakes"
per every million activities-or to get it right 99.99966% of the time!
The power of Six Sigma, Chowdhury asserts throughout his book, is People
Power combined with Process Power.
First, let's consider the people involved. The bulk of the work takes
place in middle management. A company's most outstanding managers-people
with drive and intellect-are chosen as "Black Belts," trained
intensively in the Six Sigma philosophy, then given the support and the
resources they need to work fulltime on a specific project. Once the deadlines
have been met and numerical goals have been reached, a Black Belt moves
on to other projects.
Process Power, the other part of the equation, encompasses five steps:
Define the problem, Measure where you stand, Analyze
where the problem starts, Improve the situation, and Control
the new process to confirm that it's fixed. That's DMAIC, or as Chowdhury's
Larry remembers it, "Dumb Managers Always Ignore
Chowdhury wrote this book because he wants employees at all levels of
a corporation-from CEOs on down to factory workers-to understand the true
power behind Six Sigma.
"Some corporations that have adopted this process have thrived,"
he says. "But others may be implementing it ineffectively because
they either miss the point or can't communicate it to their people. Acceptance
is the key to its success, and my book makes that possible. It helps everyone
in a company understand Six Sigma so they'll buy into it 100 percent."
"My publishers came up with a great slogan for my book," Chowdhury
adds. "It is 'finally, Six Sigma for the rest of us!' I think that
says it best of all."
# # #
Chowdhury is Executive Vice President of the American Supplier Institute
and former Chairman of the American Society for Quality's Automotive Division.
He has been awarded by the honorable U.S. Congress and Automotive Hall
of Fame. Chowdhury, a young business professional, is rapidly becoming
known as one of the best management thinkers of the 21st century. He lives
with his wife Malini in Novi, Michigan.
Power of Six Sigma is in the process of being translated into the following
French, Portuguese, Chinese Complex Characters (Taiwan), Korean and
editions will be available for Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, India,
Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nepal, Maldives, and Sri Lanka.
Editions Are Currently Available For:
more about the International Editions please call 1-800-462-4500 Ext.
228 or email email@example.com