What is Six Sigma and why do you have “Black Belt” under your title? Are you some sort of Karate expert and how does that relate to business? These questions seem to always come up when I meet new business contact that do not have experience in the world of Six Sigma.


To set the record straight, Six Sigma is defined as a performance target of 3.4 defects per million opportunities by minimizing variation and improving process capability. But it’s also much more than that. Six Sigma is a data driven problem solving methodology that utilizes the DMAIC process or Define-Measure-Analyze-Improve and Control to solve problems and improve processes. It’s also a system that gives practitioners tools to use out side of DMAIC to streamline, organize and lean out processes at a quicker pace.


The belt titles were adopted due to the synergy in mastering the levels of martial arts to the mastery of the Six Sigma methodology. Similar to marital arts one must complete training and then demonstrate their abilities to earn the belt. In Six Sigma to receive a “Green Belt” certification one must complete extensive classroom training and then complete a project that saves your company at least $50,000 and demonstrates the complete DMAIC process. Additional training plus a second project will earn you the “Black Belt” title.


At Beckwood, custom is our bread and butter so variation is at the heart of what we do. I had a very unique problem to solve because I’m trained to hunt down variation and eliminate it. I soon figured out that while the work piece may always be different the process is not. We have been able to streamline our process flow, eliminate non-value added steps and improve our organization on the shop floor by implementing the sound practices of Six Sigma. It doesn’t stop there! By analyzing each press and piece of equipment we build our goal is to improve our products and delight our customers. Six Sigma is the vehicle and lean manufacturing coupled with satisfied customers is the destination.    

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