Its goal is to ensure that there are no problems with any product or service that GE provides. This is done through quarterly customer surveys and daily manufacturing checks by internal engineers (Cohen, 1997).Since the 1980s, GE has sought improvement in business-performance and profitability through various programs (Hendericks and Kelbaugh, 1998). However, in 1995, Welch decided that those programs were not enough and directed the company to undertake Six Sigma as a corporate initiative. He said that it "is the only initiative he will introduce, but it will be introduced everywhere".The introduction of Six Sigma within GE was a dramatic culture change requiring impetus from the very top. Welch's personal leadership and direction was necessary and instrumental in the rollout of Six Sigma. When the employees tried to dismiss Six Sigma as the program of the month, Welch changed the business structure at a corporate level to underscore the importance of the goal. He implemented two notable strategic changes:The concept of Six Sigma at GE deals with measuring and improving how close the company comes in delivering on what it planned to do. Six Sigma provides a way for improving processes so that the company can more efficiently and predictably produce world-class products and services. There is a five-phased methodology applied by a Six Sigma team to tackle specific problems to reach Six Sigma levels (Paul, 1999). (We note that when Six Sigma was first launched at GE Aircraft Engines, a four-step methodology (MIAC) was followed. Recently, the Define phase has been added to recognize the importance of having a well-scoped project and to be in line with the current practices across GE):
(1) Phase 1 - define (D). Who are the customers and what are their priorities
A Six Sigma project team identifies a project suitable for Six Sigma efforts based on business objectives as well as customer needs and feedback.
As part of the definition phase, the team identifies those attributes, called CTQs (critical to quality characteristics), that the customer considers to have the most impact on quality.
(2) Phase 2 - measure (M). How is the process measured and how is it performing
The team identifies the key internal processes that influence CTQs and measures the defects currently generated relative to those processes.
(3) Phase 3 - analyze (A). What are the most important causes of defects
The team discovers why defects are generated by identifying the key variables that are most likely to create process variation.
(4) Phase 4 - improve (I). How do we remove the causes of the defects
The team confirms the key variables and quantifies their effects on the CTQs.
It also identifies the maximum acceptable ranges of the key variables and validates a system for measuring deviations of the variables.
The team modifies the process to stay within the acceptable range.
(5) Phase 5 - control (C). How can we maintain the improvements
Tools are put in place to ensure that under the modified