QM), but this was decided to be inappropriate for the problem at hand because its activities were exclusive to a firm’s quality department and a few industrial engineers. They wanted a system that would involve everyone in the development of a high-quality and affordable product at faster life cycle. This was how the Six-Sigma process of quality improvement came into existence, whose use, objectives and benefits are discussed in this paper.
The six elements referred to in Six-Sigma as change agents in the production process are leadership, champions, sponsors, master black belts, black belts and green belts (Pyzdek, online). The reference to karate is explained by the fact that the concept was developed by the Japanese who took over Motorola in the 1970s when competition was driving the US operations of the Japanese company to the edge of bankruptcy. The Japanese themselves are credited with the earlier conceptualization of total quality management in their tenacious search for quality improvement in the 1950s. This was adopted in the US in the 1960s and in Europe in the 1980s. TQM attacks problems on product or service efficiency based on the premise that all activities in an organization contribute to quality or lack of it. However, TQM has lately come into disuse because of perceptions that quality improvement is an exclusive function of the quality department such that it is confined to the assigned quality circles and a few industrial engineers. Thus, it is concentrated on enhancing the organizational processes with the use of statistical methods and on defect reductions, with less consideration given to improving the bottom line (Das, 2005). The Six-Sigma method has a more expanded and all-encompassing focus. At Motorola, for example, the Japanese carried out the first Six Sigma project by finding ways to make production better, faster and cheaper, using the same workforce, the same technology and designs but a different management approach (Pyzdek,