Archive for June, 2010

What is difference between ISO 9000 and Six sigma as quality standards?

June 30, 2010

On being asked to summarize the differences between two quality standards, ISO 9000 and Six sigma, this is how I replied:

A. ISO 9001 is a management system standard.
B. Six-sigma is a statistical description of process performance.

A. ISO 9001 focuses organizations on their management system that governs the processes that yield products. At the system level ISO 9001 is inviting organizations to address common (system level) causes of process variation. The process-based management systems specified by ISO 9001 can be used to assure product quality and manage continual improvement (to add value faster and prevent loss sooner).

B. Six-sigma is a continual improvement methodology. Most organizations run at two or three sigma.  Six-sigma focuses on designing products so they can be made with fewer defects and on running projects to progressively remove the most costly assignable causes of process variation. Many organizations mistakenly focus their six-sigma efforts on manufacturing before product design. Six-sigma literally means 3.4 defects per one million products. I understand that US airlines with the FAA run their safety processes at about 7-sigma.

So, A and B are designed to work together. Most text books do not mention the 10 to 20 year investment that Motorola, Allied Signal and other six sigma leaders made in developing their management systems before investing in six-sigma. Consequently, perhaps, many organizations using these books have neglected their systems and waste money on their six-sigma efforts because they are let down by inadequate management systems.

To summarize, ISO 9001 specifies a process-based management system which could include its six sigma improvement process.  So, both are compatible and many would say that you should first put in place the organization’s process-based management before investing in six sigma training to turbo-charge the system’s improvement process.

In conclusion, develop your process-based management system first. Run it to assure quality and prevent pollution for a few years. Then invest in six sigma to supercharge your continual improvement process to yield even more cost savings from design, production and delivery.

Please note that certification is not necessary for this but may provide marketing benefits.

Getting the system right

June 3, 2010


One team requires people working together as a lean, global enterprise for automotive leadership as measured by: Customer, Employee, Dealer, Investor, Supplier, Union/Council and Community Satisfaction.

One plan requires:

Aggressively restructuring to operate profitably at the current demand and changing model mix

Accelerating development of new products our customers want and value

Working together effectively as one team (matrix organization of functions serving business units).

The goal is an exciting and viable Ford delivering profitable growth for all.


Foster Functional and Technical Excellence:
o Know and have a passion for our business and our customers.
o Demonstrate and build functional and technical excellence.
o Ensure process discipline.
o Have a continuous improvement philosophy and practice.

Own Working Together:
o Believe in skilled and motivated people working together.
o Include everyone; respect, listen to, help and appreciate others.
o Build strong relationships; be a team player; develop ourselves and others.
o Communicate clearly, concisely and candidly.

Role Model Ford Values:
o Show initiative, courage, integrity and good corporate citizenship.
o Improve quality, safety and sustainability.
o Have a can do, find a way attitude and emotional resilience.
o Enjoy the journey and each other; have fun – never at others’ expense.

Deliver Results:
o Deal positively with our business realities; develop compelling and comprehensive plans, while keeping an enterprise view.
o Set high expectations and inspire others.
o Make sound decisions using facts and data.
o Hold ourselves and others responsible and accountable for delivering results and satisfying our customers.

Mike Mulally carries copies of this, his shared plan and policy for changing and leading Ford. A company not owned by taxpayers.