My first encounter with Six Sigma was via one of the best shows on TV, 30 Rock. Then I found out that it was an actual REAL thing. A co-worker of mine, Amanda Toohey, is a Green Belt in Six Sigma, and I was instantly intrigued. Belts? Like martial arts? Well, not quite.
In September I had the pleasure of taking the Six Sigma Fundamentals class here at the University of Oklahoma sans Jack Donaghy. This certification is offered under OU Outreach. College of Engineering professor, Dr. B.M. Pulat, teaches the 5 day course over 3 weekends.
I’m the complete opposite of an engineer. Numbers make me nervous. Numbers intimidate me. My worse subjects were always math, and…math. I took one (count ‘em) ONE math course in my entire college career. And that was more than fine with me. But I was about to embark on Six Sigma training, and I knew there was math…lots of it. I was nervous.
To my surprise the math was very basic. Plug in the numbers, add, subtract, divide…square root. Using my (borrowed) TI-83 Plus made me feel like a real math whiz. For the first time in my life I was calculating things that made sense to me. We applied all of our calculations to real life situations, which made so much more sense to me.
Some may say Six Sigma is only for factories and assembly lines. While this is most definitely true, it is not the total truth. Lean/Six Sigma can be applied to any kind of process. Just think about your daily activities and how you waste time and energy. If you did things a little differently you could probably get rid of that waste. Think about how much time we waste on the bureaucracy of the higher education system.
Lean helps you figure out where the waste is, Six Sigma helps you analyze and collect data to see if your new process is any better. It’s really all about continuous improvement. And ultimately, this method of thinking is all about the customer, or in our case, the students!
Dr. Pulat even was kind enough to come talk to our office about what Six Sigma is and how it can benefit us. So my next step is to complete my Green Belt Certification. Wish me luck! Hi-Yaw! (I had to do it)