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Monday, December 5, 2011

A communicator's primer on Six Sigma Understanding what it is and how—and when—to best promote it.

By Denise C. Baron | Posted: December 5, 2011

Every Saturday morning, I head to my local supermarket to restock on fruit and vegetables. Mind you, I go to this place not out of advocacy, but because, in the rural area where I live, it's the only one.
More often than not, I'll come across limp root vegetables, herbs well past their prime, citrus in the first bloom of decay, and a produce manager who looks as though he could not give two shiitakes.
On one occasion, I led him to the scene of the slime and pointed out bags of moldy onions. He informed me he'd sort through them, remove the rotting ones and reseal the bags. When I asked him if he felt those onions would be good enough to serve to his own family, I received a glare in response. This from a store chain that guarantees freshness.
Now, if that supermarket's management had subscribed to Six Sigma, my experiences there would be fundamentally different. I would find only prime stock, so I'd have no need to confront a grouchy green grocer. Six Sigma would have helped management identify the root causes of why suspect produce was on display.
Was the problem external, internal or a bit of both? Were deliveries coming in on time? What was the condition of the loads coming off the trucks? Was existing stock being rotated with the new? Or was stock simply not being put out quickly enough?
More important, Six Sigma would have offered solutions to guarantee that problems would not resurface. Because the strategy would eliminate the problems, the produce department would be operating more efficiently and effectively and reaping significant savings by reducing waste and offering only top-quality inventory and the most accommodating service.

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