# How do you measure up?

There is something that will get you into trouble if you don’t know about it, and which in my experience very few Black Belts or even Master Black Belts know about. It’s only in the mind of the person doing the research, and no software program will know about it. This mysterious property is “measurement level,” and that is what I want to talk about this month.

# Are you capable?

I spent my June and July articles beating up on the “sigma” index commonly associated with Six Sigma (and continue to do so over in my discussion board.) Let me sum up by saying that, while not wrong, “sigma” isn’t an efficient metric for accomplishing what we are trying to do in today’s business environment. Is there a better way to do that? I think that there is, and in this, my lucky 14th Heretic article, it is fitting that we continue to explore ways to measure the effect of Six Sigma.

# Shifty Sigma

Now that we have talked about defining Six Sigma and 10 stupid Six Sigma tricks, I’ll move on to the measure phase and discuss some things that work and don’t work in measuring the effect of Six Sigma.

The new metric that Six Sigma brought to us was the sigma index, so let’s start with it. Whenever I refer to this index, I will write out “sigma” and put scare quotes around it. This will get tiresome, but this is necessary to differentiate it from the statistical term for standard deviation. I’ll tell you up front that I’m not a big fan of the sigma index for a couple of reasons, which I promise I’ll get to.

But first, what is “sigma”?

This is a bit convoluted, I warn you.

# The Bad and the Ugly

Last month I talked about the “sigma” index and how it can be used. So what could be bad about the “sigma” index?

Never forget that metrics drive behavior and that people are very, very good at finding a way to succeed when given a goal. It just may not be the thing you wanted them to do.

# Neglecting daily management

The end is near! Well, at least the end of the Top Ten Stupid Six Sigma Tricks (SSST) countdown. The Heretic soldiers on until his appointment with the stake. This month, we arrive at Stupid Six Sigma Trick #2: Neglecting Daily Management. In this SSST, companies get so starry-eyed over the fancy statistics that can solve big problems that they forget to do the day-to-day basics, and find out to their detriment what Carroll’s Red Queen meant.

### Random Heresy

#### Destructive Gauges and Measurement System Analysis

We have recently covered a lot of ground on the topic of measurement system analysis (MSA). We talked about the basics of MSA, the potential study, the short-term study, and the long-term study. At this point you should have a pretty firm foundation in the

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### News Flash

Six Sigma's lead instructor Steven Ouellette wrote an article with Dr. Jeffrey Luftig on "The Decline of Ethical Behavior in Business."

Six Sigma Online's lead instructor Steven Ouellette was profiled in the June 2008 issue of Quality Digest magazine. If you want to learn more about Steve's peculiar view of the world, as well as what he studied for a year in Europe, read the profile online.