Last week I made two mistakes. First, I asked my boss what the offsite training he attended was. Second, I asked “What is Six Sigma?” which prompted him to point to a stack of books. Being a smart person, I picked the slimmest one possible.

What Is Six Sigma by Pete Pande and Larry Holpp

From the perspective of a software engineer most of the Six Sigma process is common sense. The emphasis on ‘DMAIC’ (Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, and Control) to categorize problem solving aligns with common software development processes. What I found most interesting were the examples of how Six Sigma can be applied to wide range of problems. As long a problem can be defined in a quantifiable manner, a team can begin listing potential causes and testing solutions.

I have prior experience participating in a similar ideology (PPI – Practical Process Improvement) and there appears to be buy in from many major companies, including my current company and our direct competitors, as they seek to improve quality and reduce cost. I haven’t been to ‘official’ training, but at least I know what to expect if I do get selected.