Achieving a Six Sigma Life

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What does the opportunity look like?

The Great Discovery is a proven way that virtually any work team or person can greatly increase their odds of achieving mission success, no matter what the mission may be.  Consider a work team.  Many times a work team is assigned the task to create some type or form of significant improvement, yet they are not quite sure where to begin or how to proceed.

The same goes for your personal life as well.  We set our eye on some type of goal, aspiration or dream and then start pondering the ways and means to achieve victory.  In virtually all such cases, the team (or person) looks to others who have attempted such an improvement and then mimics their thinking and actions.

Needless to say, such a strategy seldom produces the desired outcome, or if it does, the final costs in terms of money and time usually far exceed what was initially anticipated.  The Great Discovery bypasses all such limitations and drives straight to mission success – in a highly reliable and repeatable way.  This is because The Great Discovery was born from the DNA of Six Sigma – a tried and proven system of breakthrough with over 30 years of demonstrated success.

What does the solution look like? 

In this way, work teams and individuals don’t have to go through a long stream of trial-and-error.  No longer do they have to work under ambiguous circumstances or experience performance stress.  Simply stated, The Great Discovery provides a time-tested, step-by-step method to move from the initial starting point to the finish line.

Naturally, this discussion brings to mind what Albert Einstein said: “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”  Of course, many of us have heard this quotation a hundred times before; however, the key is not its truthfulness, but rather in knowing what to do different that will break the chain of insanity.

As with so many other things in life, knowledge is the key.  We fully understand that to get the right thing, you must do the right thing and to do the right thing means you must know the rights things to do.  Herein lies the power of The Great Discovery.  Clearly, it is a break from the conventions of mediocre performance — it represents the Six Sigma Way of Thinking.

What is Six Sigma?
  • Six Sigma is a business management system that consists of a roadmap and set of tools that, when properly applied, will create breakthrough in business performance and lead to world-class status.
  • The first generation of Six Sigma was originated at Motorola in the 80’s and was focused on defect reduction.
  • Then, in the 90’s, General Electric ushered in the second generation of Six Sigma to drive costs down and profits up.
  • The third generation of Six Sigma was inaugurated by DuPont around 2000 and was used to increase their overall value proposition – to customers and shareholders alike.
  • Recently, Six Sigma was just recognized as one of the top ten management innovations in the last 150 years and is used by 82 of the Fortune 100 companies
  • Hence, it’s fair to say that the Six Sigma Way of Thinking has withstood the test of time and proven its ability to create breakthrough.
  • And now, the fourth generation of Six Sigma is centered on personal achievement – how you can achieve extraordinary things in your life – just like many of the world’s top corporations has done over the past two decades.
What is the deeper understanding of Six Sigma?
  • As a metric, Six Sigma is a level of process capability that is twice as good as required.
  • As a goal, Six Sigma is a standard of quality that represents virtually defect free results.
  • As a method, Six Sigma is a systematic way to create breakthrough levels of improvement in virtually anything.
  • As a value, Six Sigma is a belief in questing for breakthrough versus incremental change.
  • As a tool, Six Sigma is a management system that can make dramatic improvements in the time and cost that is required to achieve high quality results.
  • As a symbol, Six Sigma is an icon for being the best of the best.
  • As a philosophy, Six Sigma is the system of beliefs, concepts, and attitudes that supports the pursuit of virtual perfection.
What is a sigma and why six of them?
  • Sigma is a measure of the goodness in something and six is topnotch,  Thus, it can be said that Six Sigma is world-class performance. Six Sigma is the current level of airline safety.
  • Four Sigma is about average, which is equivalent to the quality of airline baggage handling – the extent to which your bags get lost.  As you might have guessed, the difference between Six Sigma and Four Sigma is huge.  To better internalize this difference, consider that the next time you get on an airplane, your body is about 12,000 times more likely to get there than your bags!  That’s what it means to be average versus world-class.
  • Two Sigma performance is when you should strongly consider packing your bags and getting out of that business.
  • Obviously, to achieve a Six Sigma level of performance means that you can’t keep doing what you did; otherwise, you’ll just keep getting what you got.  In other words, a Four Sigma system can’t produce a Six Sigma result – square peg, round hole.
  • If you want Six Sigma results, you must change the system, not simply tweak the existing one and, to do this, you must first change your way of thinking.  Simply stated, every breakthrough in life first begins as a thought.  Change the thinking and you change the result.
  • Start thinking in terms of Six Sigma and you’ll start achieving better, more satisfying results.
What does it mean to have a Six Sigma life?
  • A Six Sigma life is to have freedom of choice among many world-class possibilities.  This means that when you apply Six Sigma to your life, you must consider two key dimensions; namely, quality and quantity.
  • First, you must have Quality of Choice.  This means that you must be able to pursue your values without undue constraints, like having to deal with unnecessary roadblocks and detours along the way to your dream.
  • Second, you must have Quantity of Choice.  This means that you must have the ability to choose among many world-class possibilities, not just a few vanilla options that are generally devoid of fruit.  Simply stated, a Six Sigma life is all about living large and good – at the same time!
From a Six Sigma point of view, what would a life dream look like?
  • First of all, let’s recognize that a Six Sigma life (per say) is one of having the capability to live out your core values – that is, experiencing the things that are most important to you.
  • In order to energize these values and bring them to life, you need a catalyst, which is much like a power generator.
What kind of power source could energize a person’s life?
  • Consider empowering your values.  Just like powering your flash light, your body or your life – you need a power source.
  • You must be able to live out your values if they are truly important to you. In other words, you need to create the power that can deliver you freedom of choice.
  • Once you have freedom of choice in your life, you have the power to select which values you want to live out.  So, freedom of choice is the goal and the realization of your values is the prize.
What would be an example of a catalyst dream?
  • Consider how a higher education can serve as a catalyst for your life.  It is well  known that a good education can reduce the constraints on a person’s way of living.
  • Through education, you can increase your freedom of choice and gain more power in the determination of your rewards and recognition, have greater influence in your social life, and increase your ability to select among many other benefits.  In this sense, your new found freedom of choice can trigger a chain reaction of life events that will lead you to the realization of what you value most.
  • So, once you have identified and fully envisioned your core values, you must then innovate your catalyst dream – and not the other way around.  Remember, if you don’t design your own destiny, someone (or something) else will.
  • Just like creating light – if you want to walk around in your house at night, you need a source of light.  This means that you must provide power to light bulbs in each room of your house.  To do this, you need a power source.  Without power, the best light bulbs in the world are useless.
What is the path to a Six Sigma life? 
  • In order to apply Six Sigma in your personal, home and work life, you must follow the Proven Path.
  • Essentially, the Proven Path is a progressive four stage system of innovation and execution that is designed to create breakthrough in your life.  Each stage has a specific, yet interrelated set of goals.
  • As you progressively execute each of the breakthrough stages, you will naturally develop greater momentum toward the realization of your catalyst dream which, in turn, will allow you to manifest and live out your core values.
How can a person get on the path to breakthrough?
  • To get on the road to breakthrough, you must complete the first stage of the Proven Path, which is called Do the Dreaming.    This means that you must identify and fully define your core values, after which you must link those values to a catalyst dream (in a cause and effect way).  Remember, the catalyst dream is what will empower your key life values.
  • The second stage is concerned with identifying, prioritizing and sequencing the milestones that will lead you to your catalyst dream.  This means that you must Dream the Doing.
  • In order to successfully realize the innovative intents of these two stages, you must rely on the Strong Spirit that is within you – which is the first principle of success.
How can a person build momentum on the path to breakthrough? 
  • Once your milestones are in place, you must then execute the third stage of breakthrough, which is called Plan the Doing.  This means that you must identify and prioritize the key forces that will help you knock down barriers and achieve your milestones.
  • To facilitate this objective, you must engage the Smart System so as to harness the forces – the second principle of success.
  • Once the vital forces have been sufficiently planned and translated into a set of actions, you must then execute the fourth stage of breakthrough, which is called Do the Plan.  Naturally, this means that you must execute the actions that will enable the smart system and critical forces.
  • To assure these aims are met, you must employ the Simple Strategy – the third principle of success.
  • Thus, we call upon the process of innovation to help us better envision the journey and then practice the skills of execution to successfully make the journey.
  • This is the proven path to a six sigma life and clearly illustrates how ordinary people (like you and I) can reach out and achieve the extraordinary.
  • Such is the Six Sigma Way of Thinking.
What role does your spirit play when following the Proven Path?
  • A strong spirit can significantly increase a person’s odds of success.  In other words, it takes a strong spirit to stay focused on achieving breakthrough results.
  • Your spirit is what will keep you determined and centered on the journey.  It takes a strong, determined spirit to flush out your core values and define a catalyst dream that can empower those values.
  • This means that you must not only focus your mind’s eye, you must also focus your feelings.
  • Of course, your focus is initially on the dream, but you must soon shift to the way you are going play the game, so to speak.  In other words, through a strong spirit, you can innovate and execute almost anything you set your mind to.
  • Furthermore, it takes a strong spirit to set high expectations.  When you raise the bar of your expectations, you indirectly force yourself to reexamine the way you get things done, not simply tweak your existing system.
  • Thus, by raising the bar of expectation, you become self-challenged to find new and better ways to assure success.
  • Your spirit will not only help you get on the Proven Path, it will help you stay there until your dream is realized
Can the human spirit be used to leverage a person’s dreams? 
  • Through a strong spirit, you’re always striving to discover linkages between your dreams and the needs of others.  In this way, others will want to contribute to the realization of your dreams in order to satisfy one or more of their own driving needs.  Of course, when this happens, you’re working smarter, not harder.
  • It also requires a strong spirit to fully visualize the path to your dream and envision the details of that journey.  In this way, you enhance the quality of your dream while concurrently increasing your odds of success.
  • By putting your dream on paper and sharing the details with others, you naturally become more committed to the dream, as well as the journey.
How can the power of a person’s spirit be increased?
  • A strong spirit is the breeding ground for developing a strong sense of humility.  Owing to the power of humility, you will be better equipped to seek the advice and counsel of others – picking up on their lessons learned and listening to their constructive, yet sometimes painful feedback.  For example, consider Olympic athletes.  Do you think they get to the Olympics without a coach?  So why would you ever consider pursuing a big dream without a coach?
  • Well, it takes humility to shoulder dissident information and advice, especially when it comes to benefiting from such counsel.  As we all know, change can be quite disruptive, particularly when some pain is on the line.  Hence, humility is a prerequisite for effectively suppressing your urge to resist change.  Only through humility is it possible to see the need for adopting new ways of thinking.
What should the spirit be focused on when planning for breakthrough? 
  • In the spirit of proper planning, you must exercise a high level of self-discipline in order to set and fully realize the critical milestones along the path to your dream.
  • Naturally, the strengthening of self-discipline requires a strong spirit.  Since each milestone represents a critical constraint on your catalyst dream, a strong spirit is required to sustain your focus.
  • Of course, you should always focus your thinking using  the 80/20 rule as a guide.
  • This general rule states that 80% of your milestones will be relatively easy while 20% will likely prove difficult; thereby, requiring the Six Sigma Way of Thinking.
  • Consequently, it is the Vital Few milestones that will demand the strength of a strong spirit.
  • While some milestones may seem daunting, your strong spirit will keep your focus sharp and help you divide and conquer; thereby, knocking down the barriers that stand in your way.
What is a System and what role does it play on the Proven Path?
  • A Smart System can launch you to the realization of your catalyst dream.  Through such a system you empower your intentions and better leverage your efforts.
  • A system is a designed way to fit the pieces together and get things done in an easier, more effective and efficient manner.
  • Through a system, you are able to purposefully, consistently and assuredly organize and accomplish things.
  • Without a system, you could find yourself lost amidst the myriad of on-going daily concerns.  In turn, such concerns can easily mask where you need to go in life.
  • Far to often our concerns for meeting short-term survival needs often dooms our true inner desires to the back burner.
  • Thus, many people wind up muddling their way through life simply hoping for the best, only achieving an ordinary existence.
  • An ordinary life may be fully acceptable for some, but for those wanting more out of life, a proven, time-tested, systematic way of thinking is worth its weight in gold – in the short-term and long-term.
Why is having a system so important to achieving success?
  • While intuition is great, a proven system has the better odds of success.  After all, casinos use a system.  Unfortunately, most players rely on their intuition; consequently, the house plays with favorable odds.  Even worse, some people resort to lucky charms and astrological charts – need more be said?  If such devices worked, Vegas would have busted years ago!  Simply stated, a good system can really help you get things organized, optimized and accomplished in a logical, progressive and verifiable way.
  • A good system will help you build and sustain momentum.  In this sense, the use of a system makes you proactive, not reactive – like making ad-hoc decisions and then taking impetuous action on those decisions.
What makes a system “smart”?
  • Essentially, a Smart System is a simple, manageable, actionable, repeatable and teachable way of systematically getting things done.
  • When a system is simple, there are fewer things that can, and likely will, go wrong.
  • When a system is mananageable, there is a well thought out plan of action that has clear lines of accountability.  When a system is actionable, proven tactics and execution practices can be employed to better assure steady progress.
  • When a system is repeatable, the underlying process can replicate success in an effective and efficient way.
  • When a system is teachable, it can be leveraged by others; thereby, ensuring its continuance and maintenance.
  • Thus, a Smart System allows you to work smarter, not harder.
What is at the heart of a Smart System?
  • The real power behind a Smart System is the infallible logic of deterministic reasoning, which advocates that every effect has a cause.  For example, your achievements in life are a function of the things you do in life – plain and simple.
  • Consider living out your core values.  This ability is a function of realizing your catalyst dream which, in turn, is a function of achieving your milestones through the improvement of forces.  Just like a nail – it won’t get driven until you hit it on the head.  All the meditation in the world won’t attach two pieces of wood.  You must take action in a cause and effect sort of way if you want to manifest something.
  • For example, consider your self-esteem.  This inner state of being is a function of things like your weight and how much support you get from your friends and family, as well as other key forces.  Thus, to improve your current condition, you must identify, prioritize and enable the vital few forces that govern your self-worth.
  • When your system is built upon the foundation of deterministic reasoning, the system can then be described as a series of inputs that are subsequently processed or otherwise conditioned to produce a desired output, after which that output must be evaluated for conformance to expectations and then modified if necessary.
  • Through the Law of Determinism, you will only get out what you put in – garbage in, garbage out – nothing in, nothing out.
So what is the pattern of thinking behind a Smart System?
  • Another principle that is closely tied to the Six Sigma way of reasoning is the idea that “you bring about what you think about,” often referred to as the Law of Attraction.
  • When you continually think about the forces that supports your movement to a milestone, you greatly increase your odds of manifesting those forces – either consciously, subconsciously or both.
  • There is a fair amount of science behind this assertion.  Through the reticular activating system of the human brain, we subconsciously predispose our thinking and recognition of things.  For example, when you’re thinking about buying a sports car, you suddenly start noticing all of the sports cars on the road.  By the same token, as you think about the forces needed to achieve a particular milestone, you start discovering ways to engage those forces.
  • We tend to bring about what we think about.  However, when you are not thinking about the right things, it is most doubtful that they will ever be brought into play, unless by chance circumstance.
  • But, to simply focus the majority of your thoughts on the result (i.e., the symptom), you will likely produce little or nothing.
  • If you want to get two pieces of wood nailed together, chances are, the forces of your mind and hand will get the job done, not some set of mysterious set of mega forces invisibly drifting through the universe just waiting for your inner mind to harness their power in some kind of secret metaphysical way.
  • Focusing your Strong Spirit on the judicious execution of a Smart System is the proven, time-tested and verifiable way to accomplish things.
What is the Six Sigma way of thinking and why is it so powerful?
  • This means, you must do more than continually think about WHAT you want, you must obsessively think about HOW you will get it.  In other words, you must continually be thinking about the milestones, forces and tactical actions that will bring about your desired outcome.
  • For example, as you purposefully think about the driving and restraining forces in an ongoing manner, you become focused (consciously and unconsciously) on enabling the power of those forces which, in turn, will catapult you from milestone to milestone; thereby, delivering your catalyst dream.  And once that dream has been realized, you then have the freedom of choice to live out your core values.
  • Through this domino-like process, you can manifest virtually anything, and do so in SMART way.
  • Of course, you can increase your odds of success even more when you saturate your mind with the 80/20 way of thinking, which says that 80% of your success will be dependent on only 20% of the forces.
  • Therefore, you should always seek to improve the Vital Few and ignore the Trivial Many.  This means, you must systematically plan your engagement of the Vital Few forces and not waste any time or resources dealing with the Trivial Many. Such is the Six Sigma Way of Thinking.
What is the Simple Strategy and what role does it play?
  • Essentially, the Simple Strategy consists of four progressive steps that are designed to help you create and sustain positive momentum toward the achievement of a milestone: Think, Plan, Do and Check, or just TPDC for short.
  • The first step of the TPDC cycle is called Think System, which means you must think about what you’re trying to accomplish in a logical, organized, progressive and deterministic way.
  • The second step of the Simple Strategy, is called Plan Forces.  This means that you must: a) carefully and thoughtfully identify all of your potential forces; b) establish which of the potential forces are among the Vital Few; c) determine how to get the most out of each critical force; d) synergize your critical forces to get a “bigger bang” for the same effort; and e) determine how your critical forces can be brought online in an easy, effective and efficient manner.
  • The third step, is called Do Plan.  This means that you must engage the forces through your plan of action.  To accomplish this, you must first translate each of the Vital Few forces into a set of action items,
  • The fourth step is called Check Results.  This means that you must look at your past performance (and accomplishments) in a critical, yet constructive way.
  • You must also look out at where you’re going so as to ensure your train is still on the tracks, so to speak.
  • At the same time, you must strive to eliminate the Vital Few sources of noise in your life, like all the negative talk provided by naysayers.
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Dr. Mikel J. Harry Biography & Professional Vita

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Copyright 2013 Dr. Mikel J. Harry, Ltd.

About Mikel Harry

Dr. Harry has been widely recognized in many of today's notable publications as the Co-Creator of Six Sigma and the world's leading authority within this field. His book entitled Six Sigma: The Breakthrough Management Strategy Revolutionizing the World’s Top Corporations has been on the best seller list of the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Business Week, and He has been a consultant to many of the world’s top senior executives, such as Jack Welch, former CEO and Chairman of General Electric Corporation. Dr. Harry has also been a featured guest on popular television programs, such as the premier NBC show "Power Lunch." He is often quoted in newspapers like USA Today and interviewed by the media, such as The Economic Times. In addition, Dr. Harry has received many distinguished awards in recognition of his contributions to industry and society. At the present time, Dr. Harry is Chairman of the Six Sigma Management Institute and CEO of The Great Discovery, LLC.
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