7.2. Six Sigma Ownership
The International Organization for Standardization publishes, revises, and governs ISO 9001:2000. The Software Engineering Institute publishes, revises, and governs CMMI. Six Sigma is different. Folks at Motorola created it. Honeywell added to it. GE refined it. Ford put its spin on it. But no one owns it. It is like an open source standard, shareware in the world of process improvement. In a way, that's understandable. No one owns algebra or differential calculus or regression analysis. On the other hand, Six Sigma is supported by a well-published methodology: DMAIC.
The folks at Motorola and GE (notably former GE CEO Jack Welch) publicly promoted Six Sigma and encouraged its adoption without putting any ownership or copyright constraints on it. There's no doubt those were beneficent gestures. Those two companies invested millions in developing the methods, protocols, and structures associated with Six Sigma. When they set Six Sigma and all its parts free, they gave a gift to the worlds of manufacturing, IT, and process control. But when they relinquished control, they also left Six Sigma to itself. Or rather to us, to do with it what we saw best.
That leads to what might be called Six Sigma's chief weak point. There is no central governing body for the program. Many organizations have picked up the mantel, but there is no consensus as to what the agenda is for promoting or growing the body of knowledge. Respectable institutions like Villanova University, the American Society for Quality, and an organization called iSix Sigma have each established training and guidance programs. GE has a well-maintained Six Sigma web site. But all these groups are working in their own directionsnot necessarily in conflict. There is just no unifying center for Six Sigma coordination, standardization, and development.
For some people, that is not a constraint. It's a good thing. For others, the lack of centralization could be an issue. But for Six Sigma, right now at least, that's the way it is.