**Six Sigma** is a business management strategy and it enjoys widespread application in many sectors of industry.

The term **Six Sigma** originated from terminology associated with manufacturing, specifically terms associated with statistical modeling of manufacturing processes. The maturity of a manufacturing process can be described by a sigma rating indicating its yield, or the percentage of defect-free products it creates. A six-sigma process is one in which 99.99966% of the products manufactured are free of defects, compared to a one-sigma process in which only 31% are free of defects.

**Six Sigma** seeks to improve the quality of process outputs by identifying and removing the causes of defects and minimizing variability in manufacturing and business processes. It uses a set of quality management methods, including statistical methods, and creates a special infrastructure of people within the organization ("Black Belts", "Green Belts", etc.) who are experts in these methods. Each **Six Sigma** project carried out within an organization follows a defined sequence of steps and has quantified targets. These targets can be financial (cost reduction or profit increase) or whatever is critical to the customer of that process.

The Greek letter σ (sigma) marks the distance on the horizontal axis between the mean, μ, and the curve's inflection point. The greater this distance, the greater is the spread of values encountered. For the curve shown above, μ = 0 and σ = 1. The upper and lower specification limits (USL, LSL) are at a distance of 6σ from the mean. Because of the properties of the normal distribution, values lying that far away from the mean are extremely unlikely. Even if the mean were to move right or left by 1.5σ at some point in the future (1.5 sigma shift), there is still a good safety cushion. This is why **Six Sigma** aims to have processes where the mean is at least 6σ away from the nearest specification limit.

The term "**six sigma** process" comes from the notion that if one has six standard deviations between the process mean and the nearest specification limit, practically no items will fail to meet specifications. This is based on the calculation method employed in process capability studies.

Capability studies measure the number of standard deviations between the process mean and the nearest specification limit in sigma units. As process standard deviation goes up, or the mean of the process moves away from the center of the tolerance, fewer standard deviations will fit between the mean and the nearest specification limit, decreasing the sigma number and increasing the likelihood of items outside specification.