What is quality? This is an interesting question. Depending on your product, your service or your business, it can mean any number of things. But, at the end of the day, it all boils down to how well we serve the needs of our customers. Crosby described quality as, "the conformance to requirements realized through prevention and reduction of defects and nonconformances. " In essence, do it right the first time. There are many paths to sound and robust quality. Two of the most comprehensive and prevalent in the industry are Lean and Six Sigma. Six Sigma is both a quality management philosophy and a methodology that focuses on reducing variation, measuring defects, and improving the quality of products, processes and services. The purpose of Lean is, to maximize customer value while minimizing waste. So, you can see how Lean and Six Sigma were meant to complement each other. The evolution of Six Sigma began with statistical process control within the quality organization. This developed into business process re-engineering, and later into process improvement philosophy known as Total Quality Management. TQM grew into the methodology we know as Six Sigma. Lean traces its origins to the organization's desire to improve productivity. One of the first examples of this, the forward production system, was used to assemble cars. This was used as the basis for the Toyota production system. Just In Time production philosophies combined with the Toyota production system ultimately evolved into Lean. Now, Lean and Six Sigma are emerging to get the most of both improvement philosophies. Using Lean and Six Sigma tools, empowers us to eliminate waste and excess cost, reduce variation and defects and improve our processes and customer experience in our business. The Six Sigma methodology is grounded in a process known as DMAIC. DMAIC stands for Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve and Control. The premise behind DMAIC requires a change in our thinking. Instead of being problem driven, we need to be customer driven. Instead of reacting to issues and dissatisfaction, we should search for ways to prevent issues and dissatisfaction. The existence of waste and rework are viewed as opportunities for improvement, prevention, and reduction. The idea of Six Sigma is not new, and can be taken from statistical principles. In the past, organizations aimed for 99 percent defect free. Without realizing that this is the same as at least 200,000 wrong drug prescriptions each year, too short or long landings at major airports each day, 5,000 incorrect surgical procedures every week, 20,000 lost articles of mail per hour, unsafe drinking water for almost 15 minutes each day, and no electricity for almost seven hours every month. This is 66,810 defects for every one million opportunities. From a cost and waste perspective, this is astonishing. Six Sigma aims us toward a goal of 99.99966 Percent defect free. This is 3.4 defects for every one million opportunities. This can seem staggering and perhaps even difficult to reach and even sustain. But, the journey to this goal, reaps its own substantial rewards. Once reaching Six Sigma, we can realize: 68 wrong drug prescriptions each year. One short or long landing at a major airport each five years, 1.7 incorrect surgical procedures every week, seven lost articles of mail per hour, one unsafe minute of drinking water every seven months. And, no electricity for almost seven hours every five years. Imagine, the vast gains we can fulfill in defect reduction, waste reduction and customer service, as we journey toward a Six Sigma level of quality excellence.