Contemporary management theories attempt to develop a universal quality assessment system that comprehensively evaluates business processes and provides specific guidelines to minimize the occurred defects. However, currently, the one working methodology allowing to satisfy all the aforementioned criteria does not exist. Instead of generalizing the three most common programs, this assignment will provide a brief overview of Six Sigma, ISO 9000, and MBNQA, analyzing each of the methods’ goals, advantages, disadvantages, and implications separately.
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Introduced by Motorola, Six Sigma is a methodology that aims at identifying and solving the root reasons for specific quality issues in management. According to
Vendrame Takao, Woldt, and da Silva (2017), this statistics-based approach is designed to strengthen the organizational capacity for improvement by decreasing the defect rate to approximately 3.4 instances per million. Customer-focused, Six Sigma puts much emphasis on the client’s requirements. As further explained by Vendrame Takao et al. (2017), the method is based on DMAIC, which stands for the five key concepts addressed, meaning define, measure, analyze, improve, and control.
Consequently, the main advantages of the approach correspond to the aforementioned terms. First, according to Vendrame Takao et al. (2017), Six Sigma allows businesses to use an extensive number of measurements in the production process with the purpose of identifying the causes of variations. Second, the methodology stresses customer satisfaction as one of its primary goals, engaging in proactive management and striving for perfection (Vendrame Takao et al., 2017). Finally, Six Sigma encourages active collaboration inside the organization, which sets high targets for all the employees, not top management only.
Despite all the benefits of the approach, unlike ISO 9000, Six Sigma does not provide a general framework for assessing the organization’s overall management input. For this reason, most of the experts in the field do not label Six Sigma as a quality management system, rather identifying it as a strategy for business growth. Consequently, this methodology should be used in case of inspection for defects, wherein the organization’s focus is on the prevention of the defects, not the evaluation of their nature, origin, and frequency of occurrence.
On the contrary to Six Sigma, ISO 9000 is a Quality Management system standard. As written by Castka and Corbett (2015), this method consists of a series of precisely defined organizational structures which contribute to the organization’s adherence to minimum quality standards. Unlike Six Sigma, ISO 9000 is designed to assess the business’ overall management efforts while assuring the acceptable level of service (Castka & Corbett, 2015). Another difference between the two approaches is that ISO 9000 may be used as a training mechanism allowing to record and later analyze the knowledge of the company’s business processes. The aforementioned distinction simultaneously serves as one of the strengths of the method, underlining its high practicality.
Even though ISO 9000’s is able to provide guidelines for decision making, which sufficiently improves managers’ problem-solving skills, it requires a continual working process without describing the precise methodology of such. As noted by Castka and Corbett (2015), this drawback can be resolved if a management professional decides to combine the method with Six Sigma. While ISO 9000 outlines specific quality objectives, Six Sigma summarizes ways to implement them in real-life cases. Subsequently, it is important to understand that the two approaches are designed to complement, not contradict, each other; thus, they can be utilized simultaneously.
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Malcolm Bridge National Quality Award (MBNQA)
Malcolm Bridge National Quality Award (MBNQA) is a national program that aims at incorporating quality management principles in a broad manner. To meet its criteria, the organization needs to excel in the following criteria: information and analysis, process management, leadership, strategic planning, market, and workforce focus (Aydin & Kahraman, 2019). The requirements of MBNQA are so demanding that they oftentimes transform the culture of the business, encouraging managers to act in a way that maximizes the performance of the organization while adhering to high ethical standards.
The main advantage of the method is an emphasis on performance excellence for the entire business through a prism of a thoroughly organized management framework. As supported by Aydin and Kahraman (2019), MBNQA allows to identify and record organizational results in all spheres, including but not limited to customer satisfaction, HR, and product/service quality. In comparison to ISO 9000 and Six Sigma, the method poses the broadest and sometimes vague challenges for the managers. Therefore, some experts in the field criticize it for the lack of specific guidelines in terms of requirements or recommendations for the businesses. Yet, similarly to ISO 9000 and Six Sigma, the best implication of MBNQA lies in the systematic combination of the three approaches to meet the widest array of objectives.
This paper briefly assessed individual goals, benefits, and drawbacks of Six Sigma, ISO 9000, and MBNQA as strategic ways to improve business processes. While Six Sigma primarily aims at minimizing the rate of defects, ISO 9000 provides organized guidelines for meeting minimum quality standards in the organization. MBNQA, in return, focuses on the general framework of quality management principles. Despite the distinctive objectives, all three approaches are compatible, meaning that the best results are achievable through their combination.
Aydin, S., & Kahraman, C. (2019). Evaluation of firms applying to Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award: A modified fuzzy AHP method. Complex & Intelligent Systems, 5(53), 53-63. Web.
Castka, P, & Corbett, C. J. (2015). Management systems standards: Diffusion, impact, and governance of ISO 9000, ISO 14000, and other management standards. Foundations and Trends in Technology, Information and Operations Management, 7(3), 161-379. Web.
Vendrame Takao, M. R., Woldt, J., & da Silva, I. B. (2017). Six Sigma methodology advantages for small- and medium-sized enterprises: A case study in the plumbing industry in the United States. Advances in Mechanical Engineering, 9(10), 1-10. Web.