Maintaining high-quality standards is a challenging yet essential goal to pursue for every company operating in the global economy realm. With the advance of the production technologies, the quality standards have been upgraded, as well; therefore, the need to incorporate an all-embracive approach for quality management emerged. At present, the choice between the theory of constraints (TOC) and the Six Sigma approach defines the route that entrepreneurship will take in pursuing its quality requirements. Although the two tools serve the same goal of improving imperfections in the company production lineup, the TOC approach can be viewed as rather limiting in terms of its techniques whereas the Six Sigma method allows more flexibility yet cannot work on a global level and should be applied to local systems.
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First and most obvious, the two approaches are structured in a strikingly different manner. The Six Sigma concept aligns with the so-called DMAIC framework (Husby, 2007). The given strategy is characterized by precise and very specific objectives, a clear and rather narrow area of analysis, and a focus on the root causes of a particular phenomenon. The TOC approach, in its turn, is focused on the identification of the key constraints that block the company’s way to success and quality improvement. Therefore, the TOC strategy implies a multi-level analysis of the emergent issues, promoting an unceasing evolution of the organization.
In addition, the use of the Reality Tree construction, which is the characteristic feature of TOC, is alien to the Six Sigma framework. Implying a top-down layout of the system components, the TOC framework helps view the company and its operations in the grand scheme of events. Therefore, it is reasonable to apply the TOC strategy when drastic changes have to be made to the organization.
In light of the fact that the Six Sigma approach and the TOC strategy serve at different levels and allow avoiding different risks in the context of the global economy environment, it will be reasonable to adopt a complex approach that will help an organization retain its competitiveness and promote sustainable use of resources at all levels of its operations. Indeed, a closer look at the subject matter will show that, while the TOC approach can be used at a higher level in defining the relationships with the global partners, the Six Sigma framework can be applied to local issues, such as the inconsistencies in the managerial processes, the logistics issues, etc. The TOC-based strategy, in its turn, will have to be used at the level of supply chains. As a result, the key processes will occur at the required pace, whereas the information flow will not be interrupted (Sismit, Gunay, & Vayvay, 2014).
While being seemingly similar in terms of their purpose and effects, the Six Sigma approach and the TOC tool address problems on different levels (local and global correspondingly), have a different paradigm (DMAIC and five-step process), and offer a different number of tools. Therefore, the choice of the tools that the company may need to improve its current performance and address the issues concerning product quality depend greatly on the properties of the entrepreneurship, such as its scale, current niche in the global economy, competitiveness rates, assets, etc. However, since both techniques complement each other as far as their flaws are concerned, using them as the components of a single quality management strategy seems to be the most reasonable choice to make.
Husby, P. (2007). Competition or complement: Six Sigma and TOC. Web.
Sismit, Z. T., Gunay, N. S., & Vayvay, O. (2014). Theory of constraints: A literature review. Procedia – Social and Behavioral Sciences, 150(1), 930-936.
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