Education is part of that discovery and advancement process, and Six Sigma is a big part of DuPont’s education offerings. With that in mind, DuPont retained Six Sigma Academy in October 1998 to achieve sustainable growth, increase productivity and improve quality.
DuPont Chairman and CEO Charles O. (Chad) Holliday Jr. created the vision for the company of sustainable growth and increased shareholder value. The vision focused on three objectives: emphasizing integrated science, leveraging knowledge of offerings and focusing on productivity.
To meet this third objective, Holliday spoke with executives at General Electric and Allied Signal (now Honeywell) about their successes and was directed to Six Sigma Academy. Within a year, Holliday announced that DuPont was beginning its Six Sigma journey with Don Linsenmann at the helm as vice president and Six Sigma corporate champion.
“Six Sigma, in its simplest terms, is defined as ‘a methodology that solves a difficult business problem for the very last time,’ ” said Marcia Lemmons, vice president of marketing communications for Six Sigma Academy. “Centered on a powerful problem-solving and process-optimization methodology, Six Sigma is credited with saving many billions of dollars for companies over the past 10 years. It takes real commitment for a company to reach the Six Sigma goal. However, once achieved, it will transform quality, efficiency, customer satisfaction—and the bottom line.”
Working with Six Sigma Academy, DuPont started its Six Sigma program with several goals in mind:
- Achieve sustainable growth through productivity and quality improvements.
- Significantly increase productivity using Six Sigma.
- Increase shareholder and societal value.
- Pursue “knowledge intensity” in all businesses.
To ensure success, DuPont employed various strategies to link Six Sigma to workforce development. DuPont considered Six Sigma as an enterprise-wide business strategy, not merely a toolkit for improvement. DuPont’s approach was more company-wide than segment-wide, with Six Sigma rolled out to all strategic business units, including Agriculture, Petrochemicals, Pharmaceuticals—all involved from the start.
Six Sigma also was integrated into all DuPont operations, including distribution, sales, marketing, human resources, finance, legal and manufacturing. Altogether, one of every five DuPont employees participate in Six Sigma projects.
That investment has clearly paid off, with DuPoint realizing several benefits:
- More than $1.6 billion in cost savings have been realized in a four-year period.
- Many of the 3,000 completed or current Six Sigma projects have resulted in reduced environmental impact or increased safety.
- More than 10,000 Master Black Belts, Black Belts and Green Belts have been trained around the world.
- More than 500 financial analysts and managers have been trained in the specifics of Six Sigma financial metrics and reporting.
- Over 12,000 projects are underway around the world in all regions and lines of business.
- Top Line Growth (TLG) Champions were named in 2001, and by mid-year 2002 more than 1,000 TLG projects were active in the businesses.
“We’ve seen money, we’ve seen benefits, we’ve seen reduction in fixed costs, we’ve seen reduction in variable costs, and we’ve seen top-line growth,” Linsenmann said. “Where I get excited is when I travel around the world and talk to Black Belts. You can see the sparkle in their eye, you can see they’re excited, you can see they’re juiced, and they’re making a difference at DuPont. The vehicle that led them to that is Six Sigma.”