Our Favorite Book on Six Sigma!

There are lots of books about Six Sigma, but by far the one we recommend the most is Lean Six Sigma DeMYSTiFieD (ISBN: 978-0-07-175949-6).  If you’re new to Six Sigma, or getting ready to launch a new project, this book is a must have!

In the preface of the book the author, (Jay Arthur), states the following:  The essence of Lean Six Sigma is to build a better, faster, cheaper, more profitable process. Lean Six Sigma will help you:

  • Simplify. Use Lean to simplify the work area.
  • Streamline. Use spaghetti diagrams and value stream maps to streamline the work flow.
  • Optimize. Use Six Sigma to focus, improve, sustain, and honor your progress toward eliminating all defects and deviation.

That, in a nutshell, is what you need to know to get started with process improvement.  It’s all about building better processes.  We’re not necessarily talking about manufacturing processes either.  Lean has become an important part of healthcare, logistics, and even the federal & state government.

NOTE – Check out these state & federal agencies that use Six Sigma:

Lets dig into this book a little deeper and see why it’s so helpful for someone getting involved with Six Sigma.  Here are the top 3 reasons we really like the book Six Sigma Demystified:

Reason #1:  It’s comprehensive.  At over 430 pages of actual content, your really getting a lot of bang for your buck.  Unlike most Six Sigma books however, this one is easy to read and understand.  Yes, it can get complicated since statistics isn’t everyone's strongest subject.  This book however, does a great job of using Microsoft Excel for the complicated tasks.  For example, chapter 4 starts off with this statement: “Microsoft Excel is a tremendously powerful tool for Lean Six Sigma, but most people don’t even know how to use the basic capabilities of Excel. If you think you’re a hotshot Excel user, read on because we’ll look at how to use the QI Macros Lean Six Sigma SPC software for Excel. If you’re not that familiar with Excel and how to set up your data to make it easy to analyze, chart, and graph, then you will get a lot from this discussion. If you don’t own a copy of Excel or Office, you can usually pick up inexpensive copies of older versions on eBay. The QI Macros work in all versions of Excel.

The book then walks you through the process of using Excel and how to set up the forms properly.  This can save a Six Sigma Black Belt countless hours of trial and error.  It talks about how to prepare your data and tips for selecting your data, an essential part of getting accurate results.

At another point in the book (page 214), the author discusses Transactional Six Sigma by saying “Although most traditional improvement methods focus on manufacturing, the value in the marketplace has shifted away from manufacturing to transactions. Airline reservation systems are more valuable than the airlines themselves. To maximize the benefit of Transactional Six Sigma, you’ll want to find ways to use Six Sigma on your transaction processes and errors.  It’s nice to see this subject covered, most continuous improvement books do not discuss it. 


Reason #2:  It includes a great “Finale Exam”.  You’ve read through a Six Sigma book, but how much did you actually learn?  With this book, there is a way to test yourself.  The author includes a 130 question exam at the end that covers all the necessary items you should have learned.  It’s common to see a short quiz in books, but rare to see such a comprehensive examination.  The author clearly understands the value of a good practice test.  This test should really help prepare you for a six sigma certification exam like the Black Belt.  Here is an example of one of the questions:

The main hypothesis test(s) for nonnormal data is (are)

B. F-test.
C. Levene’s test.
D. t-test.
E. Tukey’s Quick Test.
F. A and D
G. C and E

Don’t worry; there is a complete answer sheet included after the test.

Reason #3:  It’s easy to read and comprehend:  This really should be reason 1, but we saved the best for last.  Unlike most Six Sigma books, which try to impress you with how technically complex they are, this book is easy to understand and comprehend.  Don’t get me wrong, this book goes deep into the technical aspects of Six Sigma and covers the heavy topics you’ll need to understand.  It does it in a way that someone new to Six Sigma can actually understand without getting overwhelmed.  Here’s a good example.  Look how the book discusses a Control Plan: “For those companies that need more rigor in process control, consider implementing a control plan (Fig. 8.18). A control plan is a structured method for identifying, implementing and monitoring process controls. A control plan describes what aspects of the process, from start to finish, will be kept in statistical process control, and it also describes the corrective actions needed to restore control.  It’s simple and to the point.  It doesn’t overwhelm the reader with information they don’t need.  It just gives a short overview, before diving into the technical aspects of controlling a project.


Chapter breakdown:

Chapter 1)  What Is Lean Six Sigma?

Chapter 2)  Lean Demystified

Chapter 3)  A Faster Hospital in Five Days

Chapter 4)  Excel Power Tools for Lean Six Sigma

Chapter 5)  Reducing Defects with Six Sigma

Chapter 6)  Transactional Six Sigma

Chapter 7)  Reducing Variation with Six Sigma

Chapter 8)  Sustaining Improvement

Chapter 9)  Laser-Focused Process Innovation

Chapter 10)  Making Lean Six Sigma Successful

Chapter 11)  Measurement Systems Analysis

Chapter 12)  Design for Lean Six Sigma

Chapter 13)  Statistical Tools for Lean Six Sigma

Chapter 14)  Implementing Lean Six Sigma

Created with