Andrew Allentuck

Friday, May 25, 2001

The Six Sigma Revolution: How General Electric and Others Turned Process into Profits
by George Eckes
John Wiley & Sons, 274 pages

The Six Sigma Revolution presents the nuts and bolts of the management methods that turned General Electric from a pariah in the early 1960s, reeling from the conviction of many of its senior executives in a price fixing scandal, into the gleaming leader of world business at the beginning of the 21st century.

The man who led GE out of the wilderness, Jack Welch, an engineer and scholar, imposed a quantitative methodology on the company's manufacturing operations. Six Sigma, which denotes defect rates, has transformed the company into a leader in selected businesses, helped it to shed those in which it does not compete well, and raised profitability.

A management consultant who uses the six sigma methodology in his own work, George Eckes explores the math and the methods of transferring the system to other kinds of work. The Six Sigma Revolution is not the first exploration of six sigma in a corporate history, but for investors able to handle a modest level of analysis of normal bell curves and standard deviations, it is a provocative way of analyzing what public companies, especially manufacturers, do with their capital.