Continually Improving

Continually Improving

Would you be satisfied without telephone service for more than four hours a month? How about no electricity at home for an hour each week? Clearly not.

It's no different with our customers. They want better than 99% problem-free performance when they buy Honeywell products to use in their airplane engines, automobiles, computer chips, chemical end products, or other critical equipment. They also want fresh ideas that help them build their future. Our "Six Sigma" initiative delivers on that promise and takes Six Sigma to the next level.

Premier companies don't satisfy almost all their customer's expectations; they exceed all of their expectations. Business success is a moving target and we must get better and better each year at providing products and services.

At Honeywell, Six Sigma refers to our overall strategy to improve growth and productivity as well as a measurement of quality.

As a strategy, Six Sigma is a way for us to achieve performance breakthroughs. And it encompasses tools from all of our improvement initiatives, including those in Operational, Technical and Customer Excellence. It applies to every function in our company, not just those on the factory floor. That means Marketing, Finance, Product Development, Business Services, Engineering, and all the other functions in our businesses are included. It also incorporates the rigorous assessment process used in determining Malcolm Baldrige Award winners.

Six Sigma is a measurement of total quality to know how effective we are in eliminating defects and variation from our processes. The processes at a Six Sigma company operate at only 3.4 defects per million opportunities – or 99.9997% error-free. Most companies operate at about the Three Sigma level, which is 66,810 defects per million or 93% error-free. Honeywell is already approaching Four Sigma and many individual processes and businesses are well beyond that mark. However, we believe that settling for this level of performance is like shooting for the moon when you can reach distant stars. Our goal is Six Sigma.

We selected this standard because it is widely understood in the business world as a quest for process perfection. Our Total Quality journey began in the early '90s, and some of our businesses have been using Six Sigma "language" since 1995. Although the businesses that make up Honeywell today are very different, we now have a single, common way to describe our work toward becoming premier - by applying Six Sigma to all of our work processes.

Just making the jump from Four Sigma to Five Sigma requires a 27-fold performance improvement. The move from Five Sigma to Six Sigma requires approximately another 60-fold improvement.

Dramatic Improvements

Consider what it means to achieve this ultimate level of performance:

If your water heater operated at Four Sigma, you would be without hot water more than 54 hours each year. At Six Sigma, you'd be without hot water for less than two minutes a year.

With a Four Sigma packaging process, approximately six out of every 1,000 packages will be outside of specifications. At Six Sigma, only three packages in every million will miss specifications.

If your electricity operated at Four Sigma performance, your lights would be out an hour a week. At Six Sigma, you would be without lights about two seconds a week.

With a Four Sigma design process, six out of every 1,000 design elements relating to a new product are flawed before the product is fully commercialized, versus a Six Sigma process, where only about three of every one million design elements are flawed.

If your telephone operated at Four Sigma, you would be without service for more than four hours a month. At Six Sigma, it would be about nine seconds a month.

At Four Sigma, about six out of every 1,000 invoices will contain incorrect information. At Six Sigma, mistakes will occur only about three times in every 1,000,000 invoices.

If your car operated at Four Sigma performance, you would spend 37 minutes in the repair shop for every 100 hours you operate the vehicle. At Six Sigma, you would have only 1.2 seconds of repair for every 100 hours of operation.

A Four Sigma process will typically result in one defective package of product for every three truckloads we ship. A Six Sigma process means one defective package for every 5,350 truckloads.

As you can see, the payoff is huge. That's why Honeywell uses every resource available to improve, and focuses on the building blocks of productivity and growth.


Do it right the first time; eliminate non value-added steps, becoming lean; reduce process variations, and exceed customers' application and performance expectations.


Special tools, such as Activity-Based Management (ABM), to go beyond the typical understanding of cost to achieve the product cost necessary to meet customers' price expectations.


Simplified, or "lean," processes to improve workflow throughout every function of the supply chain and meet customers' delivery expectations.

Customer Satisfaction

Tools to focus on understanding customers' needs, then delighting customers by meeting, and even exceeding, their expectations.
We're creating a culture of self-improvement throughout the organization as learning continues to provide all employees with a new way of thinking and sophisticated new tools. Here are some we use most frequently:

Brainstorming, which encourages open thinking and allows team members to build on each other's ideas;

Flow Charts and Process Maps, allowing a team to: identify the order of events in providing a product or service, uncover problems, and compare the "ideal" work flow to what actually happens in the workplace;.

Pareto Charts, which identify the critical few issues that impact cost and/or customer satisfaction;

Root Cause Analysis, a method to help determine the true cause of problems; and

Control Charts, a method to observe and improve process performance.

We have great people working on great teams, generating world-class results. Our teams typically have members from every level of the organization focused on improving processes to satisfy customers. Many improvements are "bottom-up" suggestions; solutions do not always result from a "top-down" approach.

Customers are recognizing the value we create for them and rewarding us with larger orders. By delighting our customers, building value for shareowners and enhancing employees' work experiences we'll achieve our aggressive growth goals.