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Is It Greek To You?

With just 3.4 defects per million units, the Six Sigma strategy may seem somewhat foreign. Welcome to the quality-assurance system the big boys use.

This story appears in the July 1999 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Simon Dolan first heard of Six Sigma in a 1994 book recounting chairman John F. Welch's revitalization of General Electric. It sounded awesome--a quality measurement goal that allows just 3.4 defects per million units. (For comparison, 99 percent accuracy allows for 10,000 failures per million.)

At the time, that quality level seemed almost unimaginable at Dolan Industries Inc., a 41-person fastener manufacturing company founded by Dolan's father. But within a few years, after strenuous effort, the Clinton, Massachusetts, company began successfully meeting the rigorous requirements of the ISO 9000 quality standard, which is comparable to Six Sigma.

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