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Six Sigma Leadership Profile: Uber

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At 6sigma.us, we like to analyze a variety of companies in our ‘Leadership Profile’ articles to showcase how they use Six Sigma. These companies exhibit innovative and resourceful skills that help further progress their organization’s success. Whether you’re a non-profit organization or an industry-leading manufacturing company, there’s always a use for Six Sigma methodologies. In the past decade, we are continuing to see more and more organizations find ways to improve their operations with these business process improvements. Likewise, the smallest of changes can drastically enhance an organization’s efficiency. In today’s Leadership Profile, we will take a look at Uber and see what Six Sigma methods the company uses.

The Birth of Uber

First, we all know taxi cabs. Their yellow color resembles a school bus and their insides are not much to talk about. Additionally, unless you’re only traveling a few blocks, they can become extremely expensive. Although there have been slight improvements in the taxi cab industry, i.e. mobile apps and websites that reserve you a ride, nothing has revolutionized the industry. That is until Uber came along.

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In March 2009, Uber was officially founded in California with a mission: to change taxi rides forever. Their platform is a mobile application that is accessible on nearly every smartphone in most countries around the world. In the past 8 years, Uber has grown immensely and has become the largest car-sharing service (or taxi) in the world. However, there’s a catch; Uber owns no cars!

Six Sigma Methodologies

You might be wondering; how can Uber be the largest taxi service company without owning a single car? The answer lies within their business model. Following this, we find the first methodology the company uses, DFSS, or Design for Six Sigma. This method looks at answering two distinct voices; that of the customer and that of the process. For the customers, they want a reliable taxi service, with the option to ride in luxurious cars, at a fraction of the price of a tradition taxi. The process requires a business model that allows this to happen, profitably. The answer; allow individuals to become certified Uber drivers, user their own cars, and manage their own schedules. While simple, this innovative process, is what allows Uber to generate billions of dollars in revenue, annually.

Next, Uber uses the backbone methodology for Six Sigma, DMAIC. DMAIC is a Six Sigma method that looks to define problems within a process and propose innovative solutions. Many organizations depend on DMAIC to resolve any number of business process issues. The key to successfully carrying out DMAIC is to direct the appropriate employee to manage the project.

A common problem traditional taxi services face is a lack of customer feedback. Without a simple way for drivers to receive feedback from customers, little effort is put into enhancing the overall experience. This is where Uber differs. By utilizing a mobile platform, the company can track rides as they happen, request feedback immediately following the trips, and report any complaints directly to the drivers. With the help of simple data analysis, Uber has overcome one of the largest hurdles cab drivers face and continues to expand into new markets every month.

Interested in applying this to your own business? For more information on our Lean Six Sigma certification and services, please visit 6sigma.us.