197: The Top 12 | What is Six Sigma and How Does it Lead to Operational Excellence? Dr. Frank Barsi Explains.


It’s no surprise that Dr. Frank Barsi’s interview made our list of the Top 12 most downloaded episodes. The covid-19 pandemic and the associated supply chain disruptions offered a wellspring of interest in Lean and Six Sigma quality frameworks. Discussions around operations, once confined to the back office, have now earned their rightful place in the forefront of critical decisions made by technicians, front-line managers, and executives alike.

Back in the early 1970s, Dr. Frank Barsi escaped communist Hungary under the cover of night. He swam his way to Austria and eventually arrived in America with literally just the clothes on his back. Determined to start a new life, he quickly joined the U.S. Army. He would later go on to earn multiple engineering degrees. It was at his first job out of college that he was introduced to Six Sigma. At that time, the quality framework was well received in Asia, but not in America.

In this episode, Dr. Barsi reflects on his 40-year career in the aerospace industry. It’s a fascinating account of his journey in applying Six Sigma to improve a variety of production processes. That work spans developing flight controls for fighter jets and revolutionizing the casting industry.

Not sure what Six Sigma is or how you can apply it to your small business? Get ready to take notes as Dr. Barsi explains the framework, its key principles, and how you can apply some of its tools to dramatically increase profitability and achieve operational excellence.

Special Guest: Frank Barsi, Ph.D. – Retired Aerospace Quality Engineer & Technical Lead

Location:  Corona, CA  USA

Air Date: April 10, 2022



  • U.S. Department of Defense: the Department of Defense provides the military forces needed to deter war and ensure America’s national security. It consists of the following branches of military: Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, Space Force, Coast Guard, and National Guard.
  • Lockheed Martin: a global security and aerospace company that “…is principally engaged in the research, design, development, manufacture, integration, and sustainment of advanced technology systems, products and services.”
  • Boeing: “…the world’s largest aerospace company and leading manufacturer of commercial jetliners, defense, space and security systems, and service provider of aftermarket support. [They] support airlines and U.S. and allied government customers in more than 150 countries. [Their] products and tailored services include commercial and military aircraft, satellites, weapons, electronic and defense systems, launch systems, advanced information and communication systems, and performance-based logistics and training.”
  • Parker Hannifin: a Fortune 250 global leader specializing in motion and control technologies. “For more than 100 years the company has engineered the success of its customers in a wide range of diversified industrial and aerospace markets. Parker’s engineering expertise and broad range of core technologies uniquely positions the company to help solve the world’s greatest engineering challenges.”
    Alcoa: the company that invented the aluminum industry in 1888. Their name is “…synonymous with operational excellence and leadership in the production of Bauxite, Alumina and Aluminum products.”


Professional Organizations:

Videos & Online Courses:

  • Neil deGrasse Tyson Teaches Scientific Thinking & Communication: a MasterClass course taught by popular astrophysicist, Neil deGrasse Tyson. In this class, you’ll learn how to “…think like a skeptic, open your own mind through scientific literacy, distill data, and navigate bias to discover objective truths—and deliver your ideas in ways that engage, excite, and inspire.”
  • Learn What 5S is and How it Applies to Any Industry:

  • What is a Failure Mode and Effects Analysis (FMEA)?

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  • Producer & Host: Alicia Butler Pierre
  • Podcast Editor: Olanrewaju Adeyemo
  • Video Editor: Gladys Jimenez
  • Transcription: Jodie Maquiran
  • Sponsor: Equilibria, Inc.


More About Guest, Dr. Frank Barsi:

Frank Barsi, Ph.D. was born and raised in communist Hungary and emigrated to the US in 1972. He quickly joined the U.S Army and served three years of active duty and three years of reserve. His professional career started shortly thereafter which led him to a career in aerospace for the expanse of forty years in various technical leadership positions at companies like Boeing Aircraft, Lockheed Martin, and Parker Hannifin Aerospace Group. He helped develop projects like the F22 (Raptor) and the F35 (JSF) Primary Flight Controls.

He also served as the Technical Lead on Corporate Continuous Improvement Programs including the introduction and implementation of various Six Sigma training programs. This included Six Sigma process control concepts that resulted in production improvements of over two hundred different aerospace parts to a 100% first-pass yield (which historically had a 100% failure rate for the previous twenty years). Since then, these manufacturing processes achieved a Six Sigma production output and have maintained this status, to date.

Dr. Barsi holds a Ph.D. in Material Science and Engineering and another Ph.D. in Theoretical Particle Physics. He also has a Master’s degree in Metallurgy, a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering, and certifications in Six Sigma Master Black Belt ( Motorola Solutions DMAIC system) and Statistical Process Control Trainer. He’s also an expert in the concept of the Prior Production Approval Process (PPAP). Dr. Barsi now enjoys a life of retirement that includes exploring hobbies like welding, machine milling, cooking, and gardening.

More About Host, Alicia Butler Pierre:
Alicia Butler Pierre is the Founder & CEO of Equilibria, Inc. Her career in operations began over 20 years ago while working as an engineer in various chemical plants and oil refineries. She invented the Kasennu™ framework for business infrastructure and authored, Behind the Façade: How to Structure Company Operations for Sustainable Success.  It is the world’s first published book on business infrastructure for small businesses. Alicia hosts the weekly Business Infrastructure podcast with a global audience across 55 countries.


More About Sponsor, Equilibria, Inc.:
Equilibria, Inc. is an operations management firm specializing in business infrastructure for fast-growing organizations. Our mission is to provide access to tips, resources, and proven frameworks that revolutionize the way small businesses operate. We do that through original podcast episodes, blog posts, videos, presentations, workshops, and coaching sessions.


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