Question: "What do Six Sigma and a three year old have in common?"
Answer: "They both understand the power of why."
Not only that, they don't ask "Why?" just once. They ask "Why?" in response to your answer to their last "Why?" question.
If you're the one doing the answering, it can get pretty frustrating. But, asking why over and over helps peel away the onion of symptoms and get down to the root cause of a problem. The same technique will work for you as a supervisor.
The trick is to use the "Why?" question enough times to get past the obvious. Five times seems to work pretty well.
Use the "Why?" technique in problem analysis. Ask "Why?" until you don't know the answer. Then investigate, gather some facts, turn them into an answer. Then ask "Why?" again. Keep asking until you've gotten to the rock bottom reason for the problem you're trying to solve.
Use the "Why?" technique when one of your subordinates gives you an "I thought" reason for why something wasn't done properly. Ask, "Why?" until you're sure you've uncovered the real source of the problem.
Six Sigma is one of the most powerful collections of business tools there is. Three year olds are the fastest learners on the planet. They both use the "Why?" tool to understand the world they face. It's a great tool for supervisors, too.
Six Sigma is a methodology and a collection of tools for problem solving. Although it was originally developed for quality control, it's worth your time to learn a little about the methodology and master some of the tools, no matter what industry or job function you're in.
The Lean Six Sigma Pocket Toolbook: A Quick Reference Guide to 70 Tools for Improving Quality and Speed by Michael L. George, John Maxey, David T. Rowlands, and Mark Price. This is the best collection of tools among the resources listed here.
What Is Six Sigma? by Pete Pande and Larry Holpp is the best overview of the methodology.
Six Sigma for Dummies by Craig Gygi, Neil DeCarlo, and Bruce Williams is a good basic review of Six Sigma. Its strength and its weakness are that this book is not specific for any particular job or industry. In that sense it's like most of the good Dummies books. I strongly suggest that you look inside this book and see if the content will work for you before you purchase.