iSixSigma

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J. DeLayne Stroud

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The Implementation Plan – Getting Beyond the Quick Fix

One of my favorite elements of Six Sigma is researching a problem and finding the data to justify making an improvement. However, this element can also be one of the biggest barriers to securing support for a Six Sigma program. While practitioners might enjoy the hunt, executives often are looking for quick solutions that can…

Thinking Two Moves Ahead with Analytical Tools

Considering the performance of the stock market over the past few years combined with current economic conditions, many financial institutions are analyzing their processes for improvements. Unfortunately, the majority of process improvement tools available to Six Sigma practitioners – such as cause-and-effect diagrams, Pareto charts, histograms and scatter plots – have been used for analyzing…

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Safeguard Against Four Forms of Six Sigma Opposition

Over the years, I have had numerous inquiries from readers about overcoming opposition to Six Sigma. Interestingly enough,  have also experienced this opposition when speaking with prospective or existing clients, some of whom have asked me not to mention Six Sigma but to speak to tools in a generic fashion. Obviously, opposition to the method…

Defining CTQ Outputs: A Key Step in the Design Process

After starting a project and gathering the voice of the customer (VOC), it is time to define the critical-to-quality outputs (CTQs). CTQs are the key measurable characteristics of a product or process whose performance standards or specification limits must be met in order to satisfy the customer. These outputs represent the product or service characteristics…

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To Pilot or Not To Pilot a Six Sigma Project or Design

Defining “Pilot” The meaning of acronyms and words change over time – for example, ARM for many was an acronym for allergy relief medicine; banks use the acronym for adjustable rate mortgages. The same holds true for the meaning of pilot – the light that kept stoves burning, the title of an airplane captain or…

Project Management: Remembering the Human Element

Project management is a discipline comprised of planning, organizing, and managing available resources, which results in meeting or exceeding project goals and objectives. Included in project management methodology are specific start and completion dates, as well as emphasis on constraints such as quality, scope, budget and time. In Green Belt training, project management may be…

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Eliminating the Fear About Using Confidence Intervals

One of the pleasures of teaching Green Belts is helping to eliminate the fear of statistical analysis. One technique is to place an emphasis on not only when and why a tool or methodology is used but also what the data says in “plain English.” Memorizing complex formulas may be the goal of many Master…

Use a Thought Map to Increase Efficiency

Why create a thought map? What are the benefits? What common mistakes occur, or challenges may be faced, if a thought map is not used? Using non-statistical tools as well as more complex statistical techniques such as DOE (design of experiments) and SPC (statistical process control) can improve processes and products. A potential shortcoming in…

Use Forecasting Basics to Predict Future Conditions

Basic terminologies of time series and forecasting can be difficult to understand. There are four basic learning points: The definition of forecasting Forecasting as a business and communicative process (not a statistical tool) General definitions used in forecasting (regardless of statistical tool) The statistical/mathematical techniques Becoming Aware of the Broad View of Forecasting: Overview –…

Business Requirements Document: A High-level Review

Many businesses have a process in place to assist with project management and implementation. One opportunity for improvement involves making reasonable estimates of how big a project is and how much it is going to cost. There are many different names for tools used with this process: business needs specification, requirements specification or, simply, business…

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Basic Sampling Strategies: Sample vs. Population Data

Information is not readily found at a bargain price. Gathering it is costly in terms of salaries, expenses and time. Taking samples of information can help ease these costs because it is often impractical to collect all the data. Sound conclusions can often be drawn from a relatively small amount of data; therefore, sampling is…

The Change Game: Engaging Exercises to Teach Change

Successful initial implementation and ongoing maintenance of process improvements requires overcoming the resistance to change. Green Belts are change agents who need to recognize, understand and interpret resistance to change and develop skills to manage it effectively. Managing change resistance is often covered in training, yet a primary learning issue facing most organizations is the…

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Selecting the Best Business Process Improvement Efforts

A business process improvement (BPI) effort is a systematic approach to help any organization optimize its underlying processes to achieve more efficient results. I use “effort” rather than “project” because I have found that using this terminology results in more motivation and less pushback on the part of Green Belts. After all, effort is truly…

Nine Steps to Create a Great Customer Survey: Part 2

Many organizations use surveys to gather information and data in order to learn more about their customers. To prepare a successful survey, practitioners should follow nine basic steps. Part One of this series discussed the first three steps: establishing a goal, determining the sample and choosing the methodology. The fourth, fifth and sixth steps, which…

Aligning Call Center Agent Goals with Customer Desires

In the 1990s, the teller counter was the primary customer-facing area in the financial service industry, and so improvement efforts were leveraged in this arena. With increased improvements in technology and online banking utilization, however, process improvement efforts have shifted to internal areas. Yet companies must realize that even though customers are becoming more self-reliant…

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Nine Steps to Create a Great Customer Survey: Part 3

To generate a valuable customer survey, practitioners should follow nine steps. Part One of this series discussed the first three steps: establishing a goal, determining the sample and choosing the methodology. Part Two covered the fourth, fifth and sixth steps, which related to what types of questions to ask and how they should be asked….

Nine Steps to Create a Great Customer Survey: Part 1

Many organizations use surveys to gather information and data in order to learn more about their customers. While it is important to ensure that surveys are targeted to the right audience, confidence in the development and implementation of a survey is even more vital. To prepare a successful survey, practitioners should follow nine basic steps;…

How to Turn Resistance into Support for Lean Six Sigma

One phrase in Lean Six Sigma that may be heard more than any other is “culture change.” Most organizations today are undergoing some form of culture change, and 75 percent of all major or cultural changes fail to achieve their goals. Experience shows when strength and culture collide, culture has a higher probability of winning….

Teaching Six Sigma Awareness/Methodology in Workplace

Teaching Six Sigma awareness and methodologies in the workplace is not that different from teaching any process improvement subject. The most important point is to let the audience members know up front that they do not need a master’s degree in statistical analysis. From there, just “keep it simple” and use common, everyday examples to…

SIPOC Leads to Process Mapping and Project Selection

Often when companies introduce Lean Six Sigma as a way of executing process improvement in its organization, they get excited about all the statistical tools and are enamored with the idea of training Green Belts and Black Belts. An experienced Six Sigma deployment leader will rein-in that enthusiasm and point out that there is much…

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Understanding the Purpose and Use of Benchmarking

Benchmarking is a way of discovering what is the best performance being achieved – whether in a particular company, by a competitor or by an entirely different industry. This information can then be used to identify gaps in an organization’s processes in order to achieve a competitive advantage. Thus it is important for Six Sigma practitioners…

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Challenges of Discrete and Attribute Data Measurement

More than ever, companies today realize the importance of measurement – everything from measuring performance to measuring gap closure – in order to achieve goals. Measurement is the process of estimating the ratio of the magnitude of a quantity to a unit of the same type. A measurement is the result of such a process, normally expressed…

‘We Are the Champions!’ – Exactly What That Means

Freddie Mercury, former member of the 1970s British rock group Queen, may not have been the most appropriate and politically correct when he wrote these song lyrics, “No time for losers, ’cause we are the champions….” However, fans understood the meaning and the excitement generated by being a champion. The same should hold true for…