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Holly Hawkins

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The Religion Behind Mandated Leadership

If there’s one thing I’ve noticed about the effect the current economy is having on businesses, it’s the polarization of Six Sigma. Programs have either been seen as the reverent coming of the messiah or the two-bit television evangelist that needs to be turned off and forgotten about. For those companies that feel they are…

What Sigma Value is your Food?

It seems like a month can not go by without some large scale food recall, with the latest being approximately 31 million pounds of peanut butter (due to salmonella contamination). I started to wonder what the sigma level for the aforementioned peanut butter would look like. According to a major news website, at least 500…

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Six Sigma for the Office

I love it when people in the office talk about what they can do to improve costs. Having said that, over the course of my career, I would say the majority ofSix Sigma office projects I’ve seen should’ve never been started in the first place. Is there variation in the office? You bet.Why is it…

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Getting a Clue with Queuing Theory

I often find real world examples of process “improvements” staring me blatantly in the face. For example, I stumbled upon queuing theory in action at the local movie theatre. Queuing theory is the study of how lines (or queues) are formed and dissipate over time. Examples of queues are everywhere: traffic at an intersection, restaurant…

Picking Fruit the Six Sigma Way

Any seasoned Lean Six Sigma professional can tell you about the fruit tree of quality. At the bottom of the tree there is fruit festering on the ground which represents “just do it” kaizen and bare bones problem solving. As you move up the tree, you can begin to pick the low hanging fruit by…

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Variance… Is it always a bad thing?

In Six Sigma we’re taught reducing variance is a good thing but is this really always the case? Take currency for example. In the US all paper currency is the same size and the same color. By reducing variance I’m sure the US Mint has saved costs by having a standardized ink color, standardized cutting…

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Six Sigma: The Laissez Faire of Politics

As I’m reading the newspaper, I notice two articles from different countries, Australia and China, both about eliminating plastic bag usage in retail outlets by the end of 2008. The Australian article focused on the benefits and did provide a few statistics, such as the number of bags used annually, estimated % decrease of landfill…

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Voice of the Customer- Is it Heard in Retail?

Black Friday came and went and I avoided shopping for a number of reasons, mainly because I couldn’t be stuffed getting up early enough to get a great deal. Besides, knowing my luck, anything on my list would’ve sold out long before I arrived. Unfortunately Christmas has not been the only time I’ve shopped only…

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Enabling Projects- Enabling Six Sigma Success

Most Six Sigma speak I’ve heard tries to categorize projects into “hard” vs. “soft” savings. Hard savings projects focus on cutting costs, increasing capacity, etc., while soft savings projects generally deal more with topics where dollar value may not be easily to quantify (e.g. environmental performance, employee morale, etc.). However, there is another type of…

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Why Projects Fail

My last article discussed the importance of verifying the sustainability of project work.Although there are many positives to living in a Six Sigma world, it does have a dark side- failed project audits. My experience, dependent on my employer at the time, has been that anywhere from 10-50% of projects are not embedded into an…

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V…The importance of Verifying Projects

Most of us are familiar with the DMAIC approach to Six Sigma.But what happens after control phase is completed? The answer is verification. A lot of hard work has gone into the project and as a project leader you need to be able to walk away from an improvement that is embedded and is meeting…

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Does Size Matter?

All too often we hear the accolades of Six Sigma being utilized in a large (and often publicly traded) companies. In recent years the DMAIC methodology has been spread into smaller healthcare organizations, government, and even some school districts. However it seems there is a vast under-representation of Six Sigma in small companies and private…

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Lean Six Sigma Forum-Malaysia

For those of you practising Lean Six Sigma in the Austral Oceania region of the world, IQPC will be hosting a Lean Six Sigma Forum from November 27-29 at the Prince Hotel in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Confirmed speakers include: Quality Director- Reuters Senior Manager Business Enterprise- Motorola Quality/Operational Excellence Leader-GE Plastics Director, Six Sigma- Ingram…

VOC for Six Sigma Satisfaction

Understanding the VOC: Six Sigma Belt Satisfaction Often Six Sigma focuses on the voice of the customer in terms of a public consumer or end business user/department. Yet how many times does leadership consider Six Sigma Black and Green Belts as a customer within the Six Sigma organization? In order to successfully train and retain…

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NPS and Six Sigma

Recently I had the opportunity to attend the IQPC Australasia Six Sigma summit. For me, the highlight of the event was a presentation given by GE. The presentation focused around how the company was taking the voice of the customer to the next level by aligning NPS (Net Promoter Score) methodology with Six Sigma. NPS…

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Good vs. Great Black Belts

In a prior post I reflected on desirable attributes for a Black Belt. After mentoring numerous Black Belts I can tell you what makes a good one, however I am wondering if one can statistically quantify a good vs. great belt. Sure, there are tons of metrics that can be used to measure a belt:hard…

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Pay for Skills Project-Control Update

Update on Pay for Skills A while back I wrote about a Six Sigma project that focused on implementing a pay for skills initiative. I am happy to say the project has passed through control phase and is currently institutionalized. Validating cross training employees created savings was a little difficult at first.Sure, there were tons…

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Six Sigma and Standardization

While travelling on an international flight earlier this year, I was asked to fill out forms for customs. After filling out the forms I proceeded to wait in line where fellow travellers in front of me delayed processing time because of a simple data entry error on their customs card. Apparently 1/11/07 is read as…

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Maintaining Momentum

It’s the holiday season and that means one thing: shopping! This is the one time of year where I will seriously shop, making my seasonal impulsive buys and spending money on items such as clothing, candy, electronics, etc. that I rarely buy throughout any other time of the year. Evidently, I am not alone in…

What Makes a Great Black Belt?

I recently attended my graduation ceremony for an Advanced Manufacturing Specialist certification in Kansas City.With Six Sigma methodology being a key component of the certification, I began to listen to the keynote speaker elaborate on the many projects and cost savings achieved by the seventy class graduates. As I reflected over the last year and…

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Six Sigma for the Holidays?

As I drove home this afternoon, I noticed workers attaching Christmas wreaths to the local real estate office. Call me crazy but I think it’s way too early to be adding snowmen and Santa to the landscaping. I mean it’s not even Halloween yet! Not to show my age or anything but I can remember…

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Pay for Skills

Implementing – Pay for Skills I recently led an initiative to implement a pay for performance structure within my employer’s Production department. While management unanimously believed the idea was excellent, I was challenged as to whether or not this constituted a Six Sigma project.“I though Six Sigma was about reducing costs. This project looks like…

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