The Implementation Plan – Getting Beyond the Quick Fix

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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 […]

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Thinking Two Moves Ahead with Analytical Tools

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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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The Right Data: Why Actual Activity Is Better Than Aggregated Counts

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Let’s face it – without meaningful data there cannot be meaningful data analysis. Data is typically collected as a basis for measuring success and, ultimately, taking action. However, unless data is viewed realistically – separating opportune signals from probable noise – the actions taken may be inconsistent with the data collected in the first place. […]

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Opposition to Lean Six Sigma

Safeguard Against 4 Forms of Six Sigma Opposition

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At some point in time, you are likely to encounter one of four types of resistance to Six Sigma: technical, political, organizational and personal. To resolve these negative forces, understand their root causes and adjust your deployment strategies accordingly.

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The Kano Analysis: Customer Needs Are Ever Changing

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I will be the first to admit that I still have a few cases of 8-track tapes. For those too young to know what 8-track tapes are, please ask your parents. As a customer who purchased a lot of music, my needs were simple. I wanted clearer sound and something smaller to store. The music […]

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What Belts Should Know About the Cost of Poor Quality

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Of all the activities and tools used in the Measure phase of DMAIC, the thing many Belts struggle with the most is the cost of poor quality (COPQ), or the cost associated with the quality of a work product. Belts need to understand what COPQ includes, and what it does not, so they can determine […]

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Project Management: Remembering the Human Element

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

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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 […]

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Next Steps

Defining CTQ Outputs: A Key Step in the Design Process

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After gathering voice of the customer data, the next step is to translate user demands into design quality. A quality function deployment (QFD), also known as the house of quality, can help define those critical-to-quality outputs (CTQs).

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Use a Thought Map to Increase Efficiency

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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 […]

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Use Forecasting Basics to Predict Future Conditions

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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 – […]

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Six Sigma Business Requirements Document

Writing a Winning Six Sigma Project Business Requirements Document

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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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Eliminating the Fear About Using Confidence Intervals

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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 […]

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Basic Sampling Strategies: Sample vs. Population Data

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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 […]

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Nine Steps to Create a Great Customer Survey: Part 3

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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. […]

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Aligning Call Center Agent Goals with Customer Desires

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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 2

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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 […]

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Selecting the Best Business Process Improvement Efforts

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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 […]

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The Change Game: Engaging Exercises to Teach Change

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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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Nine Steps to Create a Great Customer Survey: Part 1

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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; […]

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How to Turn Resistance into Support for Lean Six Sigma

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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. […]

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Green Belt Coaching’s Role in Performance Management

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The Six Sigma coach must be able to provide feedback on every Green Belt to that employee’s daily job supervisor in order to help bridge the gap of business-as-usual job performance, and that of the Green Belt’s performance on their project.

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Teaching Six Sigma Awareness/Methodology in Workplace

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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 […]

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Understanding Statistical Distributions for Six Sigma

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Many consultants remember the hypothesis testing roadmap, which was a great template for deciding what type of test to perform. However, think about the type of data one gets. What if there is only summarized data? How can that data be used to make conclusions? Having the raw data is the best case scenario, but […]

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