iSixSigma

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Robin Barnwell

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Trust

I read a lot of our client’s feedback, pages and pages of comments and thoughts. I use this information to align our processes and improve our customer experience. Let me touch on one area. When I read comments from people who think highly of us a single word appears repeatedly – Responsive and its visa-a-versa…

Targets are great

The curtains were drawn the room was dark. The man tied to the chair could not escape. The kidnapers were out negotiating the ransom. The man spied his iPhone on the table. He shuffled the chair forward inch by inch. Leaning forward he activated his iPhone with his nose. He managed to start e-mail and…

Asset Management

It’s been awhile since my last post. In October 2010 I secured a new role in our institutional asset management business in the City of London. Ever since I’ve been head-down learning the business and working furiously to pass my investment management exams so I can appear credible and add value. My role is front-office…

New Chapter

It’s been a while since I blogged, I have been working for just over a year on a huge IT project to pay the invoices for our property and motor suppliers via XML. Job done and I am moving into a new role.   I am joining Aviva Investors – our Asset Management division –…

Tan-O-Meter

We home educate our children and one approach we take is to think up and solve problems. When solving one of these, “how can you measure how tall a tree is?”, the Tan-o-meter was born! The maths is straightforward. You measure yourdistance from the treeand the angle to the top of the tree. Multiply the…

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Process Documentation

A new project team forms to solve a business problem and asks the simple question, “What is the current process?” A little digging around yields a dusty old process document, but it is so out-of-date. The project team (in their element) run a brown paper process mapping to get the true current process. Detailed analysis…

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Right to Left Planning

The most famous example of right-to-left planning I can evoke is – That the United States should set as a goal the “landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the earth” by the end of the decade Powerfull stuff, no messing around, but with a budget of $19.6bn you get a…

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Meeting Dynamics

I am spending January travelling around the country running process workshops. This means lots of travel and time to ponder on the dynamics of the meetings.……. Cross-functional Teams A group of people with different functional expertise who work toward a common goal, it may include people from finance, marketing, operations, research, engineering, and human resources…

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Christmas Quiz

There are five hats, two Black and three White. In a room sit three people, two can see and one is blind. The room is darkened and a hat is placed at random on each person’s head. People can only see the other hats not their own. The first person on seeing the other two…

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Silent Workshop

I have always thought the toughest parts of DMAIC are I(mprove) & C(ontrol). One of the reasons for this is that to deliver a sustainable solution means asking people to change. The opportunity to resist change and revert to status-quo being one of the challenges faced. What early indicator can you use to measure if…

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Business Scenarios

How do you describe a process to a team? There are lots of tools in the toolkit including value stream mapping, functional swim lanes, context diagrams and SIPOC to name a few. But I find they can be “a little cold” for a non-technical or cross-functional team and I want to “bring it to life”….

Parachute in the Fire Fighter

Organisation in chaos? Emergencies erupting? Been blind-sided by the unexpected? Project a few years late and still does not work? Need to get things under control? Make way for the Corporate Fire Fighter. (Phew!) This trusted pair of hands hits the ground running….makes rapid assessment of situation….. takes urgent action …… reports an outstanding success…

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What is truth?

Over the last 5 years I have invested considerable time & energy in trying to become a skilled continuous improvement practitioner. I am a strong believer in continual learning via direct deployment experience. Over this same period, continuous improvement has become a main-stream product. Any business without an Operational Excellence, Process Improvement, Process Excellence, Continual…

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Thinking the Unthinkable

In our BB training we use the terms Divergent & Convergent thinking during the Improve phase. We cover a raft of brainstorming & lateral thinking techniques to encourage people’s divergent thinking. So please take a few moments to answer this question: How many uses can you think of for a Brick? How many did you…

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Six Sigma really sucks!

Picking-up on Sue’s recent Homeblog, I’d like to talk about my recent experience at home. Over this weekend my wife and I had “words” about the work I do helping on the home chores. There were a number of areas such as cooking, washing dishes, ironing, cleaning toilets, shopping, washing clothes, making beds, tidying-up, planning…

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Sampling Poser

I thought I would share my views on a question frequently posed by newly trained belts. I imagine you to may have encountered this situation. I do not have a clear answer but have come-up with a theory. Could be right, could be wrong. We talk about the discrete sampling equation used to calculate minimum…

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Targets – Part 2

In my last blog, Targets, I covered the situation of hitting time targets in a services environment. I thought I was onto something but wasn’t sure just what…….. Just to recap, people are targeted on delivering work within a certain time frame e.g. reply to a customer letter within X number of days. There was…

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Hitting Target

Targets appear in all shapes & sizes. Sometimes seen as positive, “we operate a target-driven culture” and sometimes negative, “targets drive the wrong behaviour”. So what is true? Given the sheer diversity of targets, I want to focus on a specific area, daily work targets in a services environment. Let’s look at a scenario. Imagine…

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Tip-Top Tip

Happy New Year! Today, rather than talk about something deeply insightful I thought I would share one of the tools I like to use. Ever had to arrange a project meeting? Did you need to get say 10 people’s diaries aligned, usually at short notice? Was it fun? There are many ways to approach this…

Christmas Challenge

This is just for fun and to win a real prize you need to have been very good all year and have a generous expense account. Good old Santa wants to give you a Christmas present. He’s checked if you have been naughty or nice and the news is not good, so you have to…

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Thriving on Chaos

I used to work in the IT business and we were always on the look-out for the next “big thing” to cash in on. It was things like moving from mainframes to open systems and onto Microsoft Windows, relational databases, business intelligence systems, OLAP reporting and CRM systems. Sowhile I was travelling home from Sydney…

Sticky Solutions

You invest 4 months of your life. You work in close co-operation with the operational teams. You gain buy-in and agreement on an innovative solution to enhance business performance. You build sustainability into the solution. You identify clear benefits in terms of financial, process, people and customer. It’s a text-book project. So return in 6…

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My journey towards Lean

When I started in continuous improvement (CI) four years ago it was via the traditional Six Sigma DMAIC route. I was indoctrinated into the Six Sigma world and have earned my ASQ CSSBB and can do impressive stuff with statistics. Lean was not even on the radar for me, it was just another approach that…

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Company Policy – Help or Hindrance?

I recently bought some registry cleaning software on the internet using PayPal. My mistake, it was a scam. I made contact with the PayPal Dispute Resolution team to see if I could get my money back. Followed the highly efficient process (no human interaction) and made repeated attempts to contact the supplier before escalating to…

Manufacturing

For a hobby last year I started making cider (hard cider in the US). Below are some of the demijohns of apple juice I fermented. I cracked open a finished bottle and it looked & smelt great, but the taste…. it was insipid, slightly acidic and low in alcohol. Not good. Being in the business…

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Small Change Big Impact

Across the globe food prices are rising rapidly. The potential causes are many including big ticket issues like rising demand in emerging markets, oil prices, bio fuels, trade tariffs, global warming, population growth and tight supplies. With all that lot stacked-up its no wonder that prices are going up. Big problems call for big solutions…

Return to Sender

In 1660 King Charles 2nd officially established the General Post Office by act of parliament. In 1840 the first adhesive stamp, the penny black, was introduced. There’s a fair degree more history I skipped because I want to talk about a recent innovation. Pricing in Proportion was launched on the poor unsuspecting customer in 2006….

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Looking for Inspiration

Our Lean Manufacturing program is stepping-up a gear and as part of this we are looking to present the approach to a large audience of about 200 people. And I am looking for some inspiration. If anyone has a good ice-breaker, simulation, case study or other activity that would take about 30 minutes and engage…

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Hard Reality

The Adam Smith Institute has set June 2nd as UK Tax Freedom Day. This means we spend more than 5 months each year working for the government. How do we spend what’s left? Our gasoline is currently £1.23 per litre (that’s $9.15 a US gallon). If you avoid the car then our train prices are…

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New Kid on the Block

Now I have achieved my ASQ Black Belt certification and with my brain still packed full of Lean Six Sigma information, I thought I would see if I could collect some more badges. So it’s a big “Lean Six Sigma Certification” welcome tothe British Standards Institute (BSI). My experience with BSI goes way back to…

Total Innovation

In our business we are passionate about achieving breakthrough innovations and I’d like to share a few examples of how we really push the envelope. Lets start with the fire alarm. It’s seldom used for real but reaches right across the whole campus with a very clear message: “Emergency, please leave the building by the…

ASQ CSSBB

In January I looked through the ASQ body of knowledge (BoK) for Black Belt and said to myself, “I know most of this stuff now”. So put in my entry and passed the Mar’08 exam. I thought I would share the experience, as I believe a number of practitioners may have looked at the ASQ…

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Right First Time, Every Time!

Imagine a world in which we routinely do things Right First Time, Every Time. There would be no more rework as first time yield is 100% and no need to coach & mentor as green & black belts hit the ground running. Unfortunately it tends to be the case that in order to be Right…

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Anti-Me

Over my career I have taken many personality & skill tests. For example, I know my Myers Briggs Indicator Type, mapped myself across the Insight Discovery Wheel, discovered my rating on the Management Assessment of Proficiency, found the next number in the sequence, found the wrong shaped shape and generally been tested in every conceivable…

The Decision Point – Transactional Defect Bonanza

Having now delivered many transactional projects I have noticed common themes repeatedly occurring. These include: IT Systems that have been poorly designed or operated Inadequately thought through policies & procedures Opaque, non-existent or duplicate processes Lack of viable information on process performance But there is one area I would like to focus, decision points. People…

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Half-Life

Every morning and every evening I walk to and from work.It can go fromcold rainy days (like today!) to balmy summer evenings. I enjoy the exercise and get to watch the changing of the seasons. For those of you with a statistical bent this is the season to “guess the population distribution”. On my return…

How to Approach Improve

The very first Six Sigma book I read was The Six Sigma Way. The first page describesthe story of a CEO jumping to solutions and being educated by a Black Belt on the methodology. He is turned around and states, “We’re not in the ‘Just Do It’ mode anymore”. My take-away being, we take a…

Christmas Conundrum

Here is a take on the Christmas challenge for you, Retrograde Chess. Your aim is to identify the missing piece. This position was reached only through legal chess moves. A word of caution, its tough, it took me a few days to crack and I found coming back to it a regular intervals helped. If…

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Give me the power

While reading about type I & II errors and specifically beta-risk I realised that although I was happy with alpha-risk I didn’t recall seeing beta-risk in any of our sampling or hypothesis equations. Being curious, I wondered why I was only accounting for type I errors in my work? Just to review, we need to…

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Time – Cost – Quality

The triple constraints triangle (below) is used to show the tensions a project needs to balance when meeting its objectives. Normally set at the beginning of the project, a scope change in any one dimension will have an effect on at least one other dimension e.g. a reduction in time can increase costs or reduce…

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Customers

Customer relationship, customer insight, customer retention, customer proposition, customer experience, customer journey, customer-centric, customer analytics, customer loyalty, customer value, customer satisfaction, customer equity, customer intelligence, customer contact strategy……the poor customer they have been so slice-n-diced by so many people over so many years they must be a messy pile of little cubes on the floor….

Lets be Pragmatic

I believe Deming may have said something in this area, but given I couldn’t find a famous quote I made one up. 80% of business issues come from the process and only 20% from the people who work at the business If someone told me that, I’d say, No!Look at the things people do that…

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I have been blind

Now I like to think I am quite an objective & freethinking person and don’t always follow the herd when I think something is wrong. I’m not a complete contrarian but am willing to “go it alone” when I feel something is important. So it is a great disappointment to me to say I have…

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Seeing the wood from the trees

I have been working with my colleague, Dave Baker, here at Aviva and we have been researching the long-term behaviour of our processes. Now I am not going to go down the path of process capability analysis, Cp, Cpk, Zshift and the like. Take a look at this simple time series plot to see why….

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My Secret Weapon

I have a secret weapon, let me explain. At the start of a 6-week project, I put together a detailed data collection plan to pull data from one of our legacy systems. Worked with IT and received the schedule next day, 2-weeks analysis, 2-weeks build & 2-weeks test. Not good news! The project was planned…

Innovation

I have struggled for sometime to appreciate the relationships between Lean Six Sigma and Innovation. Part of this is because I have never really given it much thought and also a couple of things worry me. I think I need to cover what this baggage is before talking about how I think they the two…

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Micro map

A couple of days ago, during a particularly boring meeting I started to doodle. But it wasn’t one of those doodles where you draw a box, then put a cross in it, then shade it, add a couple of surrounding circles, give it legs etc…. it was a doodle with purpose, I started doodling Lean…

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Benefit Pitfalls

One of the foundations of Lean Six Sigma is its clear link to benefits. Take a look at some of the quoted benefits from the Lean Six Sigma behemoths: GE saved $12 billion over five years and added $1 to its earnings per share Honeywell (AlliedSignal) recorded more than $800 million in savings Six Sigma…

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ANOVA

In my on-going journey to master the tools & techniques of Lean Sigma I have been reviewing the materials on ANOVA. How useful this has been, it has really moved me on a level. ANOVA comes across in training as a very useful tool and Tukey’s pairwise comparison really hits the spot. However in our…

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The Next Generation

From Gauss defining the normal distribution to Galton designing his theories on correlation to Onho developing the Toyota Production system, we are proud of our rich heritage and the number & variety of sources that have come together to create the Lean Six Sigma model. So it is encouraging to see what may be an…