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Robin Barnwell

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Treat the symptoms, not the cause?

Here is a situation encountered on a recent project. I have abstracted the key-points here. The project started as a textbook DMAIC engagement with all the elements you would expect to find including impact on customer, strategic problem, clearly measurable benefits and well-defined goals. The project was too tackle rework created at a certain process…

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What Flavour Are You?

I recently had an opportunity to talk with someone involved in a manufacturing deployment. What struck me was how different their deployment was to ours. This worried me into thinking we were somehow doing it wrong and not doing real Lean Six Sigma. I think I have now rationalised the experience and here is what…

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Mission Impossible

After last year’s run-in with my broadband provider, here is an equally nonsensical situation encountered with my wireless provider. It highlights another core business issue. My mobile phone (cell phone) broke, so I ordered a new one and it arrived the next day. Handed over the broken phone and started-up the new one. Hold on,…

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Tough Nut To Crack

Last week was a difficult week in the office with a number of day-to-day issues going the wrong way. As the week drew to close I found myself feeling low and faced with a 4-hour drive home. On the way home I indulged in some negative brainstorming around people’s job titles e.g. Director of Infuriating…

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What is your structure?

A review of the information covering Lean Six Sigma deployments shows a clear focus on such items as. Roles & responsibilities: – e.g. champion, process owner, MBB, and BB Critical success factors: – e.g. Leadership commitment, alignment to strategy and suitable training/accreditation system Project selection & sponsorship But what I have been interested in is…

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Hello World

My understanding of Lean Six Sigma is mainly based on the projects and the people I work with here at Aviva. Being one of the biggest businesses in the UK, Aviva gives me great opportunity to work on complex problems & processes. But it has its limitations. I work exclusively in the financial services market…

Road To Nowhere

A little off message today, but (eventually) topical. Britain’s ancient roads have carried people and livestock for centuries. But it was the engineering skills of the Romans who transformed our road transportation system. In the first 100 years after their invasion in 43AD they built at least 8000 miles of road so even the most…

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Root-cause effects

Because I’m currently reviewing the materials on cause and effect I seem to be noticing it everywhere, I wonder why? Either way finding root-causes is an essential part of my job and I have a wealth of tools available such as Ishikawa diagrams, correlation, regression models, DOE and multivariate charts. In reviewing the on-line materials…

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Minitab User Group

As part of becoming an MBB I need to really understand statistics. I spend a lot of my own time studying and use Minitab to support this. But I was surprised to find there was no Minitab User Group where I could meet like-minded people to share my experiences and accelerate my learning. So I…

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Mainstream

Middle manager of a mid-sized business with an average market share makes a New Year’s resolution, “I must improve our performance!”. Hits the Internet to discover what’s out there and is absolutely bombarded with the latest thinking and best practise in how to improve their business. KISS…4P…5P…Burning platform…Blue Ocean…7S…PRINCE2…MBWA….Seven Habits…CMMi…Governance…Scenario Planning…Six Sigma….Innovation…Kotler…Activity Based Costing…Balanced Scorecard…Six…

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Acceleration

Consider a Lean Six Sigma programme with a number of projects in-flight. It’s a good mix of projects with varying delivery-timescales and range of benefits. Projects are run by dedicated black belts who manage the DMAIC phases in the waterfall approach. Its what you might call the “standard” approach to delivery. The customer couldn’t care…

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Change Agent

One of the main reasons I signed-up to Lean Six Sigma was because I had discovered a great set of tools to help me deliver change quicker & better. Through my training I wondered how I had survived so long without sampling & confidence intervals, SPC’s, regression and FMEA. Being able to look at a…

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Lean Madness

I recently took a long train journey to Wales to attend a user group for a software package that defines Enterprise Architecture (Zachman et al). More details in a future IT blog. But what caught my eye was an article in The Times newspaper: Tax staff told to clear their desk Being told to clear…

Cassandra

On 31st October, Sir Nicholas Stern, working for the UK Government, released the Stern Review. This review looked at the potential economic costs for global warming with a headline that global warming could shrink the global economy by 20% and up to 200 million people could become refugees as their homes are hit by drought…

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Defects!

When it comes to defects here is a great example I suspect other readers may have experienced. But as you will see it has made me question the Six Sigma approach. I would like to ask for guidance. It’s an example I find is happening with increasing regularity and seems to be linked to the…

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The Ultimate Accolade

Yesterday (9th October 2006) I heard that Edmund Phelps was awarded the 2006 Nobel Prize for Economics for his theories developed in the 1960’s on the interplay between inflation expectations and unemployment. This showed that there is a “natural” rate of unemployment, a level below which inflation pressures are likely to intensify. His theories led…

Read all about it!

During my recent travels, I was passing through London on the way to Bristol and bought a copy of the London Evening Standard to pass the time on the tube (subway) from Liverpool Street to Paddington. On leaving Liverpool Street I read the front-page headline, ‘£40m tube refit sends out the wrong signals’. A five-month…

What makes a satisfied customer?

Here is further article on the use of IT in six sigma projects.  We are all familiar with using analytical tools such as DOE, regression, and control charts for inferential statistics to model and predict behaviour. One IT tool I have recently had the benefit of using being decision trees. Let me explain. Take for…

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What Is Your Destiny?

In my last blog I asked readers to comment on the core reasons for project failure. Well having waded through the flood of 10 responses (thank you all) here is what you said. Projects were split 50:50 between manufacturing and transactional with improving satisfaction levels and reducing costs the main objectives. But what I was…

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Process improvement gone mad

I have recently moved to the east of England (Norwich) and one of the first things I did was join the library. Now, every library I have used had a simple process for borrowing books. The book details are recorded and the return date stamped at the front of the book. Sound straightforward? Well not…

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Greetings Earthlings

Coming from an IT background I am fluent in Techie. I feel right at home talking about NAT, BIOS, ERD, PERL, API, DHCP, IMAP, SMTP, SNMP and so on. With the right audience I can have rapid conversations in what may well sound like utter nonsense. But equally when working with a non-IT person I…

The Long Game

In a world where I could call myself the Senior Master of the Highest Order of Black Belts, I have always been a little circumspect of using the Black Belt handle. So after 18 months the time has come. I can now call myself a Six Sigma Black Belt! I have been accredited by our…

Analysis using Maps (Part 1)

Here is another example of the use of IT in projects. I would like to describe how useful mapping is in data analysis. I will use a fictitious scenario. Sigma Industries have a fantastic product that VOC research says should be a phenomenal success. But the problem is product sales are not meeting expectations. As…

Go on Daddy!

Lean Sigma engagements mean I am frequently travelling around the country with many nights in a hotel. This typically means full English breakfast, canteen lunch and hotel dinner. Unfortunately after 18-months it has started to show and I have gone from lean-mean change machine to chubby-mean change machine. Imagine the shock on returning home after…

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On-line Surveys

I have spent my entire career in IT and feel privileged to have had the opportunity to work in such a fast moving industry and to see the changes from propriety mainframe to open systems to windows and now the Internet. SoI have a tendency to want to apply IT to the projects I run….

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Who is Malcolm Baldrige?

Malcolm Baldrige was US Secretary of Commerce (1981-1987) and a leader in quality management. He helped create the US Quality Improvement Act of 1987 and in his honour the annual award is named after him (Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award). The US President presents the award. The US is not unique in having a national…

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It’s data Jim, but not as we know it

During my black belt training I was introduced to the true scope of the normal distribution. Here was a distribution found extensively throughout nature and industry. It is a principle building block for the six-sigma methodology from which a number of our essential statistical tools are based including all of the t-tests. We discovered that…

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