iSixSigma

Blogs

Lean Six Sigma for Poets

Lean can be of great value in office environments. However, the use of complex jargon and statistics, plus a focus on manufacturing, have hindered the adoption of these tools in other settings where they can be useful.

You Can’t Excel if You Avoid People

If your goal is control at all cost, or faster and deeper analysis, automation might be just the strategy for you. But if you need to retain and motivate your people to boost business performance, such a strategy of people avoidance is likely to come to a sticky end.

All Models Are Wrong

Depending upon the particular organization, quality may or may not be influential in management decision-making. Ultimately, it depends upon what is understood as quality. There may be more urgent tactical actions than those related to quality if the organization’s product or service quality is acceptable – it may not be perfect, but if it’s acceptable then that’s good enough.

Introducing SixSigma3.0

It is a time of change. The world is developing faster with each passing day. Continuous process improvement technologies, which could make these changes more significant and effective, trail far behind this trend. Who suffers? Companies that lose competition, people who cannot find a new place in the changed labor market and countries that are…

3 comments

The Fastest Way to Achieve Zero Defects

In the aerospace industry, zero defects has been the driver for customers and competition since Phil Crosby and his team at the Martin Company provided the Army with a zero defect missile in the 1960s. This is not a new concept but the first question that comes to mind is: how much do we need…

5 Service-based Business Process Mapping Tips

Business process mapping is a great method for understanding the complex processes that impact a business’s bottom line. Comparing a map of how a process is supposed to work and how a process actually works can be revealing. These methods, originally developed to understand manufacturing processes, do not always translate well to service or transactional…

Case Study: Optimizing Fuel Economy

Late last year, I decided to upgrade my vehicle. For seven years I’d driven a Honda Civic. It was nothing special, just a reliable vehicle with good gas mileage – the perfect commuter car. But now I’ve got two kids, own a home and picked up woodworking as a hobby; fitting car seats and dimensional…

2 comments

Process Improvement in the Age of Smart Manufacturing

Process improvement projects have typically been a labor-intensive and imprecise process. Labor-intensive in that capturing the as-designed vs the actual current-state process required facilitated meetings, interviews, surveys and analyzing operational data over an extended time period. Imprecise in that workers will typically act differently when they know they are being watched and measured. The Hawthorne…

Collecting Ideas for Improvement – ASPIRE

Building a culture of continuous improvement within an organization goes beyond the ability to execute process improvement projects. An organization that supports continuous improvement promotes a non-blaming culture, focuses on the improvement responsibility of all employees and uses the talent of the entire workforce. Such an organization empowers employees to speak up when they see…

5 Suggestions for an OpEX Practitioner in a Digital World

The Lean Six Sigma (LSS) Green Belt and Black Belt curriculum needs an overhaul. The original operational excellence (OpEx) Lean Six Sigma methodology developed by Motorola in the 1980s and made famous by Jack Welch at General Electric (GE) in the early 1990s is finding itself a bit long in the tooth in comparison to…

1 comment

Understanding Permutations and Combinations

In Six Sigma problem solving, it is often important to calculate the likelihood that a combination of events or an ordered combination of events will occur. Understanding some of the basic concepts of probability provides practitioners with the tools to make predictions about events or event combinations. This provides a good foundation for understanding probability…

3 comments

Case Study: 5S in Practice

5S is a Lean tool that helps in workplace organization. The following is the list of five Japanese words and their translation in English. (Seiri) Sorting and prioritizing: Going through all the tools, materials, etc., in the work area and keeping only the essential items. Everything else is stored or discarded. (Seiton) Straighten or set…

23 comments

A Macro That Writes Macros

If you are like me, you may find yourself writing a fair number of MS Excel macros to automate repeatable tasks. One day it dawned on me, however, that several of the aspects of writing macros were repeatable tasks themselves. When writing a macro I would often start by: Creating a data structure that would…

1 comment

Cartoons as Tools

Part 1 Looking at the team I saw their eyes were glazing over. I hate that. We were finishing up a workshop in which the team had developed a current state process map of an information technology (IT)-related process. I was walking them through the sticky notes on the banner paper that made up the…

Driving Change One Project at a Time

When you try to perform process improvement, whether for cost, quality or other reasons, you will often find yourself in an environment where the status quo is the status quo. You may be new, and find yourself awash in a sea of this-is-how-we-do-things. People are in their comfort zones. Management may or may not get…

14 comments

How Much Training Is Needed to Create Good Black Belts?

One would think that with the levels of standardization and process efficiency we drive in Lean Six Sigma that there would be consensus on how much training a certified Black Belt should receive. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, despite the herculean efforts by the American Society of Quality (ASQ) and the…

1 comment

Everybody, Every Day: What’s Next for the Professional Problem Solver?

From safety to quality to productivity, there’s a trend in the way organizations have approached process-oriented movements. Starting as the responsibility of an individual or a group of people, to be successful, the movement inevitably shifts to shared accountability – it becomes the responsibility of everybody, every day. Professional problem solvers that have taken this…

2 comments

Growing Your Business

Every organization is under pressure to drive success for shareholders, stakeholders and owners. Organizations retreat to their comfort zones when challenged with achieving higher levels of success. Frequently, this results in controlling the bottom line. Continuous improvement can be used to enable top-line growth. Figure 1 shows a compelling reason to focus on improving your…

1 comment

Congratulations iSixSigma Movers and Shakers!

Have you been paying attention to your iSixSigma User Profile rankings? We’ve had a couple of community members jump levels in the past few months. We offer our thanks and congratulations to them for being a part of the iSixSigma community! Gary P. Cox: Silver Shelby Jarvis: Silver Forgotten what the rankings are? Want to…

Using Performance Boards Successfully in Services

Faced with stiffening competition, increasingly demanding customers, high labor costs, and, in some markets, slowing growth, service businesses around the world are trying to boost their productivity. Although manufacturing businesses can raise productivity levels by monitoring and reducing waste and variance in their relatively homogeneous production and distribution processes, service businesses find that improving performance…

1 comment

Leveraging Lean Six Sigma Tools for Strategic Planning

The Northern Regional Medical Command (NRMC) Office of the Chief Medical Information Officer (CMIO) is a team of high caliber military and civilian leaders tasked with deploying and supporting the use of information technology across 33 hospitals and clinics up and down the Eastern seaboard and extending as far West as the Mississippi River. This…

Cold Beer

I have to admit this is one of my favorite subjects – beer! Recently I toured the Ellis Island Casino and Brewery in Las Vegas. Our guide stated that their customers loved “cold” beer. Like most of you I immediately thought of Six Sigma critical-to-quality (CTQ) trees. (Yes, this stuff can be a curse.) As…

1 comment

A Look at 6S

The Lean Six Sigma (LSS) tool 6S has long been used by LSS practitioners as a tool for organizing work spaces from shop floors to operating rooms. This tool can also have tremendous value in organizing an area where many workers spend the majority of their work time – the electronic workspace. 6S Overview 6S…

2 comments

Should You Invest in Growth Potential or Talent?

The Difference Between a Growth Mindset and a Fixed Mindset “I am always doing that which I cannot do, in order that I may learn how to do it.” – Pablo Picasso As the engineering manager of a large manufacturing facility, Rick had a knack for identifying talent. Rick had a set of criteria that…

1 comment