The latest issue of iSixSigma Magazine highlights the DFSS program at John Deere Power Systems, measures the critical inputs for Lean Six Sigma success and offers tips for recharging your deployment.

In its May/June issue, iSixSigma Magazine focuses on the inevitable need for Lean Six Sigma deployments to refuel, refresh and recharge (also the theme of this year’s iSixSigma Live! Summit & Awards). The issue offers advice directly from the Summit stage, as well as input from new and frequent contributors on avoiding obstacles and eliminating errors. Featured on the cover, and in the Corporate Leadership article, are leaders from the Design for Six Sigma (DFSS) program at John Deere Power Systems, which is using the methodology to optimize its engine offerings.

There’s a lot to learn in this issue – here are a few of the editors’ favorite findings.

Better by Design

Engineers at John Deere Power Systems in Waterloo, Iowa, USA, face a challenge: to create engine products that not only fit strict emissions regulations from the Environmental Protection Agency, but also meet rising customer expectations for power and performance. In 2006, the division adopted DFSS to aid in the design and manufacturing of engines. The approach got off to a rocky start, but employees are now embracing the methodology – and finding success.

As DFSS deployment leader and Division Engineer Robert Barnes explains, resistance from the engineers became apparent during the first wave of training. In that initial session, Barnes said, “We chose high-potential people. Then, we chose projects for them. That was a huge mistake.”

From the second wave of training on, Green Belt projects were chosen initially, and then appropriate engineers were asked to attend the training program. “We got together, not just with the senior staff, but we also pulled in people below them and said, ‘Let’s choose projects that are coming our way that are really important and let’s choose projects that we feel are imperative,” Barnes added. “After choosing trainees based on the projects they were working on, we found that it made more sense to operate this way.”

The Critical Inputs for Lean Six Sigma Success

For this issue’s exclusive research feature, iSixSigma partnered with Air Academy Associates to examine the factors that positively influence deployments. A survey measured the achievement levels of 10 Lean Six Sigma program inputs and five outputs; responses were analyzed by Air Academy Associates’ Mark Kiemele and George Maszle. Among other interesting results, this research found that:

The program input “change management and cultural strength” is the only factor that significantly impacted all five output variables (customer value, intellectual capital, top-line growth, bottom-line growth and culture change).

  • Surprisingly, the input “reward and recognition” did not impact any of the five response variables significantly.
  • The report also examines the role that deployment length plays in input and output achievement levels.

Breaking Through

What should you do when your organization hits a wall? For a deployment, that wall could be the point at which progress is halted for financial, operational or cultural reasons. Lean Six Sigma instructors Peter J. Sherman and Kenneth C. Levine address this question in “Breaking Through.”

The authors’ first piece of advice is simple: Talk to your customers. Sherman and Levine describe how listening to the voice of the customer (VOC) can help an organization rediscover the specific needs they should be providing. Once this information is in hand, the business can begin developing new and better ways to meet customer requirements.

Continuing in the refreshing and recharging vein, this issue also features an article by Jason Morwick about avoiding the “bloom and doom” deployment curve and a piece by Braden Kelley that highlights a pathway to innovation using the DMAIC roadmap.

Live! Lessons: Mastering Maturity

During a panel at the 2011 iSixSigma Live! Summit & Awards, McKesson’s Bob Gooby, Cardinal Health’s Bill Owad and Firstsource Solutions’ Chandeep Singh discussed how improvement efforts can mature to become self-sustaining. The industry veterans stressed the value of adapting to new challenges, keeping training sessions fresh and integrating Lean into existing Six Sigma programs.

On this last point – accepting the role of Lean in process improvement – Gooby, vice president of process redesign at McKesson, said, “You never see anything constructive come from fighting between Lean and Six Sigma. From a manager’s perspective, they don’t care either way which one is used, as long as there are bottom-line results.”

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