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 First Time you need to Get It Wrong Lots of Times First. It’s just a people-thing, they learn from their mistakes.

But that’s where Six Sigma comes into play. Why bother getting improvements wrong when you can accurately define the key output as a function of the key inputs (DMAIC) or design new processes clearly linked to customer needs (DFSS)?

Now I have done numerous projects that require detailed technical analysis and lots of problem solving tools to get the root-cause. Extensive re-engineering follows with major IT changes. So it was nice to have a project that presented as essentially poor end-to-end process management. I have been looking forward to doing Kaizen for some time and must say it works.

The change in style is important in order to get the people involved and engaged in owning and delivering improvements to their own processes. It’s all about looking to embed the idea that they own the continual improvement of their process rather than having a project come and “Do It” to them. It’s all about getting them into the habit of wanting to improve rather than trying to get it Right First Time.

I guess it defines the difference between process improvement – highly targeted projects and continual improvement – people repeatedly improving their process?

Comments 5

  1. michael cardus

    this is like the practice makes perfcect concept that is flawed in its theory. You can practice the totally wrong approach and with no results to show what you are doing wrong it becomes incorporated into the culture.
    What 6 Sigma is helpful with is the "perfect Practice makes perfect". This in a 6 sigma lens shows what is working and what is not and allows for changes to learn from failures.

  2. Sue Kozlowski

    Your blog today reminds me of a notice that used to hang on my medical director’s door. It said: "We don’t have enough money to do it right the first time; but we do have enough money to correct it, after we do it wrong."

    Thanks for your post!

  3. Robin Barnwell

    Hi Michael, have to agree, you can’t practice without the right metrics and feedback loops in place. How else would you know if you are making improvements?
    But I think it also comes down to trusting people who really understand the process to do the right thing.

    Hi Sue, doing it Right First Time is non-negotiable in some circumstances and medical is a good example. Wouldn’t be keen on having a surgeon practicing on me!

  4. Jojo BlackBelt

    [ In this blog, you said "It’s just a people-thing, they learn from their mistakes."

    Before we get to mistakes, we need to see learning as a "people-thing" process, one that can be improved upon also. The methods of and philosophy behind presenting material / processes must comport with the learner’s cultural norms or the result will be mistakes and repeated mistakes until that learning inculcates into the learner’s cultural norm.

    A very common example is while driving, not only is it a law, but drivers culturally know to stop at red lights and red stop signs. Both the color red and the red octagonal pattern have been emblazoned into their psyche. I speculate that if a driver from another culture where red means Go and the equivalent shape was a pentagon tried driving in this society, she/he would have problems until they became familiar with the shape and the color.

    A more pertinent example would be to have all students stand and explain classroom material to a seated instructor who writes down or records it. The students would have to grasp the essence of the classroom material first, then show their understanding of it using this learning technique. You’d get a diversity of approaches and perspectives of the material and that which is absolutely wrong could be corrected by the “instructor” and fellow students. As each student hears the explanation of other students, he/she could adjust her/his perception of the material. Who goes first?

    Who’d need tests?

    As Mary Ruff, iSixSigma Staff Writer puts it in her article, Using Six Sigma to Solve Issues in Public School System, "With that [Six Sigma] background, those students will be way ahead of their classmates in college – not to mention the workplace."

    So, to get to Right First Time, Every Time, I contend that imparting a Six Sigma philosphy and method of problem solving, learning, etc. in educational settings is a must.

  5. Robin Barnwell

    Hi Jojo,

    Thanks for your comment. Just to make sure I understand the comments please allow me to paraphrase. Are you saying, “Six Sigma classroom training, in the style mentioned, will cause people to implement process changes that are right first time?”

    The emphasis is on the style used with students explaining what they know to expose errors and to help them to get to the “perfect answer” in the classroom before hitting the process.

    Just to be sure, I was highlighting the difference between project teams showing-up, doing some improvements & dashing off the next project compared to the process owner understanding their process, developing a continual list of potential enhancements and driving these through to delivery.

    So in this scenario, yes training would allow them to be more effective. But I am not convinced on right first time. What feedback do you get from your students on the training style?


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