DMAIC is a Lean Six Sigma methodology that stands for define, measure, analyze, improve and control. It is a structured process to solve problems by breaking them down into smaller steps.
The DMAIC framework consists of five phases:
- Define – break down the problem into manageable components.
- Measure – gather data to understand the problem.
- Analyze – identify root causes of the problem through data collection and analysis.
- Improve – develop an action plan to solve the issue identified in the analyze phase.
- Control – monitor results and ensure sustained improvements over time
DMAIC has proven to be an effective tool, and has remain unchanged for years. But what if it can be improved upon so that it can be more easily achieved?
Overview: What is D-MAGICS?
D-MAGICS is a framework for process improvement and defect reduction modeled after the well-known DMAIC system. In an effort to make the DMAIC model easier to successfully implement, two simple yet helpful steps were added:
In the DMAIC framework, which is the first phase of a Lean Six Sigma project, it’s important to “grasp” the issues facing your organization. This means you develop a deep understanding of why things are the way they are, and what effects these things have on your business.
In this phase, you’re also looking for some sort of baseline data that you can use to determine if there is a problem at all—or if there is room for improvement. This requires a lot of research and analysis, but once you’ve gathered all this information, it will be much easier to make decisions about how to proceed with your project.
Once you’ve collected all this information, then comes acceptance: accepting that there is a problem in the first place. This doesn’t mean accepting defeat; instead it means accepting that change is necessary and committing yourself to work toward making that change happen.
DMAIC has been used in industry for years, but it can be difficult to implement in a way that leads to sustained results over time.
In order for a Lean Six Sigma implementation to be successful, it must be able to sustain itself after the initial project has been completed. This means that it must be able to withstand changes in leadership or staffing, as well as external factors such as market demand or regulatory changes.
The sustain step of D-MAGICS helps organizations achieve this by identifying what needs to be done in order for them to maintain their process improvements long-term. This includes creating a roadmap for future projects based on their current state and what they have learned during their current project.
3 Benefits of D-MAGICS
To some, the DMAIC system may already seem cumbersome and over-involved, and adding two more points can therefore feel counterintuitive to expeditious implementation. However, they are two points that are meant to facilitate faster completion overall.
1. D-MAGICS helps us remember the importance of starting small with our initiatives, learning from them, and using what we’ve learned to improve those initiatives.
2. D-MAGICS helps us remember that once we have improved our initial steps in an initiative, we must continue to monitor those changes and make sure they’re effective over time.
These two additions are beneficial because they help us prioritize quality improvement initiatives in a way that supports continuous improvement—a key principle of Lean Six Sigma. Not only are you ensuring sustainability in your organization’s efforts, you’re also making sure that you’re solving problems with lasting results rather than just dealing with symptoms of larger issues.
3. D-MAGICS can aid in avoiding regression or complete project failure.
Many organizations experience problems trying to implement Lean Six Sigma because they will often find it difficult to grasp the new methodology or sustain it when there are no resources devoted specifically to doing so. This can lead to regression or even failure of the project altogether.
The addition of “grasp” and “sustain” into the DMAIC system addresses this issue by providing a specific focus on grasping or sustaining each step of an LSS initiative. This helps ensure that companies have all their bases covered when improving their processes, and it decreases time spent on the other phases.
Why is D-MAGICS Important to Understand?
A problem-focused approach to Lean Six Sigma is a key element in the process improvement process. This is because it helps to identify the root cause of a problem, which is the first step in solving the issue. By identifying problems and understanding how they occur – by “grasping” those problems – Lean Six Sigma practitioners can make improvements to their processes that will eliminate or reduce these issues.
Additionally, it is very important to know how to properly sustain LSS improvements after implementation because if you implement LSS in a company and then abandon it, you are essentially throwing away your hard work.
This is because lean six sigma is all about continuous improvement and eliminating waste. In order to continue improving and eliminating waste in your organization, you need to make sure that the people who implemented the plan keep up with these efforts so that they can sustain them over time.
An Industry Example of D-MAGICS
In 1973, Xerox introduced the world to the desktop concept of computing with the Alto, which was the first computer to support a GUI-based operating system. It also re-imagined word processing by producing the WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) method favored today. Original inventions included things like laser printing, Ethernet, and object-oriented computing.
But after all that, they began failing to innovate. Management thought going digital would be too expensive and was convinced that the future of Xerox was in copy machines. Xerox failed to grasp that you can’t keep perpetually making money on the same technology. Sometimes technology fails too.
Bank of America was determined in 2011 to adopt a Lean Six Sigma improvement program as an effort to improve its operational efficiency, specifically in the area of process quality. The aim was to use LSS to increase customer satisfaction levels, which were quite low at the time. By focusing on numeral data which includes the number of complaints, the time needed for credit card processing, and also the time needed for responding to feedback, B of A successfully used LSS tools to ultimately reduce traditional problems such as late posting transactions, encoding errors, and omissions from customer statements. Today, Bank of America is one of the top 10 investing banks in the world.
3 Best Practices When Thinking About D-MAGICS
The concepts of grasp and sustain are two of the most important tools for incorporating Lean Six Sigma into a process improvement methodology.
Here are three best practices for incorporating them:
1. Ensure that you have the right people on your team.
You need people who have experience with the methodology, as well as experience working in your industry and with your customers. This will help ensure that the team can grasp the situation and then sustain the improvements that are made to processes.
2. Make sure that you are clear about what exactly needs improvement.
This includes defining what success looks like and how you will measure it, as well as defining how long it will take for improvements to be implemented and maintained.
3. The best way to incorporate sustain into a Lean Six Sigma process improvement methodology is by including an action plan within each phase of your PDSA (plan-do-study-act) cycle.
If you don’t include an action plan at the end of each phase, then it will be difficult for you or anyone else on your team to remember what they did during that phase and what needs to happen next time around.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About D-MAGICS
D-MAGICS is a data-driven approach to scaling Lean Six Sigma. It is a method of identifying, prioritizing, and problem-solving in an organization based on data collected from existing systems.
How do the concepts of grasp and sustain work together?
The best way to think about grasp and sustain is to consider them as a pair—like a yin and yang. If you have one without the other, you won’t be able to make lasting improvements at your business.
Grasp is the first step in making a change—you need to get your arms around what’s going on in order to identify the problem. Sustain is what comes after that: it’s about implementing the changes necessary for long-term success.
Together, these two concepts form an important part of a successful process improvement plan; if you’re doing lean six sigma wrong, you’re probably leaving out either grasp or sustain (or both).
What is the main reason companies fail to fully grasp their processes?
Many companies struggle with grasping their processes because they have employees who are not engaged in the process at all levels—from top management down through middle management and into the hands-on worker level. Without these three levels of engagement, it is difficult for companies to fully grasp their processes.
How do I know if my grasp and sustain plans are working?
You will need to monitor your metrics and make sure they are improving as expected. You can also compare them with other similar processes or projects in your organization to see if those metrics are improving as well.
One of Many Solutions
The D-MAGICS methodology – which includes grasp and sustain – is one of many solutions for advancing organizational efficiency. The framework helps you to identify and prioritize problems, gather data on the current state, analyze your findings, establish a plan for improvement, and then implement that plan.