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A Case of Mistaken Capability

The common expression “numbers do not lie” may be true, but a clear understanding of where the numbers came from, and of the human factors involved, is required to reveal the truth in the data.

A Comparison of Measurement System Analysis Metrics: Part 1 of 2

The precision of a measurement system is commonly assessed using a gage repeatability and reproducibility (GR&R) study. In Part 1, this article describes available GR&R metrics. Next week, Part 2 covers their applicability to two broad cases of comparative study.

A Comparison of Measurement System Analysis Metrics: Part 2 of 2

The precision of a measurement system is commonly assessed using a gage repeatability and reproducibility (GR&R) study. Part 1 of this article discussed metrics used in measurement system analysis. Here, Part 2 compares commonly used GR&R metrics with probabilities of misclassification.

A Guide to Control Charts

Control charts have two general uses in an improvement project. This article provides an overview of the different types of control charts to help practitioners identify the best chart for any monitoring situation.

A Kaizen Event with Shigeo Shingo at Hill-Rom Industries

Die changes at Hill-Rom took between one and four hours. With Shigeo Shingo as their guide, the fabrication team learned the single minute exchange-of-dies (SMED) system and accomplished what they thought was impossible.

A Model for Implementing a 5S Program

Despite its simplicity, 5S is more than a checklist. A model of implementation in which the 5S program is integrated with operational processes will yield the best results.

A Plan for a Five-day Kaizen

This article looks at some common tools and techniques for planning a successful Kaizen event, and identifies some pitfalls to avoid.

A Recipe for Continuous Improvement

With the introduction of continuous improvement in 2009, H.C. Starck has engaged and empowered employees on the shop floor, bringing about a culture shift and improvements in customer satisfaction, product quality, on-time delivery and operational profitability.

A Study of Estimates of Sigma in Small Sample Sizes

The options for estimating standard deviation with a small sample size are investigated in this comprehensive and thorough article.

A Supply Chain Case Study – Socks Manufacturing: Part 1 of 2

A socks manufacturing company in India turned to TQM to improve its supply chain. In Part One, the case study elminates a significant cost for the company – delivery delays.

A Supply Chain Case Study – Socks Manufacturing: Part 2 of 2

A socks manufacturing company in India turned to TQM to improve its supply chain. This week, Part Two of the case study looks at the broadening of the application of process improvement beyond deliveries.

Abstraction Factor Analysis: A Nonlinear Way to Improve Product Development

One way to extend the Lean Six Sigma toolkit is by introducing new, nonlinear approaches to improvement within the transactional improvement space – particularly upstream in the areas of innovation, new product development and the software development life cycle.

An Affinity for Organized Thinking: A Diagram With Many Uses

The humble affinity diagram can organize output from brainstorming, sort out overwhelming observations about a process, and inspire participation from a group.

An Affinity for Scope

Black Belt Mike is given his first project – Reduce Tray Jams. Mike's first task is to accurately define the project's scope to create that delicate balance between scope, time and resources.

Apply Cost of Poor Process and Product Quality to Life Sciences Industry

Some studies estimate the cost of poor quality within life sciences at 25 percent to 35 percent of sales revenue, while industries such as semiconductors are at only 4 percent to 8 percent. This is a huge opportunity that has been largely untouched thus far.

Applying Lean to New Product Development in Engineering Services

This case study examines the application of Lean to the engineering services industry in a subprocess of the new product development lifecycle -- the generation of 3D models and manufacturing drawings.

Assess the Maturity of an Organization to Realize Process Improvement Success

To get the biggest bang for its buck and have an effective process improvement implementation, a company needs to be clear on where it is starting from on the quality management maturity scale, and thus where effort should be expended.

Avoid Failure When Using Failure Modes and Effects Analysis (FMEA)

FMEA is a qualitative and systematic tool, usually created within a spreadsheet, to help practitioners anticipate what might go wrong with a product or process, and then to create plans to mitigate the risk of failure.

Avoid Two Common Mistakes in Measurement System Analysis

Learn two of the common mistakes made during measurement system analysis and how to avoid them.

Best of iSixSigma: 2012

The best of iSixSigma 2012 features the highlights of this year's content – as determined by our readers.

Best of iSixSigma: 2013

The best of iSixSigma 2013 features the highlights of this year's content – as determined by our readers.

Best of iSixSigma: 2014

The best of iSixSigma 2014 features the highlights of this year’s content – as determined by our readers.

Best of iSixSigma: 2015

The best of iSixSigma 2015 features the highlights of this year’s content – as determined by our readers.

Best of iSixSigma: 2016

The best of iSixSigma 2016 features the highlights of this year’s content – as determined by our readers.

Best of iSixSigma: 2017

The best of iSixSigma 2017 features the highlights of this year’s content – as determined by our readers.

Build a Visual Dashboard in 10 Steps

The Lean Six Sigma team at Ball Corporation began an initiative to develop visual signs on plant floors that would depict the health of the company and point to improvement opportunities. Here are the 10 steps they followed to build the ultimate visual dashboard.

Building a Six Sigma Project Team

Too much attention to politics and control will spoil a team’s chemistry. A few simple guidelines can make the process of building a productive project team more successful.

Calculate Capability Indices with Only One Specification

The example of a plastic pellet manufacturer shows how to apply process capability to a process with only one specification.

Case Study: A DMADV Approach to Marketing and Advertising

Effective marketing campaigns are important to the economy of the City of Kawartha Lakes, which relies on tourist revenue. Haphazard advertising campaigns needed to be standardized while ensuring customer needs were being met.

Case Study: Applying Resource Modeling to IT Problem

Using resource models to manage the utilization of human resources can lead to higher service levels, lower costs and other benefits. This case study within the field of information technology shows the mechanics of building such a model.

Case Study: Applying Six Sigma to Cricket

Mike was the best batsman in the Club Acme cricket team. His batting form had been declining the past few months, however, affecting the team’s win percentage and revenues. The team hired a Black Belt to analyze the factors affecting Mike’s batting and develop an improvement plan.

Case Study: Fault Reduction in Cable Industry

A cable company uses logistic regression to determine the variables most predictive of a "truck roll" (technician visit to customer's home) within seven days of a new installation.

Case Study: Improving Purchase Order Process

The accounts payable department of a healthcare system completed a Six Sigma project to address the high volume of invoices being processed and to develop a system for monitoring how well new processing-time standards are being met.

Case Study: Improving Recruitment Processes – Part 1 of 2

In this case study, a team strives to improve the recruiting process in a large, fast-moving consumer goods company. Part 1 focuses on reducing the recruiting cycle time.

Case Study: Improving Recruitment Processes – Part 2 of 2

In this case study, a team strives to improve the recruiting process in a large, fast-moving consumer goods company. Part 2 focuses on decreasing the effort required to fill a job opening.

Case Study: Improving the Flow of Cargo and Documents in a Shipping Company – Part 1 of 2

In this case study, a team wants to be sure their customer-focused business is satisfying its clients. This week, Part 1 focuses on reducing the wait times associated with transferring cargo and documents.

Case Study: Improving the Flow of Cargo and Documents in a Shipping Company – Part 2 of 2

In this case study, a team wants to be sure their customer-focused business is satisfying its clients. Part 2 looks at making more improvements using just-in-time (JIT) principles.

Case Study: Improving Value for Clients and Employees

Employees felt that expanding client-relationship scope over the years had minimized their value and effectiveness. How could they keep themselves challenged and provide better value for their clients?

Case Study: Increase Revenue by Decreasing Prices

A diversified manufacturing company looking to increase production volume got to the root cause of its low rate of converting proposals to orders – high prices. With a price decrease of 15 percent, the win rate nearly doubled and revenue increased 79 percent.

Case Study: Increasing Machinery Throughput Without More Machines

Too often manufacturing operations are quick to look at a technological solution or other capital investment to solve a problem, when an investment in human capital can make quick gains for less money.

Case Study: Maximizing the Response of Fire Services to Medical Calls

The City of Kawartha Lakes has 21 fire stations covering a large, mostly rural territory. A project was undertaken to assess the number of, and need for, volunteer fire fighters responding to non-life threatening emergency calls.

Case Study: Optimizing Processes in Louisville, Kentucky

After a review showed the city's process improvement team could increase its effectiveness, the team forged a new focus on strategic projects.

Case Study: Reducing Turnaround Time of Lab Reports in the ICU

Having successfully improved customer satisfaction in its diagnostic clinics, a hospital addresses the next problem area – delays in receiving lab test results for patients in the intensive care unit.

Case Study: Sime Darby Adds $250M with Lean Six Sigma

In 2013, Sime Darby recorded less than $4 million in savings from Lean Six Sigma. After an overhaul to focus on revenue growth, the program earned $250 million in benefits during the next five years.

Case Study: Use Category Resolution to Assess Gage R&R Results

The fictional Liberty Weights Company undertook gage R&R studies at two facilities. Both produced misleading results because of inaccurate part selection. Category resolution was the solution.

Case Study: Use Six Sigma to Reduce Temporary Labor Expenses

In any plant, when production increases above planned-for levels – whether due to sudden increased demand or unexpected constraints in the system – temporary workers may be brought in as a quick fix. Use Six Sigma to keep temporary labor costs from getting out of hand.

Case Study: Using DFSS and DOE to Increase Product Reliability

A medical devices company launched a substrate development effort using DFSS and DOE to predict the stress caused by the laser welding process and ensure product reliability.

Case Study: Using Logical Thinking Process Tools

In 2010, the finance department of a Fortune 500 company established a quality audit system for the company’s operations. By the end of 2011, however, metrics were not improving.

Case Study: Using Six Sigma in a Non-Six Sigma Culture

In an organization that has not embraced, or even attempted, Six Sigma, adapting continuous improvement tools to be less intimidating can reduce resistance to change and improve the likelihood of successful project completion.

Case Study: Using the 5 Whys to Validate Assumptions

A simple tool, the 5 Whys, helps a business unearth an assumption embedded in its fee collection process. Once the assumption was revealed and tested with data, impressive results ensued.

Champion Training Enhances Lean Six Sigma at Tower Automotive

Tower Automotive has practiced Lean manufacturing and had a continuous improvement department in one form or another since the late 1990s. Even with all of the improvements, however, Tower needed something else to help sustain projects, reduce variation within their systems and improve quality.

Choose the Right Process Improvement Methodology [VIDEO] – With Joe De Feo

Most people know what it means to improve a process, but which improvement methodology is best for your organization: Lean, Six Sigma, theory of constraints, PDCA or some other framework?

Combine an Improvement Initiative with Change Management

New to change management? This overview describes the phases of change management and how they line up with the phases of process improvement.

Competently Use Capability Analysis

Process capability indicates how well a process is able to perform its specified purpose. iSixSigma has gathered its best resources on the subject in one convenient location.

Constructive Discord: The Role of Conflict in Building High-performance Teams

Conflict is a natural and healthy part of the team-building process. Learn how to properly harness constructive discord to succeed in deploying effective high-performance work teams.

Creating Customer Delight – A Case Study in Diagnostic Clinics: Part 1 of 3

A chain of medical diagnostic clinics was developed from the ground up. After two years of hectic expansion marked by acquisitions and setting up green field clinics across a number of cities, the chain wanted to improve the turnaround time of patients and customer service.

Creating Customer Delight – A Case Study in Diagnostic Clinics: Part 2 of 3

Almost all organizations identify customer satisfaction as an area for improvement and as key to business success. In this installment of a three-part case study in creating customer delight, a medical diagnostic center tackles patient problems identified through observation and feedback.

Creating Customer Delight – A Case Study in Diagnostic Clinics: Part 3 of 3

In the final installment of this three-part case study, a medical diagnostic clinic reduces the turnaround time of lab reports, improving cycle time for 90 percent of blood tests and increasing customer satisfaction.

Customizing Process Improvement for Financial Services

Companies in financial services can find ample opportunities for process improvement, but traditional improvement methodologies and tools need to be customized to target the specific challenges of financial services.

Design of Experiments to Optimize Any Process or Product [VIDEO] – With Mark Kiemele

Design of experiments (DOE) is one of those specialized and sophisticated tools you should have in your toolbox. It is a technique to optimize any process or product better, faster and cheaper than other optimization methods, including A/B testing (also known as OFAT or one-factor-at-a-time) and "expert" guessing.

Developing Key Performance Indicators

KPIs are critical to ensuring a project team has the performance data it needs to evaluate and sustain improvements.

DFSS Case Study: Optimizing Haptics for Sensory Feedback

Using DFSS, a high-tech company explored the use of haptics to provide gentle vibration with wearable devices (such as a necklace) for the highest successful notification rate.

DMADV Case Study: Performance Management System Redesign

In this DMADV case study, a large financial-services company revamped its entire performance management system through a Design for Six Sigma project.

DMAIC Case Study: Accuracy of System-generated Service Routes

In this case study, a leading environmental services company used DMAIC to improve the accuracy of system-generated transportation routes for efficiently reaching its geographically dispersed customers.

DMAIC Case Study: Improving System Availability

A leading environmental services company used DMAIC to improve the availability of an internal software system. The goal was to reduce system downtime and reduce defect resolution time, thereby increasing return on investment and user satisfaction.

Drive Improvements in Outbound Telesales with Lean Six Sigma: Part 1 of 2

Outbound telesales is a process full of waste, poor design and variation that is ripe for the application of improvement tools. Not only can process quality be improved, but also revenue can be increased.

Drive Improvements in Outbound Telesales with Lean Six Sigma: Part 2 of 2

Outbound telesales is a process full of waste, poor design and variation that is ripe for the application of improvement tools. Not only can process quality be improved, but also revenue can be increased.

Effectively Manage Data for Contact Centers

Using a telecom example, this article examines the role of data in contact centers for managing the customer experience.

Eight Steps for Operational Excellence in the Office

The principles and guidelines of operational excellence enable a business to design the way an office functions so information flows from activity to activity along fixed pathways at preset, predefined times.

Enhancing GRPI with the Nominal Group and Delphi Techniques

GRPI is used for building high-performing teams. By combining it with nominal group and Delphi techniques, GRPI can also help sustain the high performance of teams.

Five Simple Steps to Project Certification Success

For many organizations, Lean Six Sigma certification requires a Green Belt or Black Belt to present and defend their project to a panel of experts. Whether you are preparing for a project presentation as the final step to achieve certification or simply as a routine part of closing a project, the five tips provided here will be sure to help.

FLEXcon: Lean for the Long Run

FLEXcon is a global manufacturer of pressure-sensitive films and adhesives with sales of $300 million annually and more than 1,000 employees; the company is also committed to continual improvement.

Four Questions to Address As a Lean Six Sigma Business Matures

As a business matures in its deployment of LSS, four questions emerge that deserve attention at all levels of the organization.

Gemba Walks Come to Life at Fairbanks Morse Engine

Three examples of gemba walks at Fairbanks Morse Engine demonstrate the importance of the sometimes-overlooked basics of process improvement.

Getting the Most out of a Capability Analysis

Many articles describe the difference between the process capability indices simply: one is short term, one is long term. Moving beyond such a description, this article focuses on the untapped power of capability analysis and shows you how to use them to your advantage.

Give Your Elevator Speech a Lift

An elevator speech done well should communicate the core elements of an improvement project and outline the need for change – all in 60 to 120 seconds.

Go Beyond Control Chart Limitations to Predict and Improve Processes

Control chart stability (CCS) is not always needed for either predictions or baseline estimates for process improvement. By recognizing the limitations of CCS, better prediction methods can be used that require less effort.

Grabbing Hold of the GRPI Model

GRPI (goals, roles and responsibilities, process, and interpersonal skills) is used to monitor the factors critical to team development in a structured way – and act on these factors throughout the project.

Green Belt Project: Reduce Resolution Time and Rework in Software Development

This article describes a successful Green Belt project in information technology in which a software development team applied Six Sigma to reduce the resolution time of software defects and minimize rework, thereby increasing customer satisfaction.

Heijunka: The Art of Leveling Production

When implemented correctly, heijunka elegantly – and without haste – helps organizations meet demand while reducing while reducing wastes in production and interpersonal processes.

High-performance Teams: Understanding Team Cohesiveness

A common characteristic seen in high-performance teams is cohesiveness, a measure of the attraction of the group to its members (and the resistance to leaving it). Those in cohesive teams are more cooperative and effective in achieving the goals they set for themselves.

How Do Organizations Sustain Improvements? Control!

Lean Six Sigma can have a major positive impact on organizations. Without appropriate control measures, however, improvements are unlikely to be maintained.

How to Avoid Common Mistakes in Linear Regression

Applying regression requires special attention from the analyst. Each process step needs to be carefully examined and executed; a small mistake may lead to an erroneous model. This article describes some common mistakes made in regression and their corresponding remedies.

How to Avoid The Evils Within Customer Satisfaction Surveys

There is no limit to the misunderstanding, abuse, wrong interpretations, wasted resources, poor management and employee dissatisfaction that may result from improperly used customer satisfaction surveys. Learn to avoid these problems and capture valuable customer feedback.

How to Create a Successful FMEA Program

If one or two FMEAs can produce exceptional results, imagine the benefits possible if use of the technique were expanded enterprise-wide. Learn how best to manage this expansion and get tips for making each FMEA project successful.

How to Develop a Lean Six Sigma Deployment Plan [VIDEO] – With Gary Cone

Starting a Lean or Six Sigma initiative at your organization is no easy task. The task is easier, however, when you build a comprehensive deployment plan. In this video, you will learn everything you need to know about a successful Lean or Six Sigma deployment plan.

How to Encourage Green Belts

Coaching Green Belts is a primary responsibility of most Black Belts, and can sometimes be more challenging than the technical work. Learn the steps that a BB can take to encourage GBs – even those who may not want to be GBs – and keep projects on track.

How to Explain and Understand Process Capability

Have you ever tried to explain the concept of process capability to someone and received a blank stare in return? Try using an analogy of driving different vehicle types on a highway under construction to explain the topic more easily.

How to Improve Project Cycle Time

These 10 "just do it" items can help your organization speed up the rate of project completion and improve performance quickly.

How to Poka-yoke CAD Drawings

The goal of poka-yoke is to design a process or mechanism that prevents an error from occurring. In the world of machine and industrial design, CAD systems are one of the best forms of poka-yoke available.

How to Win Support for Continuous Improvement Programs and Projects

Gaining support to implement and sustain a continuous improvement program is an oft-voiced concern of Lean Six Sigma practitioners. Learn three keys for successfully gaining buy-in.

How to Write an Effective Problem Statement

In continuous improvement, as with most things, the devil is in the details, and one of those “little devils” that often gets overlooked is the need to construct an effective problem statement at the start of any improvement project.

Improving Outbound Calling Conversion Rates

To improve the success of marketing phone calls to registered but unfunded customers, Internet betting exchange Betfair launched a Six Sigma project.

Improving the Productivity of a Service Team

In the growing service economy where human resources are the biggest driver of costs in an organization, companies want to get the maximum return from their employees. This case study follows a DMAIC project to maximize the productivity of a BPM application support team.

Increase Lean Six Sigma’s Power with TOC and Systems Thinking

In order to achieve maximum and consistent returns with Lean Six Sigma, combine LSS with systems thinking and TOC into a single continuous improvement approach.

Integrate Values into Business Processes

By expanding the definition of business process effectiveness to include the expectation that the business process design reflects an organization’s values, the emergence of the new culture is supported.

Introducing Agile Sigma

Agile Sigma is a new business process improvement methodology that integrates the best of both Six Sigma and Agile to enable businesses to deliver improved processes more quickly and effectively.

Introducing the E3P3 Process Improvement Methodology

Taking up where PDCA leaves off, the E<sup>3</sup>P<sup>3</sup> cycle is made up of six steps: Evaluate, Evolve, Execute, Perfect, Progress, and Preach and practice.

Jabil Is Wired to Work

In only two years, Jabil has launched a Lean Six Sigma program that spans the company’s 60 plants in 29 countries. The company’s goal: To create a workforce of problem solvers.

Kaizen – ADHD Therapy Using Continuous Improvement: Tools to Keep Employees Continuously Occupied

Tools to Keep Employees Continuously Occupied | This article describes what a Kaizen event is and addresses how to run successful Kaizen events.

Keep It Super Simple: Five Steps of KISS

Complex topics can be fully understood by everyone when practitioners adhere to the principle of "keep it super simple," or KISS.

Leadership and Lean Six Sigma

Is leadership from the bottom-up better than top-down? How can employees convince and excite their leaders about the opportunities waiting for them with a Lean Six Sigma deployment?

Lean Implementation for IT Company

An information technology services company was engaged to provide end-to-end testing for a telecom provider's five lines of business. Each business line had its own way of operating. The company chose to apply Lean in order to reduce waste in these processes.

Lean Increases Small Team Effectiveness Three-fold [VIDEO] – With Jim Benson

Implementing the Lean methodology in small teams can have enormous benefit, in one case increasing team effectiveness, as measured by throughput, by 200 percent to 300 percent. Other benefits include better communication (both internally and to the entire organization), improved employee moral, improved work output and increased customer satisfaction.

Lean Six Sigma Blended Learning for Your Business [VIDEO] – With John Best

In this interview, you will learn how companies as diverse as Seagate, Monsanto, the Department of Defense and CapitalOne have implemented blended learning for their Lean and Six Sigma programs.

Lean Six Sigma Certification

Do I need to be certified? Which company or organization should certify me? Is there a single certification standard? Does experience outweigh a need for certification?

Lean Six Sigma Online Training and Certification Due Diligence [VIDEO]

How do you figure out if an online Lean Six Sigma training and certification course is useful and worthwhile? Learn from four industry experts who discuss critical issues facing students evaluating training and certification options.

Lean Six Sigma Predictions for 2013

What will be the hot topics and areas of interest for operational excellence in 2013? We asked Lean Six Sigma leaders for their predictions.

Lean Six Sigma Predictions for 2013 – Follow Up

In January iSixSigma asked Lean Six Sigma (LSS) leaders about their predictions for the hot topics and areas of interest for operational excellence in 2013. Ten months later we checked in to see how close their predictions hit the mark.

Lean Six Sigma Predictions for 2014

What will be the hot topics and areas of interest for operational excellence in 2014? We asked Lean Six Sigma (LSS) leaders for their predictions. Thank you for big picture predictions, personal proclamations and strategies to consider in the year ahead.

Lean Start-up: A Cycle of Continuous Evolution

In the movement known as Lean start-up, a new enterprise starts with an idea about what customers want, not an idea for a product. Quick iterations that incorporate learnings from customer conversations with each iteration, rather than elaborate up-front product planning, lead a business to success.

Leverage Six Sigma to Manage Operational Risk in Financial Services

To escape from post-financial crisis times, financial services companies need to effectively and efficiently manage their risks. This article showcases how financial services can leverage FMEA and control charts to manage their operational risk and reduce costs.

Manage Control Limits When Implementing Statistical Process Control

Learn how best to introduce statistical process control in an existing production environment where not all processes are in control and fully capable.

Manage Project Performance with EVM and Control Charts

This article describes how earned value management (EVM) indexes and control charts may be used in tangent to capture more insight from project performance.

Managing to Standard Work in the Office

Fairbanks Morse Engine had to swallow a tough message from its customers: You are too slow and we are not going to take it anymore!Direct observation of the customer service staff revealed a consistent pattern of interruptions – 70 percent of the time they were unable to convert an order without interruption.

Mastering the Use of SIPOC

One of the most popular search terms on is SIPOC (suppliers, inputs, process, output and customers), a process mapping tool. The reverse of SIPOC, COPIS (customer, output, process, input, supplier) is also a frequently searched tool.

Measurement System Redesign and Innovative Data Management

A multi-national paper company wanted to reduce its cost of poor quality. The company recognized an opportunity to use Six Sigma concepts to minimize variability in its processes.

Meet Tomorrow’s Challenges with Future-ready Reengineering

Nobody knows what the future holds, but a shared uncertainty about tomorrow creates a forward-leaning opportunity for reinvention. Future-ready reengineering helps companies move from doing what is most effective today to meeting tomorrow’s challenges.

Motivate Champions as a Peer Group

The key to creating good project Champions is to manage and motivate the peer group rather than the individuals.

MSA: Be Sure that Your Data Is Valid

Data is the lifeblood of Lean Six Sigma. But that data must be measured reliably. Be sure to choose the right method to validate your data.

Multivariate Control Charts: T2 and Generalized Variance

Applying univariate control charts is possible but inefficient – and can lead to erroneous conclusions – when working with more than one process variable. Instead, use multivariate control charts.

Of Processes and Project Baselines: Why Homogeneity Matters

Before proceeding with probability models, inference or descriptive statistics, the question of homogeneity – whether a collection of observations can be assumed to have come from one population – must first be addressed.

Optimize Attribute Responses Using Design of Experiments

The objective of a design of experiments is to optimize the value of a response variable by changing the values of the factors that affect the response. This article explains how to analyze an attribute type of response (e.g., pass/fail, accept/reject, etc.).

Organizational Process Flow: A River of Possibilities

Organizational flow is like a river with many branches. It runs downstream from its source until it reaches the ocean. Opportunities for improvement can be found anywhere in the flow of either the main channel or the tributaries.

Overview of Effective Survey Design

Surveys are everywhere, but many are not well designed. Learn about the theory behind creating a survey to ensure you are developing the best surveys you can.

Predicting Code Inspection Faults

The goal of code inspection is to identify software faults early in the software development lifecycle, but it is not always known if those inspections are effective. A prediction model can be applied to evaluate this process and refine the achieved quality level.

Process Capability – Surface Finish Example: Part 2

In Part 2 we look at failure rates and material conditions for a surface finish example.

Process Capability – The Basics: Part 1

In Part 1, we explore the concept of process capability, including how to calculate it and what to do with non-normal data. 

Process Documentation – A Modern Approach

Traditional process flowcharting covers the sequence of events in a process by including all the exceptions. In a more contemporary approach, flowcharts present the desired flow of the process without those exceptions.

Project Examples from an LSS Deployment for Cultural Transformation

By implementing a strategy to support common tools, thinking and language across the enterprise, a business is laying the groundwork required for a sustainable continuous improvement culture. 

Project Selection That Benefits the Entire Business

A nine-step business management system drives improvement projects that will enhance key performance indicators and thereby benefit the business as a whole.

Readying Middle Management for Culture Change at Bosch

Middle management is a broad and diverse segment of any organization that must be engaged deliberately to ensure a culture of change is able not only to survive, but to thrive.

Reap a Return on Investment

The best ROI references on iSixSigma can be found here.

Reduce a Change Request Process Cycle Time by 50 Percent

This article describes a DMAIC (Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, Control) improvement project – including key deliverables, challenges and how the challenges were met – in which a company's change-request cycle time needed to be reduced by half to meet the requirements of the customers.

Reduce Special-cause Variation Before Experimentation

A fully-automated plastic drinking cup production line used excessive amounts of raw materials (plastic PET pellets) due to a wide distribution in the weight of the formed cups. A Six Sigma project team was created to reduce weight distribution variability.

Reducing Waste on Chicken Nugget Line – Part 1 of 2

Kahiki Foods had extreme amounts of daily waste on their chicken nugget lines. The daily amount of waste on the line averaged 4,976 pounds – more than Kahiki’s two other major product lines combined.

Reducing Waste on Chicken Nugget Line – Part 2 of 2

This is Part Two of a two-part article about Kahiki Foods' extreme amounts of daily waste on their chicken nugget lines. Part Two follows the completion of the project – the Analyze, Improve and Control phases.

Reducing WIP at a Frozen Food Manufacturer – Part 1 of 2

Part 1 of how a DMAIC project reduced costly work in process at Kahiki Foods, a manufacturer of Asian frozen foods.

Reducing WIP at a Frozen Food Manufacturer – Part 2 of 2

Part 2 of how a DMAIC project reduced costly work in process at Kahiki Foods, a manufacturer of Asian frozen foods.

Reporting Format for Hypothesis Testing

By following a consistent reporting format, a Six Sigma team and its customers can better understand and explain hypothesis test results and conclusions.

Research: 10th Annual iSixSigma Global Salary Survey Highlights

In the 10 years that iSixSigma has produced its Global Salary Survey, the world has undergone sweeping changes including natural disasters, the collapse of economies and the release of the iPhone. Throughout all of these developments, Six Sigma has remained a source of inspiration and progress for thousands of companies.

Research: 11th Annual iSixSigma Global Salary Survey Highlights

How has Six Sigma compensation changed over the last year? Find out in the 11th Annual iSixSigma Global Salary Survey.

Research: 9th Annual iSixSigma Global Salary Survey Highlights

According to this year’s Annual iSixSigma Global Salary Survey, most Six Sigma professionals saw an increase in average salary over previous years.

Research: Black Belt Return on Investment

In our most recent research study, we look at Black Belt project pay-offs, where companies are targeting their Lean Six Sigma efforts and the validity of financial results.

Research: Six Sigma Certification

In this research study, iSixSigma looks at Six Sigma certification – who is being certified, what was required in order to be certified, why people choose to be certified and much more.

Resource Page: 5S

Standardized work is a basic tenet of process improvement, and 5S can be the foundation on which to achieve that goal. iSixSigma has gathered its best resources on the topic here.

Resource Page: A Primer on Non-normal Data

The distribution of data can be categorized in two ways: normal and non-normal. Non-normal data does not tend toward a central value. It can be skewed left or right, or follow no particular pattern.

Resource Page: Change Management

A successful change management strategy can be the most important aspect of a Lean Six Sigma initiative. iSixSigma has gathered its best resources on the topic here.

Resource Page: How to Learn Lean Six Sigma

Individuals have options for learning new skills at the place they prefer and in the way they prefer: in-person, online or blended (a combination of classroom and online).

Resource Page: Kaizen

Kaizen is a Japanese term that means continuous improvement. iSixSigma has gathered its best resources on Kaizen here.

Resource Page: Plan, Do, Check, Act or PDCA

The PDCA cycle is a four-step management model for continuous improvement and learning: plan, do, check and act. iSixSigma has gathered its best resources on PDCA here.

Resource Page: Pugh Matrix

Decision making can be complex, but the Pugh matrix helps organize the assessment of possible solutions against customer requirements. iSixSigma has gathered its best resources on the topic here.

Resource Page: Takt Time

Takt time helps a company match production with customer demand. iSixSigma has gathered its best resources on the topic here.

Resource Page: The Basics of Total Quality Management

One of the most popular search terms on is total quality management (TQM). The best TQM references on iSixSigma can be found here.

Resource Page: The Whys and Wherefores of the 5 Whys

In the context of process improvement, the 5 Whys is an qualitative approach to root cause analysis. Analysis using the 5 Whys is typically performed by a team, requires no special statistical knowledge and makes the most of the collective knowledge of a team. And it is as simple as continuing to ask “Why?”

Resource Page: Value Stream Mapping

Value stream mapping (VSM) is a flowchart method to track a product or service as it makes its way to the customer. iSixSigma has gathered its best resources on VSM here.

Root Cause Analysis, Ishikawa Diagrams and the 5 Whys

Root cause analysis (RCA) may be limited to brainstorming and not fully thought-through ideas. Incorporate Ishikawa diagrams along with the 5 Whys in order to maximize your RCA efforts.

Run Charts: A Simple and Powerful Tool for Process Improvement

Among other benefits, a run chart is used to determine whether the central tendency of a process is changing. Learn step-by-step how to create and then interpret a run chart.

Seeing Opportunity Through 3-DMAIC Glasses

The pre-DMAIC timeframe is a critical part of process improvement. Incorporating Discover and Decide phases into DMAIC projects can help Belts move forward with the right initiatives.

Seeking the Causes of Variation

Not all variation is created equal. Planned variation, like that in an experiment, is a process improvement strategy. Unplanned variation, however, is nearly always bad.

Short-Run Statistical Process Control Techniques

In a low-volume, high-mix situation, an entire production run can be fewer parts than are required to start a standard control chart. Standard SPC methods can be modified to work with small runs.

SIPOC: Beyond Process Mapping

The Six Sigma tool SIPOC is used to map processes at a high level. SIPOC diagrams are typically included as a slide in project presentations accompanied by a perfunctory description. There are, however, more benefits to be gained.

Six Anchors to Make Change Stick

Change, like anything, is a process. All processes must have components that anchor them in place. To make change stick, Black Belts should follow these six critical anchors.

Six Lessons for Deploying a BPM Workflow Product in a Transactional Environment

With limited visibility of tasks and plenty of room for non-standardized methods, transactional processes can be a challenge to manage. Here are six lessons for building a BPM workflow to improve a transactional operation.

Six Qualities of Successful Green Belts

Everyone can contribute to continuous improvement efforts, but the Green Belt role is not for everyone. Follow these six essential qualities when selecting Green Belts.

Six Sigma Black Belt Curriculum and Body of Knowledge – 2012

Black Belts should be Six Sigma experts – capable of leading a team of process experts in applying the methodology and corresponding tools to any process in any industry.

Six Sigma Master Black Belt Body of Knowledge – 2013

This article addresses the minimum technical knowledge that a Master Black Belt should possess beyond the topics already defined for Black Belts.

Six Sigma Takes a Swing: Making More Hits in Baseball [VIDEO] – With Roger Hart

Why hasn't baseball seen a .400 hitter since 1941? Roger Hart solved this problem with Six Sigma, producing a more than 30 percent improvement in hitting.

Six Steps to Effectively Plan for Lean Six Sigma Efforts

Follow these six steps to successfully launch – and maintain – a continuous improvement program.

Solving Decreasing Sales With Lean Six Sigma

Online retailer ABC has a strong market research unit and a seamless feedback loop for enhancing the customer experience. Despite the company's seeming responsiveness to customer feedback, sales had dropped significantly in the last few years. An external Lean Six Sigma consultant was invited by the CEO to guide ABC in improving their declining sales.

Strategies for Better Facilitation and Team Problem Solving

How many times has it felt like there are great team dynamics in the conference room but when it comes time to execute change, no one acts? Learn strategies for greater team engagement as well as common pitfalls to avoid.

Successful LSS Projects Start with Proper Metric Selection

Definition of a primary project metric is key to focusing an improvement team on the needs of both the customer and the business, and to providing accurate statistical and financial results. The XYZ Company is quickly losing sales of a chemical product as measured by market share. They evaluated three options before selecting their primary project metric.

Supplement FMEA with a Risk Priority Matrix for Better Results

In the classic FMEA model, mitigation activities are prioritized based on the calculated risk priority number. But FMEA doesn't account for interdependent risks, or mitigation actions that can affect multiple risks. Learn a method for overcoming these limitations.

TaaG Analysis – Fast and Easy for Comparing Trends in Large Data Sets

TaaG (trends at a glance) analysis can quickly guide a Six Sigma practitioner toward the root causes of issues without having to crunch unmanageable numbers of data sets.

The 3 Most Important Practices for Achieving Process Excellence [VIDEO] – With Lee Pollock

This interview with Lee Pollock describes the three most important practices for achieving the results you expect from your process excellence program.

The Agreement Process: 3 Steps to Achieve Buy-in

Improve your chances of gaining buy-in by following this three-step agreement process.

The Five Challenges of Standard Work for Knowledge Workers

There are five challenges to make standard work effective in any organization. If these challenges are appropriately addressed, standard work is easy to deploy and generally well accepted.

The Five Fundamental Assumptions of Six Sigma

Six Sigma can be reduced to five fundamental assumptions. If these simple concepts are understood, all the tools, all the tollgate deliverables, and all the statistics and jargon are put in their proper supporting roles.

The Fundamentals of Cause-and-effect (aka Fishbone) Diagrams

A popular means for identifying the causes of a particular problem, or effect, is the aptly named cause-and-effect diagram. As the completed graphic resembles the bones of a fish, it is also commonly referred to as a “fishbone” diagram.

The Harada Method: Reduce the Eighth Waste – Part 1 of 2

The Harada method helps individuals achieve self-reliance that in turn facilitates a company’s process improvement journey. This week’s article provides an overview of the method and its genesis.

The Lean Six Sigma Deployment in Tyler, Texas

The City of Tyler, Texas, launched a Lean Six Sigma program in 2008. Six years later, they have completed more than 100 projects and saved more than $6 million.

The Many Sides of a Gemba Walk

Gemba walks at Fairbanks Morse Engine demonstrate the importance of the sometimes-overlooked basics of process improvement.

The Secret to Leadership? Enable Joy

W. Edwards Deming said that a leader's job is to enable joy. Learn what that means and the three steps that will help you successfully lead a team - even if you aren't the boss.

Three Steps to Deliver Business Results

Strategy with no action is just an idea; action with no strategy is anarchy. This article explores the three essential steps, and common pitfalls to avoid, for achieving business results.

Tri-State Industries Grows with Lean Manufacturing

Tri-State Industries uses Lean to improve the processes of its trailer product line, which is challenged by mix, volume spikes and aggressive lead time expectations.

U.S.A.F. Uses Continuous Process Improvement on the B-2 Bomber: Part 1

In this case study, the 509th Maintenance Group of the U.S. Air Force used an eight-step continuous process improvement approach to balance its resources and meet both flying hour program requirements and aircraft availability needs.

U.S.A.F. Uses Continuous Process Improvement on the B-2 Bomber: Part 2

In this case study, the 509th Maintenance Group of the U.S. Air Force used an eight-step continuous process improvement approach to balance its resources and meet both flying hour program requirements and aircraft availability needs.

Understand the Difference Between Verification and Validation

In simulations, verification and validation are not interchangeable. Verification confirms that a model is doing what the modeler intended it to do when it was created, while the validation process helps a modeler be certain the correct model was built. Neglect one or the other at the risk of misguided results.

Understanding First Time and Rolled Throughput Yields

There are two ways to calculate the yield from a process: first time and rolled throughput. Look hard at the way you calculate yield and how you use the results.

Understanding Process Sigma Level

The sigma level of a process indicates how many standard deviations fit within the upper and lower specification limits. This article describes how to calculate process sigma level, its relationship to defect rate, and what the long-term mean shift is.

Understanding Statistical Process Control [VIDEO] – With Eduardo Santiago

Knowing whether a process is in control and stable is paramount to producing a product or service that meets customer needs. In this hour-long Minitab training course, Eduardo Santiago covers many useful topics related to statistical process control.

Use “Light” Lean Six Sigma When the Textbook Approach Is Not Possible

When it is not possible to follow a textbook LSS project, using applicable individual tools can be as rewarding as applying the whole framework. 

Use a Classification and Regression Tree (CART) for Quick Data Insights

A nonparametric technique, CART employs a "divide and conquer" partitioning approach to explain a continuous or categorical dependent variable in terms of multiple independent variables.

Use Earned Value Management for Process Improvement

To identify issues in a process without losing time by deep diving into the complete process, use earned value management (EVM) to measure cost and schedule compared to budget.

Use Monte Carlo Simulation to Manage Schedule Risk

Monte Carlo simulation provides a probabilistic analysis of a project schedule, helping project managers make the best decisions to keep work on track.

Use Multiple Process Improvement Methodologies to Strengthen Results

The complementary nature of process improvement methodologies gives the practitioner an enhanced ability to solve many different problem sets.

Use Realistic Tolerancing and Poka-yoke for Process Control

An organization had a limited capital budget but needed to ensure its product was safely delivered in its own packaging. The organization used poka-yoke and realistic tolerancing to control its process improvements.

Using Censored Data in Transactional Processes

Failure rate analysis using censored data can be helpful not only helpful in setting product warranty periods, but also in transactional processes to determine, for instance, if a pending sales contract is likely to result in an order.

Using Control Charts or Pre-control Charts

Many quality professionals have declared that pre-control charts have gone the way of the Dodo bird. Before writing them off, however, learn more about pre-control charts and how they compare to control (or Shewhart) charts.

Using OEE Metrics for All Process Steps

Production time can be consumed by various planned and unplanned activities. Formally detailing these times can yield valuable insight into why so many hours must be consumed to generate a given amount of work.

Using the R-Squared Statistic in ANOVA and General Linear Models

While Black Belts often make use of R-Squared in regression models, many ignore or are unaware of its function in ANOVA models or GLMs. Input variables may then be overvalued, which may not lead to a significant improvement in the Y.

VOC: Comparing Reactive Data and Proactive Data

When collecting voice of the customer (VOC), there are generally two types of data: reactive and proactive. Understanding these categories enables companies to understand what information VOC data can offer.

What Is Lean Six Sigma [VIDEO] – With Rick Murrow

The most common Lean Six Sigma questions are asked and answered, including: How do you describe Lean Six Sigma from a 50,000-foot level, what results can be expected from implementing Lean Six Sigma, and how is Lean Six Sigma different from TQM or other process improvement methodologies?

When and How to Use Plackett-Burman Experimental Design

Plackett-Burman experimental designs are used to identify the most important factors early in the experimentation phase when complete knowledge about the system is usually unavailable. They allow practitioners to screen for the important factors that influence process output measures or product quality, using as few experimental runs as possible.

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