iSixSigma

Anna O'Connell

Forum Replies Created

Forum Replies Created

Viewing 13 posts - 1 through 13 (of 13 total)
  • Author
    Posts
  • #117020

    Anna O’Connell
    Participant

    Hi Alan –
    While I disagree with some of what you say, I think you are right on in noting that it is impossible to inspect quality into a product.  However,  on both 6 Sigma and the Brits, you are slandering at least a few people who I know deserve better. 
    Back in the 1980’s, when  6 Sigma was being invented, Motorola was also very actively pursuing the “Design for Assembly” methodology, which was originated and popularized by Geoff Boothroyd and Peter Dewhurst, a pair of Brits.  But, like many prophets, they had not been sufficiently honored (with profits) in their own country, and so came to the United States.  I became a Ford Motor DFA Specialist and one of the reps to Boothroyd and Dewhurst’s  ?University of Rhode Island “corporate advisory committee” in 1988
    Based on the reports from Motorola staff who were active in the DFA program at the time , the DFA people and training for the engineers (delivered via Motorola University) were added to / combined with the 6 Sigma initiative with especial attention to design efforts.  The reason they gave for this, more than once, and in multiple forums, was that Motorola just couldn’t break through a “quality barrier” around 4.5 – 5 sigma UNLESS they re-designed the product to 1) minimize the number of separate parts (ie. minimize pyhsical interfaces where variation affects functionality) and 2) minimize the products’ sensitivity to inherent process variation. 
    But this takes time, and effort, and training for lots of people.  It also absolutely requires that the designers get clued in to what variations are inherent to the various processes which will be used, and what the process capability really is.  Whan I left Ford, almost 3 years ago now, the people in Ford’s 6 Sigma office were just beginning to get the data that was going to lead them to the same conclusion experienced at Motorola 10 years earlier.  You can’t get 6 Sigma quality by addressing and improving ONLY process variation.  You must also design (or re-design) the product to be as immune as possible to process variation.
    On the other hand, to be fair to the finance folks, you also cannot wait for your entire product line to be re-designed and released to realize cost savings and quality improvements.  You’d be long out of business. 
    Anna O’Connell                                                                                                          (The once and future Annonymous!)
     

    0
    #96012

    Anna O’Connell
    Participant

    Hi Mman –
    I don’t want people to inadvertently start new careers in Six Sigma. And I remain neutral about people deliberately wanting to become Six Sigma practioners doing so out of their own pocket.  It makes for an uncomfortable existence, being an agent of change without portfolio or authorization from your company’s top management.
     I would prefer that all designers learn about such things as manufacturing processes (for identifying KPIV or Key Process Input Variables) and statistical tolerancing as early in their careers as possible.  But designers have their own jobs to do and don’t necessarily also want to become Six Sigma practioners at whatrever belt level.
    I have a seperate complaint about designers (or design engineers or consultants or …) who become Black Belts and practice DMAIC (see John’s comments below in this thread) while remaining clueless regarding the manufacturing processes and process inter-relationships they are trying to improve.  And sometimes they’re even proud of it. But that is a different issue, and doesn’t apply to Kathleen, no matter what career path she wishes to pursue.
    Anna O’C

    0
    #95955

    Anna O’Connell
    Participant

    Dear Kathleen –
    You say you have “a great knowledge of how products are made”.  I commend you for recognizing the importance of understanding the manufacturing process to being a skillful designer.   
    6 Sigma knowledge sure can’t hurt, but, in 6 Sigma terms being able to do the “flowdown” and select which “little x’s” are most significant in determining the value of your current “Y”  in Y = F (x1, x2, x3,…) requires detailed and “deep” understanding of how the variables affect the results and each other.  This is the biggest gap in knowledge or understanding I encounter in most members of most  6 Sigma teams, and this is, in my (experienced and considered) opinion the place where the assistance of consultants is least likely to help you out of the hole.  Sometimes, by luck or planning, the consultant has deep process knowledge about your processes and can help the team past their own lack of knoweldge or understanding.  
    When the designer understands clearly what processes  will be used to produce the product and what the product must do to please a customer, that designer can do a far better job in making the design decisions (tolerances, locations, coordinate axes) that will produce high quality, high yield manufacturing of a product that works well.
    6 Sigma (or Design for 6 Sigma) tools help teams clarify and quantify the relationships among those variables, but if you must investigate ALL the variables that might be relevant, you’ll be running expensive DOEs forever, rather than saying “these 3 are the most important variables, and these other 2 may be involved in that function.”   However, learning about these tools well enough to lead your teams through them could produce a whole different career direction for you.  Or it could be a way to make the design teams you manage be the very best in their industry, whatever industry you work in.
    Don’t expect to get direct payback right away from your investment in 6 Sigma training, unless you do take a different career path. Best of luck, whatever you decide.
    Anna O’Connell

    0
    #95230

    Anna O’Connell
    Participant

    Thanks, Freeman for a marvelous model of a problem-solving process almost guaranteed to take longer and cost more than the problem you are solving!  This is a classic bit of irony, right?  
    May I quote you in an op/ed piece on the process my local school board is using to solicit “community concerns”.  In that instance, all the small groups of concerned citizens have volunteer “trained facilitators” who are school district employees, all the questions and possible answers are defined in advance.
    Anna O’C

    0
    #94504

    Anna O’Connell
    Participant

    I have an MBA degree, and I partially agree with Statman.  Almost all MBA courses give you AT BEST some tools that you can use to eventually gain “in depth knowledge of business processes”.  The MBA, like the BS degree in most technical disciplines, says you have mastered certain types of analysis.  It doesn’t say that you’ve ever successfully analysed anything as complex as a real process, with significant pyhsical, political, cultural and organizational interactions.  It says you’ve done well enough with (simplified for clarity!) case write ups, textbook problems and simulations. 
    The map is very definately NOT the territory.  This is as true for statistical models as it is for financial, value stream, data flow or cultural ones.
    Anna O’C

    0
    #94502

    Anna O’Connell
    Participant

    I’m disappointed, Stan.  I rely on you for my 6 Sigma related cynical humor!
    I would have thought you could come up with something, even if you had to start with formulaic approaches like: “How many Balanced Scorecards witll it take to return our company to profitability ?” 
    Anna O’C
    P.S. The answer, of course, is “None.  Balanced Scorecards are results reports, a way to see ‘what happened’.  It is the actions we take, and their effect on our customers’ satisfaction that will determine the fate of our company.  “

    0
    #94358

    Anna O’Connell
    Participant

    Hi  Manu and Tim –
    The process of interest should be not teaching, but learning.  I would begin by developing a FMEA on the process of learning, assuming that you had each (or the teachers as a group) defined what it was that you were trying to teach the students being studied.   I would also apply to a psychometrician for assistance in doing an MSA on the test(s) I will use to gage learning. But that’s a whole ‘nother major project (though an issue dear to my heart). Talk about a narrow focus – psychometricians are statisticians/psychologists who focus on the repeatability, reproducibility and reliability of tests / examinations given to humans.  Think MBB / PhD level skills focusing JUST on doing MSA’s for testing. 
    The most frequent failure I see in learning (from my work with GB’s, BB’s, project team memebers and my kids)  is insufficient prior preparation of the student for the work.  So one way to reduce failures due to this “root cause” is to clearly define what the student needs to know  beforehand in order to learn what you are teaching.  Entry to the class / learning situation should be conditioned on having (recently!!) passed a test showing they can apply this required knowledge.  Be careful not to set your standards unreasonably tight – you will reject too many students for irrelevant reasons.
    Another major cause of failures is the student discovering that they do not like/ enjoy / experience intellectual pleasure from learning and practicing the knowledge and skills being taught. This can cause students to argue with or discount the advice of teachers, can cause them to work half-heartedly, without true effort, or can cause then to just quit coming to classes.  To prevent most dropouts and failures at the college/university/professional school level, you have to improve the process of selecting or admitting students.  The students must, in advacne of committing to a course of study have a realistic perception of 1) what they already should know 2) how much work it will require to learn the new material and 3) what their professional life will be like once they’ve learned it and are practicing. 
    Even in the case where a student does not have good prior preparation, if they have strong motivation to learn, almost all teachers will happily direct them to resources to learn the pre-requisites quickly, or will “review” those prerequisites in the class.  The students who really want to learn the material can see clearly that they need A in order to figure out B.  They will work on A as much as they need to, and will rapidly catch up if there are only small holes.
    I’m running out of time, but this is fun / interesting.  I tried to take a similar approach to the “Site Improvement Team” at my eldest son’s school – but they thought this was far too cumbersome to try in the 3 hours / month they wanted to devote to having meetings. 
    Good luck – I’ll be interested to see what others think.
    Anna O’C

    0
    #90567

    Anna O’Connell
    Participant

    Sander – If you would please e-mail me a file or send a URL link where you posted your Shainin Tools Manual, I would appreciate it.  Email is [email protected]
    I’ve used BOB/WOW, Red X / Green Y, and some of the clustering tools, and am interested in learning to apply others.  
    Thanks for offering to share your work. 
    Anna O’C
     

    0
    #90534

    Anna O’Connell
    Participant

    Gee Jim –
    If you own your own business, make your first “learning” project one of reducing variation in a key process for your business.  For recruiting, maybe “handling incoming resumes” or “interviewing hiring managers to elicit key requirements” or any of several possible places where, if you do it better, faster, cheaper than the competition, you generate more money from existing business and/or more business.
    If that doesn’t do it for you, find a community organization you admire or support that needs an improvement consultant – a school, a clinic, a club, a hospital, the local police or fire department – and ask if you can “learn while doing” a project for them at no charge.  You must get the agreeement and support of the head of the organization and the person in who’s area you’ll be doing your project as almost the first steps. 
    Good luck.
     
    Anna O’C

    0
    #90533

    Anna O’Connell
    Participant

    Hi Terry-
    Here’s my $0.02 for what it’s worth to you. I’m formally trained as an engineer, I’m female, and work almost exclusively in manufacturing organizations, often automotive ones, so right now my membership dollars go to:
    Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME), Society of Women Engineers (SWE), Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) and ASQ.  I have in the past been a member of the American Management Association, when I was using their course on Project Management.(And I was a student member while in B-school.)  
    Oh, and I maintain my PE license in my home state; the fee for that is due every other year and just went up by 50% (budget crunch doncha know!). But I haven’t joined NSPE, because I don’t like how they are campaigning for a “Bar Association” type of requirement for engineers. If I was traveling / consulting in more locations, I’d have the license reciprocity for other states to worry about too.
    I’ve been solicited by 3-5 Six Sigma specific organizations, but none of them looked worth it to me.
    Anna O’C
     

    0
    #90508

    Anna O’Connell
    Participant

    Dear SSS –
    Or as they used to say where I worked before – “Failure to plan is planning to fail.” I hate it when people do that. 
    While it did get better over the almost 3 years I was there, Ford started their 6 Sigma program by making almost every mistake on your list, plus a few unique to their (dis)organization structure.  The one that had the most negative impact on me and my projects was encouraging turf and “credit” battles between the folks doing “lean/Ford Production System” and 6 Sigma projects, up through the plant manager/ops manager level. 
    And their project selection process was pretty awful for the first year, got better, then, because of turf battles over who “owned” the BB’s time and headcount, went to even worse.  Huge amounts of time and talent were wasted on local (sub)optimization and political infighting. 
    You have the outline here for a book on  “How Not to Implement 6 Sigma Effectively”.  Are any acquisitions editors reading this list?  Do you want a co-author?  
     Anna O’C

    0
    #90466

    Anna O’Connell
    Participant

    Stan –
    It’s shorthand for an applied combination of Lean Manufacturing (a la Toyota Production System) and Six Sigma.  In LM, you reduce waste.  In SS, you reduce variation (which is also a source of waste).  For a manufacturing orgainzation, it’s usually a good combination, IFF (if and only if) the management is smart enough not to allow turf battles to get started over which methodology gets “credit” for an improvement or which staff group is in control of the combined methodology. 
    Anna O’Connell
     

    0
    #90465

    Anna O’Connell
    Participant

    Thanks to Reigle, Mike and John for the kind words. 
    I think I’ve just adopted John’s suggestion substituting “guerilla” for “terrorist”.  It neatly captures one of the most important points of my  philosophy;  making use of ALL available resources (analysis, statistics, physics/chemistry, problem solving and change leadership tools!) to achieve the objective(s).   Even better if by using these resources, I deny them to the “enemy”.
    Relating to SS vs. TQM, I tend to agree that TQM addresses philosophy first, then specifies methods; while SS begins by requiring top management committment to the methodology without explicitly addressing philosophy.   I can clearly see that one might be a better fit than another for a given organization, and so to the “Which is better?” question, I would give the infamous, all-purpose engineering answer of “That depends.” 
    What it depends on is the answers to at least: “What is it specifically that you want to do? When? For whom? In what physical and organizational environments? At what cost? and Where are you starting from? “
    I will also observe that only the independent consultants and top managers among us realistically have the luxury of choice in this matter. Unless you’re willing to quit your current jobs and only look for new ones only in organizations that support your preferrence.  
    Anna O’Connell                                                                                “Guerilla Product and Process Improvement”

    0
Viewing 13 posts - 1 through 13 (of 13 total)