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Most Recent Articles

Common Success Factors, Uncommon Success in Europe

Common Success Factors, Uncommon Success in Europe

Whether implementing Six Sigma in Munich or Manhattan, Paris or Prague, there are certain common factors that are critical for success.

Six Steps to Effectively Plan for Lean Six Sigma Efforts

Six Steps to Effectively Plan for Lean Six Sigma Efforts

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

A Leadership Roadmap for Managing with Metrics

A Leadership Roadmap for Managing with Metrics

Nine practical steps that focus on facts and data can provide a roadmap for business leaders at all levels on how to use Six Sigma to drive strategy implementation.

Avoid Two Common Mistakes in Measurement System Analysis

Avoid Two Common Mistakes in Measurement System Analysis

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

Understand the Difference Between Verification and Validation

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.

How to Revive Your Lean Six Sigma Deployment

How to Revive Your Lean Six Sigma Deployment

There are some simple steps Belts can take to reinvigorate a wilting deployment in less than a year.

Understanding Permutations and Combinations

Understanding Permutations and Combinations

Permutations are for lists (where order matters) and combinations are for groups (where order doesn’t matter). In other words: A permutation is an ordered combination.

Use Multiple Process Improvement Methodologies to Strengthen Results

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.

Becoming a Master Black Belt in Healthcare

Becoming a Master Black Belt in Healthcare

This article identifies the specific role and tasks of a healthcare Master Black Belt, as well as the required skills, desires and behaviors.

Case Study: 5S in Practice

Case Study: 5S in Practice

This is an example of an implementation of 5S that reduced the time to generate a report from three hours to ten minutes.

Case Study: Increase Revenue by Decreasing Prices

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.

Better Project Management Through Beta Distribution

Better Project Management Through Beta Distribution

By combining the beta distribution, or three-point estimation technique, with basic statistics, Belts can get a better estimate of the time required to complete projects.

Discriminant Analysis Can Minimize Returned Products

Discriminant Analysis Can Minimize Returned Products

It is cheaper to scrap production inside the facility than to be charged for a complete assembly found defective by the customer. Use discriminant analysis to separate those units that are likely to fail as soon as they come off the production line. 

Help for Practitioners Trying to Understand ANOVA Table

Help for Practitioners Trying to Understand ANOVA Table

Using the analysis of variance (ANOVA) procedure for a Six Sigma project requires assessing results from an ANOVA table, which is not always straightforward. There is an easy way for practitioners to understand the ANOVA procedure.

A Macro That Writes Macros

A Macro That Writes Macros

Many macros start with three steps. Start your macro writing process by using a macro that writes macros.

Improving Debt Collection Rate, or How to Gain $865,000

Improving Debt Collection Rate, or How to Gain $865,000

A collection agency was able not only to retain a complaining client's business thanks to a Lean Six Sigma project, but also to use the capability improvements it gained from the project as a selling point with both current and prospective clients.

Quick, Quality Decision-Making Using Six Sigma Tools

Quick, Quality Decision-Making Using Six Sigma Tools

Six Sigma has tools that promote good decision making, which leads to performance improvements that reduce rework and drive benefits to the bottom line faster.

Is This a Six Sigma, Lean or Kaizen Project?

Is This a Six Sigma, Lean or Kaizen Project?

Executives who develop a working knowledge of Six Sigma, Lean and Kaizen are much better prepared to build the right infrastructure and lead their organizations to both financial and human success.

Middle-out Change Is Difficult – But Doable

Middle-out Change Is Difficult – But Doable

When top-down support is not available, mid-level executives who know the power of Six Sigma must take deployment into their own hands. With the right approach, training and leadership, middle-out adoption is possible.

A Lean Approach to Staffing Brings Optimal Performance

A Lean Approach to Staffing Brings Optimal Performance

By completing a Lean assessment in tandem with capacity modeling, an organization can optimize its staff and avoid gaps or surpluses.

DFSS Study: Develop Software to Track Drug Side Effects

DFSS Study: Develop Software to Track Drug Side Effects

In association with the launch of a new drug, DFSS was used to develop a new pharmacovigilance system to capture and analyze observed drug side effects.

Customer Winback Concept Begs for Use of Six Sigma

Customer Winback Concept Begs for Use of Six Sigma

"Customer winback," a common business marketing/sales program aimed at winning back disgruntled customers and then retaining them, is a process that begs for the adoption of Six Sigma practices and techniques.

A Simple Model of a Variance Stable Process

A Simple Model of a Variance Stable Process

Most descriptions of equipment and/or process lifetimes assume that failure rates follow a three-period curve pattern where failures/errors decrease during the improvement period, remain relatively constant and at their lowest levels during the normal operating period, and increase during the wearout period.

QFD Can Help to Create a Robust Request for Proposals

QFD Can Help to Create a Robust Request for Proposals

To be a successful vendor manager, a company must select the right vendor. The house of quality can help make the right choice.

Using Censored Data in Transactional Processes

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.

Deployment Focus: Certifications or Project Benefits?

Deployment Focus: Certifications or Project Benefits?

Which is more important in a Six Sigma deployment –- training or benefits? Six Sigma training, which leads to certifications, is a means to an end. Certifications are the Xs, or the causes, and benefits are the big Y, or the effect.

Attention Six Sigma, You’’re Wanted in Surgery

Attention Six Sigma, You’’re Wanted in Surgery

With the demand for surgical services growing, especially with ambulatory and cosmetic procedures, hospitals continue learning that Six Sigma is a useful tool.

Using DFLSS to Evaluate a New Loan Referral Process

Using DFLSS to Evaluate a New Loan Referral Process

A bank saves resources by evaluating the feasibility of an idea early on, using Design for Lean Six Sigma (DFLSS).

Design of Experiments/Conjoint Analysis in Marketing

Design of Experiments/Conjoint Analysis in Marketing

DOE, known in marketing as conjoint analysis, is a powerful statistical technique for seeing connections between a customer's decision-making process and a product or service.

Black Belt as Mobilizer: Key to Six Sigma Effectiveness

Black Belt as Mobilizer: Key to Six Sigma Effectiveness

To be effective, Black Belts must be able not only to use Six Sigma tools effectively, but also to motivate the right people at the right time in the right way.

DMAIC Helps Agency Craft Green Electronics Plan

DMAIC Helps Agency Craft Green Electronics Plan

In an effort to reduce its environmental footprint, P&R IM implemented an electronics stewardship plan with Lean Six Sigma's DMAIC methodology.

Assessing Forecast Accuracy: Be Prepared, Rain or Shine

Assessing Forecast Accuracy: Be Prepared, Rain or Shine

Practitioners can assess the accuracy of forecasts using control charting and analysis of variance (ANOVA). Screening a corporation's forecasts with these two tools will reveal the evolution of forecast bias and consistency over time.

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

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.

What Makes a Training Program Effective?

What Makes a Training Program Effective?

By analyzing and learning from previous efforts, an organization was able to fine-tune the methods used for training new employees.

Turning Judgment Calls into Reliable Data with Gage R&R

Turning Judgment Calls into Reliable Data with Gage R&R

An often-overlooked tool in the Lean Six Sigma toolbox, Gage R&R can be of immeasurable help in improving data reliability when improving transactional processes.

Causal Loop Diagrams: An Orientation in Software Context

Causal Loop Diagrams: An Orientation in Software Context

Cause-and-effect diagrams help identify factors (x's) that drive changes in the results variable (Y). But when that tool is not enough, causal loop diagrams can convey causal interconnections that better reflect the way things are.

Ways to Shorten the Trip Through the ‘Valley of Despair’

Ways to Shorten the Trip Through the ‘Valley of Despair’

Recognizing the inevitable ups and downs of completing a Six Sigma project will help a Black Belt move more quickly through the "valley of despair," leading to more projects closed on time and with the expected business results.

Six Sigma Project Charter as a Vital Control Document

Six Sigma Project Charter as a Vital Control Document

The project charter is the first step and one of the most important parts of any Six Sigma project. It should contain the 11 elements described here.

Get a Feel for Lean: Explore Application Opportunities

Get a Feel for Lean: Explore Application Opportunities

Lean is intuitive, flexible and can be executed quickly. As a result, almost any business or organizational process can benefit from the application of Lean. To gain a better understanding of the method, test its tools on an everyday process.

10 Criteria to Use for Evaluating Six Sigma Projects

10 Criteria to Use for Evaluating Six Sigma Projects

A 10-point checklist can be used for ongoing project evaluation at specific milestones as well as be part of a lessons-learned exercise after project completion.

Outpatient Imaging Reports TAT Cut from 64 to 9 Hours

Outpatient Imaging Reports TAT Cut from 64 to 9 Hours

With the help of Six Sigma, an outpatient imaging center identifies the root cause of slow report turnaround times and improves performance to a better-than-industry standard.

Applying Six Sigma to Software Implementation Projects

Applying Six Sigma to Software Implementation Projects

Two project scenarios demonstrate how Six Sigma can address common pain points in software implementation – defining customer requirements and making accurate estimates.

Make Better Use of Survey Data with Kano Analysis

Make Better Use of Survey Data with Kano Analysis

One way to make use of customer satisfaction survey data is through Kano analysis, a model for classifying customer responses. Here, an appliance company analyzes customer data related to dishwashers.

Beyond Tools and Training: Adopting a Systems Approach

Beyond Tools and Training: Adopting a Systems Approach

Adopting process improvement tools and providing employee training is only part of a winning strategy. Success also requires a combination of committed leadership, unbridled innovation and a comprehensive systems approach.

Combining the Power of DMAIC with Testing Processes

Combining the Power of DMAIC with Testing Processes

To meet customer expectations, a company should bring its testing processes under the DMAIC method of Six Sigma.

Importance of Tolerance Design in Six Sigma Projects

Importance of Tolerance Design in Six Sigma Projects

How tolerances are determined affect process or product performance, and thus DPMO. This article presents two methods for determining tolerance specifications.

Capturing Financial Benefits from Lean Manufacturing

Capturing Financial Benefits from Lean Manufacturing

What often gets lost in the excitement of deploying Lean manufacturing is the discipline involved in tying improvement activities to clearly defined and auditable financial results. Follow these 5 tips for better results.

Using Weighted-DPMO to Calculate an Overall Sigma Level

Using Weighted-DPMO to Calculate an Overall Sigma Level

It can be difficult to assess an overall sigma level because some critical processes are more important than others. One approach is to weight each of the critical processes when calculating overall sigma level.

Displaying Project Storyboards Reenergizes Effort

Displaying Project Storyboards Reenergizes Effort

Focus employee opinion on the benefits of Lean Six Sigma by highlighting process improvement successes through project storyboard displays.

FMEA: Preventing a Failure Before Any Harm Is Done

FMEA: Preventing a Failure Before Any Harm Is Done

When designing a safe healthcare environment, a proactive approach is far preferable to a reactive approach. FMEA can help eliminate concerns early in the development of a process by prospectively analyzing for potential failure points.

Delight Customers: Reduce Defects in Service Delivery

Delight Customers: Reduce Defects in Service Delivery

A VOC survey revealed that a company's telephone operator response was poor and customer satisfaction was low. The resulting improvement efforts show how a service process can be turned around using Six Sigma.

Creating a Recruiting Process: DFSS for Process Design

Creating a Recruiting Process: DFSS for Process Design

A pharmaceutical company applied selected DFSS tools to develop a new process for recruiting sales representatives using the IDOV (Identify, Design, Optimize, Verify) roadmap.

Achieving Breakthroughs by Using Policy Deployment

Achieving Breakthroughs by Using Policy Deployment

How can a company properly plan and execute a strategy? Today's best model is Hoshin Kanri, also known as policy deployment, which helps align a company's resources to its most critical tasks.

How a Company Can Involve Its Suppliers in Six Sigma

How a Company Can Involve Its Suppliers in Six Sigma

As companies concentrate on design and outsource more of the order fulfillment process, including manufacturing, their quality image is dependent on supplier performance. When is the right time to involve suppliers in a quality improvement initiative?

DMAIC Model Helps to Establish a Preventive Maintenance Program

DMAIC Model Helps to Establish a Preventive Maintenance Program

A provider of medical equipment, such as EKG machines, used Six Sigma to better detect potential errors in the equipment and prevent them from occurring.

Analytical Hierarchy Process (AHP) – Getting Oriented

Analytical Hierarchy Process (AHP) – Getting Oriented

The analytical hierarchy process (AHP) allows for better prioritization by simplifying customer assessments and making their results more meaningfully measurable. It can also be used for gaining group consensus.

Work-out: The Most Powerful Process Improvement Tool

Work-out: The Most Powerful Process Improvement Tool

Work-out is powerful by design as it engages the best thinking of the those in the organization who are closest to the processes and who invariably have a lot of ideas for improvement. Learn the phases and roles in the Work-out framework.

Before Deployment: ‘Minding Your Ps to Get Your Q’

Before Deployment: ‘Minding Your Ps to Get Your Q’

Answering two fundamental questions can help an organization honestly assess its readiness for adopting a Lean Six Sigma culture.

A Method for Picking Up the SLACK in a Team Project

A Method for Picking Up the SLACK in a Team Project

To obtain the benefits of a corrective and preventive action system but without dedicating resources to a full deployment, pick up the SLACK.

5S as a Tool for Gaining Buy-in

5S as a Tool for Gaining Buy-in

Starting an implementation with a 5S event can show employees how Lean Six Sigma works, and what its use will mean for them.

Bank Deposits: A Black Belt Case Study

Bank Deposits: A Black Belt Case Study

A Black Belt used Six Sigma to improve a transactional bank deposit process, resulting in yearly savings of $4 million.

Reducing Costs by Controlling Raw Material Consumption

Reducing Costs by Controlling Raw Material Consumption

Product manufacturers are pushed to produce quality products without exceeding budget. A textile processing mill followed the DMAIC approach for more effective resource management and thus to reduce expenditures.

Using Taguchi’s Loss Function to Estimate Project Benefits

Using Taguchi’s Loss Function to Estimate Project Benefits

A financial evaluation method should be easy to communicate to the project teams that will use it and should provide plausible estimations for decision making. Taguchi's Loss Function fits the bill.

Screening Tools Can Speed Up Six Sigma Projects

Screening Tools Can Speed Up Six Sigma Projects

Although they are not part of the typical DMAIC approach, these tools can decrease the time needed to find solutions.

Using Six Sigma to Fix a Deployment In Progress

Using Six Sigma to Fix a Deployment In Progress

In this case study, a company measures the impact a Six Sigma program has had on the business after one year. After sub-optimal results, the company creates a Six Sigma project to improve its Six Sigma program.

Applying Six Sigma to Improve Diagnostic Imaging

Applying Six Sigma to Improve Diagnostic Imaging

Six Sigma can help the traditional workflow of diagnostic imaging keep pace with the science delivering better equipment and information systems.

Zero Defects: What Does It Achieve? What Does It Mean?

Zero Defects: What Does It Achieve? What Does It Mean?

The use of slogans such as "zero defects" to spur quality can be counterproductive, detracting attention from the tried-and-true tools and culture associated with successful Six Sigma programs.

Using a Criteria-Based Matrix to Prioritize IT Projects

Using a Criteria-Based Matrix to Prioritize IT Projects

A common challenge for an information technology department is how to prioritize projects for the biggest benefit. Follow these eight steps to build a criteria-based matrix that provides effective prioritization for any organization.

What You May Not Know About Adding Variances

What You May Not Know About Adding Variances

Six Sigma instructors tell their students add variances, not standard deviations. What students may not have learned is that this additive property relies on the linearity of the transfer function.

When Does a Difference Matter? Using ANOVA to Tell

When Does a Difference Matter? Using ANOVA to Tell

Much of the Six Sigma DMAIC methodology is concerned with finding differences. But often it ends up being more important to learn "does the difference really matter?" ANOVA is an hypothesis testing tool that can help answer that question.

Carefully Planned Kaizens Can Lead to Immediate Change

Carefully Planned Kaizens Can Lead to Immediate Change

Organizations considering Kaizen events must be ready to make a commitment to change management by properly preparing attendees for the goals of the event, executing the event smoothly and implementing solutions in a timely and effective manner.

Seeing Red: Integrating Balanced Scorecard and Six Sigma

Seeing Red: Integrating Balanced Scorecard and Six Sigma

The balanced scorecard enables an organization to maintain the perspective of various stakeholders while providing a complete assessment of organizational progress. It can help improve the performance in one area without harming another.

Linear Regression: Making Sense of a Six Sigma Tool

Linear Regression: Making Sense of a Six Sigma Tool

Linear regression is often considered difficult or confusing by those practitioners just beginning to delve into the Six Sigma toolkit. Making sense of it starts at a basic level.

A System for Colleague Consulting Among Black Belts

A System for Colleague Consulting Among Black Belts

Black Belts have a counseling resource that is often ignored or underutilized – the knowledge and experience of their peers. Formalize knowledge sharing with a structured approach to collegial problem solving.

Debunking IT Isolation in Search of Quality and Savings

Debunking IT Isolation in Search of Quality and Savings

Six Sigma is used effectively in manufacturing, service, financial and educational settings to improve processes and achieve time and cost benefits by eliminating waste and inefficiencies. With a little adaptation, Six Sigma can do the same for IT departments.

Three Rules for Data Analysis: Plot the Data, Plot the Data, Plot the Data

Three Rules for Data Analysis: Plot the Data, Plot the Data, Plot the Data

Using graphical tools, a refrigerator manufacturer analyzed supplier data to identify the best sources for parts. This case study illustrates how these simple yet powerful tools can be applied to any industry or process.

Building Cultural Acceptance Key to Lean Transformation

Building Cultural Acceptance Key to Lean Transformation

When it comes to Lean, the difference between success and failure is in cultural acceptance and the ability of an organization to accept change -- not just Lean change, but change in general.

Analyzing Experiments with Ordered Categorical Data

Analyzing Experiments with Ordered Categorical Data

Six Sigma projects often deal with experiments whose outcomes are ordered categorical data, rather than continuous. It is important to know the right analysis methods for these cases, such as Jeng and Guo’s weighted probability-scoring scheme (WPSS).

What Belts Should Know About the Cost of Poor Quality

What Belts Should Know About the Cost of Poor Quality

With a firm understanding of COPQ – both what it includes and what it does not – Belts can determine and justify projects, and gain buy-in for efforts based on financial findings.

5 Six Sigma Deployment Mistakes – And How to Avoid Them

5 Six Sigma Deployment Mistakes – And How to Avoid Them

Years of Six Sigma deployments have created a wealth of both success stories and lessons about process challenges -- learn to steer clear of others' mistakes.

Helping the Help Desk Satisfy Customers More Quickly: An iSixSigma Case Study

Helping the Help Desk Satisfy Customers More Quickly: An iSixSigma Case Study

A company in India implemented Lean Six Sigma to achieve dramatic improvements in its help desk operations.

Leveraging Kano and QFD for Requirements Management

Leveraging Kano and QFD for Requirements Management

Used in combination, the Kano survey and QFD tools provide companies with the ability to maximize customer satisfaction.

TOC Tools Help Find the Right Lean Six Sigma Projects

TOC Tools Help Find the Right Lean Six Sigma Projects

Two tools within the theory of constraints method -- bottleneck analysis and current reality tree -- can help identify the real pain ailing an organization and lead to the selection of relevant LSS improvement projects.

An Accelerated Project Approach Can Build Support for Six Sigma

An Accelerated Project Approach Can Build Support for Six Sigma

Using an accelerated approach, projects can take as little as one week to complete. This requires good planning, participation by the key stakeholders and a commitment to rapidly working through the DMAIC logic to make sustainable improvements to process performance.

Manage Control Limits When Implementing Statistical Process Control

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.

Balancing Roles and Responsibilities in Six Sigma

Balancing Roles and Responsibilities in Six Sigma

A simple way for a company to assign and balance Six Sigma roles and responsibilities is to apply the RACI model, which identifies who in an improvement project is responsible, accountable, consulted and informed.

Applying Theory of Constraints to Manage Bottlenecks

Applying Theory of Constraints to Manage Bottlenecks

In order to increase throughput, operations managers must focus on identifying and improving process bottlenecks. The theory of constraints can help.

Case Study: Improving Medical Bill Review Cycle Time

Case Study: Improving Medical Bill Review Cycle Time

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.

Involving Finance in Six Sigma – Do It Early and Fully

Involving Finance in Six Sigma – Do It Early and Fully

How confident can a company be that claims of Six Sigma benefits actually impacted the bottom line? BHP Billiton Base Metals found an answer through the involvement of the finance department in its deployment of Six Sigma.

Using ANOVA to Find Differences in Population Means

Using ANOVA to Find Differences in Population Means

Analysis of variance (ANOVA) is a statistical technique for determining the existence of differences among several population means. Follow along step by step on this overview of ANOVA.

Improving Supply Chain Quality Through Hoshin Kanri

Improving Supply Chain Quality Through Hoshin Kanri

Hoshin kanri is a methodology to capture strategic goals and integrate these goals with your entire organization’s daily activities.



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