Root Cause Analysis, Ishikawa Diagrams and the 5 Whys

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Root cause analysis (RCA) is a way of identifying the underlying source of a process or product failure so that the right solution can be identified. RCA can progress more quickly and effectively by pairing an Ishikawa diagram with the scientific method in the form of the well-known plan-do-check-act (PDCA) cycle to empirically investigate the […]

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Up Close with William B. Wark

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Wark will be presenting on the role of the CSB and the lessons learned from its investigations during a keynote address at iSixSigma’s Energy Forum for Process Excellence on May 17 in Houston. In an interview with iSixSigma Senior Editor Kirsten Terry, Wark offered a preview of some of the topics he will cover during […]

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Call vs. Online Chat: Switching Volume from One Channel to Another

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An iSixSigma Discussion Forum exchange involved the manager of a call center who was interested in eliminating her organization’s “online chat” channel of communication and have all contact flow through the phones instead. However, she wanted to see if she could make an apples-to-apples comparison between the online chat and phone channels, given that they […]

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How to Revive Your Lean Six Sigma Deployment

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The Six Sigma world is filled with stories reiterating the importance of leadership focus when implementing Lean Six Sigma. However, the continuous improvement landscape is also littered with examples of Lean Six Sigma programs that were implemented in full force to start with and then were slowly abandoned after they had spread to other departments […]

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Effective Brainstorming: Building an Opportunity Matrix

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Manufacturing facilities often are faced with major challenges when it comes to large-scale process improvement. Improving yields at a large manufacturing plant – one that produces millions of pounds of product annually – might require modifications for every step in its process: production equipment, maintenance strategies, operational procedures, process control strategies and analytical support strategies, […]

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DFSS Drives Results for Financial Services Firms

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Lean Six Sigma remains a popular and effective tool to improve efficiency in financial services operations. However, many financial institutions are finding that identifying and reducing incremental defect variability does not fully maximize the full spectrum of improvement opportunities. To achieve a larger return on investment, many organizations are turning to Design for Six Sigma […]

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Reducing Misdirected Calls in Automated Payment Systems

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While working on a maintenance project for a large U.S. telecommunications firm, information technology company Infosys Technologies Ltd. discovered that an unacceptably high percentage of calls in the clients’ automated payment system were being routed to the call center agents. The team conducted a DMAIC project, outlined here, to reduce the number of misdirected calls. […]

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Thinking Two Moves Ahead with Analytical Tools

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Considering the performance of the stock market over the past few years combined with current economic conditions, many financial institutions are analyzing their processes for improvements. Unfortunately, the majority of process improvement tools available to Six Sigma practitioners – such as cause-and-effect diagrams, Pareto charts, histograms and scatter plots – have been used for analyzing […]

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Six Sigma for Software – More Than a New Tool

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We need to fundamentally change what’s going on in Software. FAST! Defects, long cycle times, poor estimation, missed targets and project cancellations are stripping away profits and our ability to satisfy and retain customers. It’s occurring in Software Development companies, Embedded Product Software (Firmware), and Business Application Software. And, it’s happening in all industry segments. […]

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Developing E-Learning the Six Sigma Way

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Your e-learning development program may well be in trouble, and applying the Six Sigma methodology might be the solution. In this real-world Six Sigma – play-by-play – case study about e-learning development, you will learn from the Black Belt what tools were used throughout the DMAIC (Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, Control) phases of a project […]

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Determine the Root Cause: 5 Whys

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Asking “Why?” may be a favorite technique of your 3-year-old child in driving you crazy, but it could teach you a valuable Six Sigma quality lesson. The 5 Whys is a technique used in the Analyze phase of the Six Sigma DMAIC (Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, Control) methodology. It is a great Six Sigma tool that […]

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ITIL and Six Sigma Make a Winning Combination for IT

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The Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) and Six Sigma have both been successfully employed to improve the quality of information technology (IT) services. Often the two approaches, although distinctly different but with a common focus on customer satisfaction at their core, are used independently of each other. Fortunately many organizations are coming to realize the […]

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Current Reality Tree Helps to Identify Hidden Barriers

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Lean Six Sigma projects are a learning journey and, unfortunately, despite practitioners’ best efforts, projects can become delayed on their way to completion. A number of reasons may contribute to project delays, such as the occasional unforeseen organizational crisis due to business, operational or personnel issues. The conventional management response to delays is to arrange […]

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Going Beyond the 5 Whys

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“So what?” That’s all your CEO has to say after you present your latest Lean Six Sigma triumph. You gaze out over a deafeningly silent boardroom. Your team is stunned. While you try to comprehend the CEO’s demoralizing response, the other managers and administrators chime in: “Yeah, so what?” The above scenario might be an […]

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Reveal Assumptions and Find Root Causes with Webbing

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Six Sigma practitioners looking to clarify or explore a task, find root causes of a problem or develop their strategic thinking skills may want to consider using webbing, a valuable exploration tool. Similar to the 5 Whys, this tool encourages practitioners to ask a web of questions about a task or process in order to […]

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Teamwork and Creativity Help to Identify Root Causes

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In problem-solving methodologies, identifying potential causes is a crucial step between process mapping and data collection and analysis. It involves the best available process knowledge, as well as creativity. Creativity and team management tools, more often employed for solution finding than for root cause finding, can generate deep understanding of the process mechanics and help […]

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FMEA: Tool for Process Documentation and Discovery

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While the name of the failure mode and effects analysis (FMEA) concentrates on how a process fails, the real objective is to concentrate on assessing the effects and process controls for the root causes related to any given failure mode. Practitioners examine the root cause-failure-effect sequence by starting in the middle and working outward. During […]

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8 Basics of Lean Six Sigma for Manufacturing Firms

8 Basics of Lean Six Sigma for Manufacturing Firms

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It takes more than quick fixes, outsourcing and downsizing to consistently achieve growth and profit objectives. For companies to grow, they need to master eight basics of Lean Six Sigma.

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Lean Six Sigma to Reduce Excess and Obsolete Inventory

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Excess and obsolete inventory write-offs are chronic supply chain problems costing businesses billions of dollars each year. Unfortunately, improvement projects that are deployed to eliminate these problems often have a short-term focus. In other words, the current levels of excess and obsolete inventory are usually addressed, but not the root causes of the problem. Often […]

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Basic Strategies for Avoiding and Overcoming Resistance

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The pattern is so predictable as to be universal. A leadership team announces to a company that they are going to launch Lean Six Sigma. The next few months are a blur of activity with executives and their direct reports scrambling to conduct an assessment, plan the deployment and determine how to recruit and allocate […]

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Making the Case for FMEA in Managing Software Projects

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Many times, a company is required to do a root cause analysis once a defect or bug is found in the software system it has developed and released to customers. Such an approach is not only costly, but almost without exception results in customer dissatisfaction. What is needed is a proactive approach to understand the […]

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Bridging Functional Silos to Achieve ‘Customer Impact’

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During the Define phase, it is common that a project is made smaller and more manageable by limiting the scope of the business process it will address. This may, however, cause problems during the Measure and Analyze phases when root causes outside the project scope are found. An exploration of this issue is found in […]

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Empty waiting room

Solving the Dilemma Created by the No-Show Patient

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Patients who fail to show up for their exams interrupt the scheduling process and disrupt the delivery system. Healthcare facilities must control no-shows to realize process efficiencies and minimize missed revenue opportunities.

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