iSixSigma

Cause & Effect

Root Cause Analysis, Ishikawa Diagrams and the 5 Whys

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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Harvesting Value in Transactional Processes with Lean Six Sigma

In an era of high competition, with many companies facing a less-than-certain future, the need to increase performance in the eyes of the customer has never been stronger. Transactional processes play a major role in any company’s interaction with the customer, which makes them excellent candidates for Lean Six Sigma improvements. Methods and tools that…

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Screening Tools Can Speed Up Six Sigma Projects

Lean Six Sigma has led to improvements for many of the companies that use it; a few companies have even achieved spectacular results. However, not every company is pleased with its progress with Six Sigma. One area that may lead to this disparity of results is the use of screening tools developed by Dorian Shainin….

The Cause and Effect (a.k.a. Fishbone) Diagram

When utilizing a team approach to problem solving, there are often many opinions as to the problem’s root cause. One way to capture these different ideas and stimulate the team’s brainstorming on root causes is the cause and effect diagram, commonly called a fishbone. The fishbone will help to visually display the many potential causes…

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Determine the Root Cause: 5 Whys

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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Using Six Sigma to Reduce Pressure Ulcers at a Hospital

Since 2001, Thibodaux Regional Medical Center (TRMC) in Louisiana has applied Six Sigma and change management methods to a range of clinical and operational issues. One project that clearly aligned with the hospital’s strategic plan was an initiative to reduce nosocomial or hospital-acquired pressure ulcers, because this is one of the key performance metrics indicating…

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5 Lean Tools and Principles to Integrate into Six Sigma

Increasingly, organizations that use Six Sigma are making an effort to integrate Lean into their existing process-improvement framework. For many, combining Six Sigma’s focus on process quality and Lean’s emphasis on turn-around time results in more high-impact, quick-hit projects. To gain this advantage, however, organizations must face a difficult obstacle: integrating Lean without creating ripples…

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Causal Loop Diagrams: Little Known Analytical Tool

Sometimes it is easy to get into a rut when it comes to doing analysis. It can be hard to stray from those same time-tested analytical tools used in the Six Sigma methodology. The process map, failure modes and effects analysis, cause-and-effect matrix, and fishbone diagram are like well used tools that feel comfortable and…

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Cause-and-effect Diagrams and Lean for Service Processes

Lean improvement of service processes is somewhat different from Lean improvement of manufacturing processes. Efficiency is usually a measure of speed and cost and Lean improvement in efficiency is achieved by eliminating waste in time or resources. Effectiveness is usually a measure of quality and the overall objectives of the enterprise in that regard. If…

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Decision-Making with Cause-and-Effect Analysis and DOE

Business process improvements, the grail of any company’s operations, translate directly into better profits by cutting costs and increasing competitiveness at the same time. In many cases, business process improvements have accelerating cumulative effects on company profits. If an insurance company, for example, can underwrite policies faster or settle claims faster, it is providing better…

Categories of Legitimate Reservation Focuses Fishbone

The fishbone diagram is the most commonly used cause-and-effect analysis tool in Six Sigma. Cause-and-effect analysis is one of the key tasks in any Six Sigma DMAIC project because half of the game is won when the correct root causes of the problem (the Y) are found. However, poor use of the fishbone diagram is…

Communication and Business Case Key to Revising Process

Through a two-year Six Sigma project, the Department of Defense (DoD) Acquisition and Technology Programs Task Force (ATP TF) coordinated a revision to a joint weapon system safety review process that provided a 59 percent reduction in cycle time. Without the Six Sigma framework, the project might not have achieved the success it did within…

Applying Systems Thinking to the Practice of Six Sigma

Well-focused improvements done in the right place can lead to significant system-wide results for an organization. In simple terms, it is a matter of choosing the right Six Sigma projects. But the problem is that it is not always easy to know which projects will produce the highest system-level leverage. Often Green Belts and Black…

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Tree Diagrams for Six Sigma: Plain and Simple?

With the complexity of many of the tools in the Six Sigma kit, it is easy to look at tree diagrams as fairly simple and routine. Experience shows, though, that there are enough pitfalls encountered and benefits missed that it is worth consolidating a few time-won guidelines and tips about applying them and explanations on…

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Causal Loop Diagrams: An Orientation in Software Context

Among the tried and true tools in the Six Sigma kit, cause-and-effect diagrams in the simple form of a tree, a fishbone or a Y-to-x diagram are a big help in identifying factors (x’s) that may drive changes in a results variable of interest (Y). There are times, though, that a flat, two-dimensional hierarchy does…

Combining SIPOC with the Cause-and-Effect Diagram

Six Sigma practitioners strive to find the root causes of defects fast and accurately. One of the tools that provides a good initial view of the process Six Sigma is being used to optimize is SIPOC (supplier, input, process, output, customer). This tool is especially helpful when the improvement project is aimed at a process…

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Using Data Analysis to Identify Six Sigma Sales Projects

Six Sigma is a useful methodology for identifying sales improvement opportunities. The data-driven approach facilitates correlation of the factors involved in the sales process and helps isolate specific inputs to expand the potential for increasing sales. Analysis of existing sales practices and various statistical sales results provides a good source of project ideas. As an…

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