8D vs Six Sigma

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    Eileen Beachell

    Since you asked, I will try to give you my perspective. The 8Ds were developed to address chronic problems in engineering/manufacturing. They were not written to replace or stand alone as a single company-wide initiative. Ford had many other efforts to address variation and improve processes. The 8Ds were developed for Powertrain to understand and solve identified warranty and manufacturing problems. It presented a defined thought process or logic with a framework of linear steps.
    When Alex Trotman became CEO, he decided the 8Ds were the quality initiative. Sadly, routine or serial problem solving will not overall improve the vast majority of processes and products. By eliminating known problems, it doesn’t guarantee a great product. Mr. Trotman’s inability to appreciate and support the company-wide quality initiatives of the 1980’s laid the foundation for Ford’s future quality problems.
    When Jacques Nasser became CEO, he decided to emulate Jack Welch’s management at GE. He copied several of GE’s management initiatives, including the firing of the bottom 5-10%, mergers and acquisitions, and Six Sigma. It is ironic, that Ford hired Mikel Harry who presented back to Ford what they had been doing in the 1980’s. In fact, Motorola’s Six Sigma effort was their company-wide quality initiative to Ford’s quality requirements in 1981.
    There are differences between Six Sigma and the 8Ds. Both have a define, analyze, and improve stage. Six Sigma uses a circular strategy (PDSA) whereas the 8Ds are a linear approach. In writing the 8Ds, a lot of effort was put into defining a basic logic and thought process to assist the team in following through with the problem resolution. The 8Ds have a beginning and a well-defined ending. Most Six Sigma programs do not have a defined logic. Although several of the data analysis tools are common to both, most Six Sigma training programs teach tests of hypotheses. There tends to be a focus on enumerative statistics (tests of hypotheses, probability risks-alpha, beta). You will not find this used in the 8Ds. The 8Ds effort was also focused more on addressing the specific management failures that allowed the problem to occur in the first place. It is great that you can solve a problem, but without changing what happened in the management systems that allowed it to exist, you can’t hope to truly eliminate the existing or future problems.
    In short, Six Sigma is a project-based initiative using a PDSA strategy and common statistical tools for problem resolution. The 8Ds are a well-defined linear logic methodology to address chronic problems with the purpose of changing the management procedures that allowed the problem to occur in the first place.
    Hope this helps. Eileen Beachell
    Quality Disciplines
    [email protected]

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