# opportunity

Six Sigma – iSixSigma Forums Old Forums General opportunity

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• #27409

tomm
Member

Just a simple question…
Is there any fixed theory about the definition of the word “opportunity” ? Is it about opportunity to do/produce the right thing or opportunity to do something that causing defect ??
Please explain it to me, to get rid of this dizzyness…

Tomm

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#67044

Praneet
Participant

Hi
Hope to make it easy for you…
Assume that in order to create a product you need to do 6 different things… then in this case the # of Opportunities is 6. What this means is that unless these 6 steps are done correctly, then no defects can be produced.

Regards

Praneet

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#67052

Anonymous
Participant

What you have to look at is your basis of measure.

For example; if you made 10,000 widgets and a widget is either good or bad then your area of opportunity is simply 10,000. You had 10,000 opportunities to make a bad widget. If you had 24 defective widgets from that 10,000 your defect rate per 1,000,000 would equal 2400 corresponding to a process sigma of 4.32.

However if you’re counting the NUMBER of defects your area of opportunity is different than the above example. Suppose you had 50 possible defects for each widget. Then your area of opportunity would be 500,000 (50 * 10,000). If you counted 420 defects amoung the 10,000 widgets then your defect rate per 1,000,000 would be 840 corresponding to a process sigma of 4.64.

Hope this helps.

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#67064

Murray
Participant

nonsense, you do not know what you are talking about. Opportunities are value added things which must be done right. If you get creative enough you can justify infinite ways for defects — this is not right

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#67072

Anonymous
Participant

Anonymous can be defined in many ways depending upon what you are talking about. When discussing Six Sigma philosophy – specifically, calculating sigma levels, etc. – the widget example provided by “Anonymous” is accurate. Your “opportunity” (as it relates to a sigma level) is the unit of measure that describes your “opportunity” for success or failure. If your product is cotton fabric, your opportunity may be a square foot or a linear yard or a hand of fabric. To get a defect rate, you take the total opportunity for a time period (day, week, etc.) and divide the failures (using the same rate of measure as your total opportunity) into the total. This rate will correspond to a “sigma level” where 6 sigma = 3.2 defects per million opportunities.

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#67073

Anonymous
Participant

There IS a philosophy out there which promotes counting only those value added steps as opportunities and it appears that you have fallen in to that mode of thinking.

The approach that I used in the example is applicable in most cases however this value added approach in which you chose to use has its flaws. The obvious one to me is that if you only count your “value added” steps as opportunities then you are purposely excluding non-value added steps even though the non-value added steps are part of the true process AND can be a source for defects. In the real world most processes have non-value added steps and not counting those steps as opportunities will make you think you’re better than you actually are.

You must remember that the whole concept of Six Sigma is to measure what your customer’s spec’s are relative to where your process is, not just where your value added steps are. If your customer is buying your widgets you sure better know how good or how bad you are. I don’t think unhappy customers will give a damn if you explain how good you are when you count only those value added steps. A prime example of this is a repair process. Most manufacturers have this process yet it is not truly value added. Are you saying NOT to count this process, or it’s output???

Notice that you can disagree with someone without stating “you do not know what you’re talking about.” Some people can open their minds and consider that there might be a different or better way and some people can’t.

In the words of Russ… https://www.isixsigma.com/forum/showmessage.asp?messageID=2279

Good day.

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#67075

Murray
Participant

You don’t know what you are talking about.

You want extra credit (inflated opportunities) for doing things poorly. Why, so you can show a sigma level equal to someone doing a better job? Waste removal is what six sigma is about, you don’t get credit for waste.

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#67083

Cone
Participant

It is the value added things done within the process being measured.

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#67086

“Ken”
Participant

Within each value added area of the process defects can be produced. These are the defects you desire to drive toward the 3.4 dpmo level.

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#67109

Ken K.
Participant

One thing to keep in mind is that the “opportunities” is supposed to be a measure of your process’ complexity. The whole reason this stuff was created was to allow us to compare products and processes of varying complexities.

In my business we have a wide variety of products, but the vast majority involve populating printed circuit boards with electronic components. It that situation we consider the number of opportunities very simply as the number of parts plus the number of connections (solder or otherwise).

If the process involves completing a form, then the opportunities is the number of potential defects per unit – maybe the number of fields in the form, but don’t start counting all the different kinds of defects.

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#67126

Participant

By Ken’s explanation, it appears “opportunity” is an internal measure used in comparisons of processes. It appears that there isn’t consensus on whether the measure is of off quality or quality. I’m not sure that it matters anyway, provided you clearly define it for your own organization since it is an internal measure.

What strikes me is what the Customer makes of the definition. Either the widget or circuit board works or it doesn’t. Perhaps taking a Customer perspective will help to clarify what an “opportunity” is or isn’t and allow you to develop a better Operational Definition. Allen’s comments are dead right in my opinion: by creating loose parameters you massage the numbers without improving quality.

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#67127

“Ken”
Participant

Allen,

I like your style. Concise and to the point. Also agree with the comment. Sometimes it’s O.K. to be direct and to the point. I work far to hard to reason with members of this board who do not understand the concepts well. I should take a lesson from you. Thanks for the input!

Ken

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#67129

“Ken”
Participant

Kevin,

Which Ken??

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#67134

Participant

I’m sorry for the confusion. I was spinning off of Ken K.’s last comments, but in general, I was feeding off all the input to this thread.

Here is a question: as part of Six Sigma training, do any of the gurus define “opportunity” or is it left to be defined by the organization?

Regards,

Kevin

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#67136

Tom C.
Member

Kevin,

I think you nailed it right on the head with your comment. Thank you for bringing it up. I’ll rephrase it for everyone in this forum: the customer doesn’t care about your internal measures or what you consider an opportunity. All s/he knows is whether the part (in Ken’s case the printed circuit board) functions properly or not.

By establishing an opportunity count by adding the number of parts to the number of welds, it may in fact be overestimating the true opportunities. In this case, if a customer finds a defect it is only one defect per 30 opportunities (say 10 parts and 20 welds per board).

To the customer, they bought 100 boards and one was defective (1/100=0.01 which is ~5.2 sigma). To the business, it would be one defect found on 100 boards with 30 opportunities per unit (1/3000=0.0003 which is ~6 sigma). 5.2 to 6 sigma may not seem like much, but at 5 defects found the spread is 3.1 to 5.6 sigma. Now there’s a big difference — the difference between business mediocrity and a high performing business. All from counting opporutnites.

Who are we trying to fool, ourselves? The point is that if the customer doesn’t feel the difference, neither will your shareholders. Do what’s right for the customer, not your next performance appraisal.

Tom C. (Customer, Quality Professional, Shareholder)

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#67137

Gary Cone
Participant

Of course it is defined. Management is told that opportunity count and DPMO is a management tool for comparing processes. Management is told that there has to be synergy between objectives like Lean and Six Sigma and then they are told that opportunities are value added operations at the detail level. Anything else would negate the principles of Lean which are as important as Six Sigma.

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#67138

“Ken”
Participant

Tom,

When conducting improvement on your products, or processes supporting your products and services, how do you determine which areas need improvement first? How do you measure/track that improvement? How do you compare the level of improvement across your organization in a manner that allows a fair comparison. Could you elaborate for us all on the metrics you use within your company?

Thanks,

Ken

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#67139

Tom C.
Member

Ken,

I take it that you do not agree with my previous comments on characterizing defects as our customers would prefer the defects to be characterized (not as we would prefer them to be characterized). Is that why you are asking how we prioritize, track, and compare our quality efforts across the company?

I’d be happy to share that information with you, but first, do you agree in concept or not?

Tom C.

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#67176

Participant

Ken,

Could you elaborate on the need to do comparisons? Is it done to help prioritize organizational efforts?

Regards,

Kevin

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#67179

Participant

Tom,

Systems are comprised of several components, the most dominant of which is the Customer (which you recognize). On occasion, other components in the system will require a higher priority to the others, but never will any other component place hire than the Customer. Keep in mind that there will always be oscillation between the other component priority/status.

I also recognize the importance of having both types of ‘opportunity’ measures. For me, however, it is more important to deal with the needs of the Customer over the needs of the Organization. However bleak the future of an organization is, the Customer will undoubtedly be inclined to think of their priorities. Without the Customer, you are not in business, so having a Customer focus is primary. There will be no System for the Organization that does not recognize this in the long term. Still, not looking at the things in house can cause extinction. The System will collapse if any component fails.

Your point on the performance appraisal is well taken. Unfortunately, I see great opportunity for manipulation of data for all the wrong reasons. To get a good rating, promotion, bonus, incentive, etc., one might be inclined to stretch/change regularly the definition of an “opportunity”. An Operational Definition for ‘opportunity’ must be recognizable across all components in the System and created collaboratively by the components in it. Anything less will lead to incorrect conclusions about the total system gain. Maximizing a component will destroy a System!

Process measurements are important and must be done. Careful selection of business and quality metrics are essential. Nevertheless, I’ll close with the words of Lloyd Nelson, “Most of the important numbers are unknown and unknowable.” What will you measure?

Regards,

Kevin

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