Pitfalls of not using a Methodology such as DMAIC

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    Hello Everyone,
    I’ll be training our organization in quality/customer service in the upcoming weeks.  I’m trying to gather as many reasons as possible to utilize a methodology such as DMAIC as part of a debriefing from an exercise. 
    If you had to explain the logic behind using a structured approach (such as DMAIC) for improving quality to employees and management, , what kinds of things would you say?
    Any help would be appreciated.



    Try to get them to do a short exercise of about 5 mintues. First have them solve a problem without any solution structure provided. Then have them solve a similar problem, but give them a structure for the potential solution. The structured solution should take significantly less time to get to a solution. Efficiency, effectiveness, teamwork will all be enhanced. Relate this to DMAIC.



    Finding out what your customer issues are
    Establish a base line (internal and external)
    Test your measurement system-against customer
    Provide focus for operators
    Focus improves your target for quailty
    Control with trend charts (internal and external) 


    Nataraj VR

    DMAIC is simple but structured approach for problem solution. It is as elemental as PDCA approach.  Hence it would not difficult to sell the idea, but I am sure that the person might question such a simple system, which coudl provide solutions to many issues and improve the system and cycle times.  For this, we need to talk about the KISS – Keep it simply simple so that it is understood and applied.


    Dave Hallowell

    DMAIC provides good ‘common sense’ that an effective individual would apply to problem solving:
    D: Understand the *problem*, needs, risks, etc. rather than jumping to a solution. Quantify the business benefit to be gained
    M: Gather information that will shed light on ‘what’s really going on?’
    A: Distill the information gathered, using it to pinpoint and verify the root cause(s) and/or underlying dynamics
    I: Think through alternative solutions, selecting and piloting the best, verifying that the right thing(s) got fixed and nothing else broke.
    C: Scale the solution, putting it in place for the long haul (making it ‘stick’),  Use early warning indicators to detect drift (rather than waiting for a crash to signal trouble).
    Six Sigma also brings a rich set of tools to the above, but they are means, not an end.  The DMAIC thought process helps a team to operate with that good problem-solving common sense that an individual would use. That’s not so simple…many a team of well-meaning individuals have pulled in different directions, jumped to solutions, etc. – wasting effort and resources, yanking other people around, and failing to get the results.  Managers who understand DMAIC like the fact that it provides crisp review points at the end of each step — where the team’s data and thinking can be understood, corrected, etc.
    Hope that gives you a few points for your ‘sell’



    The previous responses have all been right on target so let me offer a response from a slightly different context. One of the biggest issues in effective problem solving is properly (completely and at the correct level) defining the problem. Many well intentioned people armed with good tools fail in problem solving because they apply the tools to the effect (the Y) rather than the cause (The X). This occurs because the cause is usually not as obvious as the effect. This usually creates the issue of re-occuring problems. (they were never really solved). In my training work I have found that most people( not exposed to DMAIC), when asked of their problem solving experience, will tell you that 70% of their activity is reactive (fire fighting) and 50% of the problems they thought they solved re-occured. Getting people to talk about this, and their subsequent frustration with it, opens their mind to a new concept that might help. The structure of DMAIC and it’s underlying requirement to solve the equation Y=f(X) will then become a logical answer to their long standing frustration with problem solving. Hope this helps


    Chip Hewette

    I would suggest a different approach to your training.  Begin with a brainstorming session using a Post-It note technique.  Ask people to write what they dislike or find ineffective about the way your company solves problems on Post-Its.  Spend about 8 to 10 minutes in writing.  As each person writes a note, have them hold it over their head.  Walk to that note, take it, and read it aloud.  Most of the time others will crumple up a Post-It they were writing as the thought was the same.  Collect all the Post-Its on a large surface, reading them as you collect.
    Then, post five large Post-It flip charts on the walls, with the DMAIC information clearly visible.  Each chart should be labeled by the phase letter and simple statements about that phase.  Organize the Post-Its onto the phase of Six Sigma that eliminates that problem.  Talk through how DMAIC attacks all the issues.
    In this way, you’ve engaged the audience and learned from them how ineffective efforts have been.  Their own complaints being solved by DMAIC will hopefully guide them to a reasonable conclusion, that Six Sigma can help us.
    Issues you may hear include:

    No clear direction from the top
    Haven’t we worked on this before?
    Can’t tell if we’ve solved the problem
    Tried solutions but later the problem recurred
    Couldn’t figure out what we are doing today anyway
    Don’t know who is responsible to fix the problem
    Don’t know how to keep the process in control
    And on, and on…
    Let your audience really paint a gloomy picture of the chaotic problem-solving efforts themselves.  Then, present DMAIC.



    Excellent suggestion and post. It was very informative and a very good way to change the culture through a “soft” leadership exercise. Many do not value the softer aspects of six sigma, such as this exercise — many think it’s just TQM or a statistics program. I am pleased to see your thoughts, as this is imperative for a successful implementation.


    Gus Magistro

    I have used a childrens 90 piece puzzle, without the picture, to illustrate how a team comes up with a process to assemble it. The picture is the process and without it it takes longer to solve the jig saw puzzle. In addition, to improve a process you must first define it.



    I agree that previous responses are on target. I have implemented a number of quality initiatives and find the Six Sigma DMAIC model offers the mythology, a step-by-step process and the tools to attain success. From senior management buy-in to completing an ROI on the cost of the current process versus the value/savings of the recommended solution, it helps ensure success.



    The greatest advantage is that it provides a structured journey. It has a beginning, a subsistence, and an end. How many times have you been part of a team to resolve a particular issue, only to have it fall apart and solve nothing, because of lack of direction, dominent personalities, etc? And then start the whole thing over again! Wonder why everyone groans when they hear, “team”? When the concept of DMAIC is taught correctly, you will convert many non-believers. DMAIC forces the project to move ahead, using data as the driving force.


    Steve Clapp

    Humans (especially United States humans) like to be in a “ready, fire, aim” mode, wanting to get to the solution before understanding the problem.  This methodology frequently results in fixing superficial issues.  DMAIC ensures we slow down and arrive at the most probable root causes before we develop answers.
    Steve ClappOverdrive Consulting, Inc.


    Karel MBB

    I see you have a good selection of responses to work with.
    Perhaps one thing I would consider before using this or any other tool, is to get the team to consider their past attitudes, behaviours to problem solving.
    By that I mean offer them the phrase we often ask them to consider “if you always do what you have always done, you will always get what you always got.” ask them to think what this might mean for them, not necessarily to be overly critical on themselves, but to ask have we really looked at other alternative ways of, as in your case – problem solving techniques.
    Now if there is resistance to this, perhaps you need to get back to the sponsor of the work and remind them “can’t change the management, then time to think about changing the management”
    Point of all this there is perhaps some other “positioning” techniques needed to get the team into a positive frame of mind to be more open to the posssiblities of a structured process.
    Plus for me I’d be inclined to have a fun type exercise first using the technique to allow the team to become familiar with how the stages link together, as it might help them more when they applying it to the real issues. This could be incorporated with say some Left/ Right brain thinking exercises that indicate how the individuals in a team perceive the problem and its possible solution.
    Anyway wish you well with the work.

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