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Six Sigma Against Terrorism

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  • #30657

    Pace
    Participant

    Hi everyone,
    I was reading the iSixSigma news and ran across the story on Six Sigma Versus Terrorism. It’s kind of an interesting piece, although I question where the author got some of his information from.
    At one point, he writes “Six Sigma is lousy at fixing rare and random problems, says Elizabeth Keim, president of the American Society for Quality and a Six Sigma consultant. And terrorism, at first glance, seems to be the very definition of rare and random.”
    Here is my question: What kind of statement is the president of ASQ making here? Is it just me, or is this a funny statement to make? What methodology is GOOD at fixing random, rare (also known as white noise or natural noise) process issues?
    I look forward to everyone’s thoughts.
    Michelle
    PS A couple of other quotes that make me think “show me the data”:

    “Fighting terrorism isn’t really much different than marketing, Harry says.”
    “Fewer than 15% of the Fortune 1,000 are using it in a significant way.”
    “Companies that don’t stick it out for at least five years soon revert and lose all progress.”

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    #80164

    Keneth
    Participant

    It’s ridiculous to give credit to Mikel Harry for Six Sigma. Why do reporters continue to spread dis-information?
    The rest of the article was interesting.
    Keneth

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    #80169

    Michael Carver
    Participant

    This is just a case of standing up and taking credit.  If Smith had had more “presence” in the boardroom of Motorola, Harry would still be just another program manger wantabe.  Politics….

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    #80172

    Withheld
    Member

    There is room for statistical thinking everywhere. Having said that, the very last thing I want my government doing is putting another layer of bureaucracy between the decision makers and the well-documented low hanging fruit that exists in our intelligence agencies.
    Regarding the other comments that interested you:
    “Fighting terrorism isn’t really much different than marketing, Harry says.” is an unfortunate comment that literally screams for retraction unless it can be supported with knowledge generally unobtainable to those outside the intelligence community,
    “Fewer than 15% of the Fortune 1,000 are using it in a significant way.” is probably true, and,”Companies that don’t stick it out for at least five years soon revert and lose all progress.” is probably true with the caveat that once statistical thinking is learned it is hard to unlearn. One grounded in statistical thinking will apply it as second nature to his daily work whether the company wants him to or not.

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    #80198

    Mike Carnell
    Participant

    Withheld,
    There seems to be a lot of holes in the article. The one that really bothered me the most was potraying Mike as the “Father of Six Sigma.” The only person I know who says this is Mike and I am pretty sure in his heart he doesn’t believe it either. Motorola has a publication that was available from Motorola University that is titled “Bill Smith, Father of Six Sigma” not Bill and Mike. That part I consider disrespectful of Bill Smith but then USA Today made a pretty crude remark in reference to Bill Smith and Six Sigma not that long ago.
    For those who witnessed the Great Six Sigma debate when the Quality Congress was held in Indianapolis heard Mike also stand on stage and profess that SS could be used to solve world hunger. It was an interesting comment considering when many consultants work through project selection they will frequently provide criteria “norrow the problem down, you can’t take on world hunger.”
    The thing that Mike did do was get some people to take quality seriously. He may not be the father of SS but he is a great purveyor (as in selling not actually doing) of SS. A lot of what he did get accomplished he did with making fairly outlandish statements but he got a lot of good programs launched.
    I agree with the unlearning of the stats. The interesting part is that as those people filter up in companies the probability of being able to sell a program such as SS with some of the off-the-wall claims that got it done this time around.
    The real piece of nonsense was the intercepted email with the coded message. The mechanics don’t work particularly when you consider the possible permutations of all the languages in the world.
    Glad to see you back.

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    #80204

    RT
    Member

    Interesting article.  Can you imagine the costs incurred if the government started SS.  You could claim the savings would pay itself off but were talking about a government that funded millions of dollors on padded toilet seats and fart monitors for cows.  Do we really expect them (gov. officials) to be able to handle deployment of SS at this scale.  Brace yourself for a tax vacuum.
    Also I agree with the comment made about unlearning Stats. but once you take the drive off of a SS program it will vaporize.  It needs to constantly evolve and be fed with new trainees.

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    #80209

    Mike Carnell
    Participant

    Rt,
    You understand that there was either a manufacturer of fart monitors or someone with a grant to study the data from them that very likely did a fair amout of lobbying to get that through. The interesting part is the government funded the monitors but they didn’t come up with the idea. 
    The padded seats are in all liklyhood the function of a specification that was conjured up by someone who thought they could spec their way to quality. We ran to a thing called Mil-Q-9858 for a long time. If you sat down and read it it wasn’t a bad document (want to see this string go crazy – it was originally written in the late 50’s – 1958 I think – and it reads just like ISO except they took out the best part – cost of quality; the ISO people hate that). The bad part of 9858 was some of the completely stupid people who had to work with it (the Einstein quote “there are only two thinga which are infinite. The universe and peoples stupidity”). That is why we had padded toilet seats and $300 hammers. Actually if you did a total cost analysis on a lot of things corporations buy today it might not be that different. Take a look at the amount of 4 season testing from the automotive OEM’s because the SQE won’t sign off an SREA because everything is going just fine and that change represents risk. “17 payments to Boca Raton” – just doing their portions.
    I don’t think you un-learn stats and I think most neurosurgeons would substantiate that. You probably just don’t recall them. If you understand how to analyze data and quantify risk why wouldn’t you do it, assuming your company hold people accountable for their decisions? Now we are back to stupidity. One of those circular discussions.
    Good luck.

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    #80222

    Withheld
    Member

    Hi Mike,
    I have no dog in the “father” fight except to say that I credit Deming who credited Shewart and others. Whomever carries the torch today has many to thank – eveyone can probably agree on that. As an aside, the simple act of *claiming* credit when others are not offering it to you speaks volumes about credibility, I’d say.
    In any event, I lurk often and only jump in for enjoyment or in those rare times when I think my off the beaten path point of view will help advance the discussion.
    I always read your posts when I lurk. Be well.

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    #80234

    Mike Carnell
    Participant

    Withheld,
    The fatherhood part is really worsened when someone who’s job it is to differentiate the truth from the falsehood (the reporter) doesn’t do their job, in this case Del Jones. I don’t know anyone who has been around Mike since the 80’s when he showed up at Motorola (and not as our messiah either) who doesn’t blow off about 90% of what he says. In this case they could have established the fact pretty simply.
    AS far as giving credit Shewhart could have credited Gauss who could have credited whomever came up with the concept of 1, etc. The idea of “Breakthrough” is more directly traceable to Juran but the bottom line is most of todays thinking is a rollup of other ideas. The accomplishment of people who did the first pentium isn’t diminished because the didn’t invent silicon. We have a great layer of original thought that is really fueling the fire of the exponential change curve we are all experiencing.
    It is like the think tanks. I met some great minds at the GE research facility in Schenectady, NY. The patents they produced were great contributions to GE. The piece that hit the bottom line was the person who figured out what to do with it.
    Good luck with your lurking. I also look for your post as well.

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    #80238

    mcleod
    Member

    You are all dreaming.
    Six Sigma does not have a chance when it is pitted against the liberals who run the Democratic Party and the national media who think preserving political correctness as the expense of innocent lives is a good trade-off.   
    Using Six Sigma makes perfect sense, but only if our national leader’s number one priority was to protect us, which I don’t believe it is.  I’m thinking there is way too much political hay to be made on the Terrorism issue.  Addressing this issue with Six Sigma has one drawback, it might actually work, and that simply would not sit well with these people.
    How long do your think it would take a Black Belt to figure out that patting down the 80 year old Grandmothers at the Airport is probably a complete waste of time. While targeting 100% of Muslim men between the ages of 15 and 40 would yield some results. Not long.
    How long to you figure before Six Sigma is labeled a racist methodology and discredited.  Not long.
    I say be afraid of this one, be very afraid.

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    #80239

    Ruddy
    Participant

    Scott,How true! One quick help to the situation (prior to any Six Sigma study) would be to drastically cut immigration, and setup an automated-database on all new legal imms. Also, beef-up border security and begin to fund internal security to weed-out illegal imms. Consier the following,
    -many recent child abductions in CA were committed by illegals
    -recent Beltway sniper’s helper is an illegal
    -recent illegals were firing guns upon border patorl agents along Tex-Mex borderOnce you move past these improvements, implementing a Six Sigma approach to overall National Security program would be helpful, but would never happen based on your comments — excellent insight!Mike

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    #80240

    billybob
    Participant

    Hello folks,
    Who needs 6S for the fight against Terrosism?  All you do need it to apply some good age based racial profiling of mideasteners.
    Later,
    Billybob

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    #80244

    mcleod
    Member

    It wasn’t 19 octogenarians that high jacked and crashes airplanes into the WTC on 9/11,  but that’s who I see getting the pat downs at Airports.  It wasn’t middle aged white guys out  Bass fishing trip that took out the USS Cole.  It wasn’t a group of young moms with their kids who brought down Kobald towers in SA or the Embassies in Africa or the night club in Bali. Seems to me that if you want to stop terrorism you look for the terrorist, not for nail clippers. 
    My point was if you apply SS to the problem you will enviably come up with conclusions and solutions that you act upon at your own peril.
    Judging by your sound bite response I can see you got your money’s worth at the University of (fill in any name).  Cicero would be proud.

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    #80249

    Mike Carnell
    Participant

    Scott,
    The minute you take the randomness out of the screening you make it predictable. Once it is predictable it becomes easier to get around it. I agree with some of what you said in terms of who gets selected but unfortunatley the program doesn’t appear to have any organization or focus. We see a lot of different airports and what happens at each place is never the same.
    There are parts of the program where we could have an immediate impact. Overall six sigma won’t hurt the effort but it certainly isn’t going to put an end to terrorism. Security by nature addresses symptoms if you intend to stop terrorism you need to get to a root cause. The root causes are not in the airports, reading email and listening to phone calls.

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    #80255

    mcleod
    Member

    Mike,
    I respect your opinion.  Lets explore this.   It seems to me that in this forum we have more brainpower than what was represented in the article. At least we can go beyond the platitudes expressed by the luminaries in that article.
    I am interested in this concept of root cause of terrorism because I hear a lot people saying we need to deal with the root cause.  In my mind the root cause goes all the way back to Abraham’s treatment of Hagar and her son Ismail in the book of Genesis. Many would point to the Crusades. For others I’m sure it starts in 1948 with the birth of Israel.  Other would say the rise of Zionism at the turn of the 20th century was it. While still others would point to the Persian Gulf War.
    How do you get to root cause when it clearly is not an objective concept but more a function of ones worldview?  What’s the first project? How do we approach this? In my mind the defects have already escaped the factory.  Now we have to go out in the field and fix the problem. Or to bring this back onto the subject at hand.  Hit them so hard the ones we don’t kill, crap their pants in fear of us.

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    #80259

    Withheld
    Member

    Mike,
    I respectfully suggest that you should not participate in this thread. However bold that comment may seem, it is well-intended. The fact of the matter is that the subject deals with emotion and politics. Since you post under your real name, you have little to gain personally or professionally by entering in to such a conversation. The downside potential is real, though. Please consider this before participating further.
    I, on the other hand do not have the same considerations so I’m going to disagree with your post. I suggest you leave it to others to respond.
    Other posters have accurately pointed out that we have the ability to focus our efforts on some known sources of terrorism. Furthermore, the sources are all to happy to identify themselves for us! War was declared by the terrorists on many a videotape, remember?
    To suggest that focusing effort on a proven cause of the problem equates to removing randomness from the screening process is akin to saying that all processes on the shop floor should be treated equally for fear of introducing bias into the process. You would *never* advocate ignoring an assignable cause on the floor – especially when it jumps up and identifies itself!
    That’s the statistical part. Now the political part.
    The root cause of the problem is that we are dealing with entities who place no value on human life – their own, yours or mine. The USA sends billions upon billions upon billions of dollars to every corner of the planet in an attempt to improve the lot of the less fortunate. In return we are hated. They cannot be appeased and their hatred for their fellow human beings is beyond the civilized world’s ability to understand.
    Once we secure the safety of my family and the other families in the civilized world, I’ll be happy to sit around the campfire, sing Kumbaya and try to get in their diseased heads. Until that time, I want good, old-fashioned, expensive 100% inspection with NO REWORK OF SCRAP.
    They’ll like us when we win.

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    #80271

    Mike Carnell
    Participant

    Scott & Withheld,
    I am going to bow out of the thread because I respect the advice Withheld provided.
    I just have to get in one last word (actually a few). I believe we need containment and prevention and they are two different things. Containment is what we are doing in this case at airports. I truely fear profiling because once an effort focuses to particular characteristics the input stream can easily shift to avoid detection. Maintaining randomness can help avoid the shift. I think the this differs distinctly from a factory situation in that the inputs to a process generally focus in on some specified parameters. In this situstion the inputs have the ability to drive away from a specification to avoid detection. There is just some inherent baggage that goes with profiling that scares me in terms of the safety of some friends as well.
    Long term there are issues that cause the hatred. Scott you seem very well versed but I am not so I have to accept what you said as factual. I really can’t bellieve if we spend some time identifying what really fosters and feeds the hatred we stand a better chance of a long term solution. I am not advocating doing nothing – I would like to see parallel paths in place.
    The issue of more brain power here than in the article – no question – I agree. At least relevant brainpower. I hope we are smarter than buying into assistance from the Cowboy image (particularly since the roots are from Indiana – that is as bad as Jimmy Spencer driving stock cars).
    I’m gone. I appreciate the concern.

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