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Time for change?

Six Sigma – iSixSigma Forums General Forums General Time for change?

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  • #53460

    Vadrevu
    Member

    I am sure a lot of you may have noticed how many companies like to give their own spin to their six sigma effort. While consulting with some of these, I come across reasons such as, “there was a strong resistance to the extreme numbers / statistics focus”, “did not fully meet our requirements”, “did not have enough of content on innovation”… stuff like that.

    I put a post on this at my blog at http://asciance.blogspot.com/ and am keen on learning what the experts and specialists in this forum think about it. Feel free to respond either here or on the blog, I’ll be monitoring both.

    Sri

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    #190190

    Cone
    Participant

    Same old tripe that has been written for 20+ years.

    Six Sigma is not your system or your strategy, It is part of the first and an enabler to the second.

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    #190193

    Vadrevu
    Member

    Sure it is the same old tripe. That only means it has been a consistent ‘voice of the customer’. Point is what are we doing about it… even as managers struggle to make changes in the ‘classic’ model, each time it is implemented. Surely this is a call for Six Sigma 2.0, with more emphasis on customer satisfaction (delight?) instead of merely removing defects; more tools for coming up with innovative solutions – going beyond the voice of the customer – anticipating needs even before they are felt, let alone voiced.

    The core methodology that six sigma offers indeed has the capability. Isn’t it time a new ‘standard’ methodology is developed that incorporates the changing world?

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    #190194

    Cone
    Participant

    You are talking in platitudes.

    Offer something concrete.

    To suggest that you are the “voice of the customer” is a bit arrogant, don’t you think?

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    #190195

    Vadrevu
    Member

    Gary,

    I am a customer of six sigma – and a passionate one at that. I ‘bought’ six sigma as an Operations Manager and continue to use it today. So, I have no hesitation in saying my opinion qualifies as VOC. Also, as consultant, I hear many customers saying what I have quoted above. In fact you seem to be confirming that by calling my comments “same old tripe”.

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    #190196

    Michael Fincher
    Participant

    I think the reason they put their own spin on it is because they do not start at the beginning. I too was the President of my own consultant company and found that most companies just send their employees searching through the woods without showing them where the start of the path is. Once they understand what path to use, typically they will get to the end goal. I actually just released a book on this exact same subject. It shows those that do not know how to get started a place to start from.

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    #190197

    Cone
    Participant

    “same old tripe” is meant to tell you that you don’t have a clue.

    One person’s opinion doesn’t make VOC, if you knew sis sigma you would know that.

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    #190198

    Vadrevu
    Member

    Thanks. I will let other readers decide for themselves.

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    #190203

    Kluttz
    Member

    I did a project for a manufacturing company that specifically tasked us with utililizing Six Sigma to develop a breakthrough technology solution for their product weight variation issues. They would have gladly written a blank check for a super-whammodyne automation control system (they had budgeted about a million bucks). Needless to say, they we big on innovation.
    So what did we do?
    We did a bunch of GR&R’s, found out that their measurement systems were grossly inadequate and were the real reason behind their variation issues (and product quality problems). We spent about $4k on some pressure sensors, corrected the installation on some thermocouples, properly tuned a couple controllers and reduced their weight variation by over 60%.
    Anova’s, control charts, mini-DOE’s, histograms and paretos – the statistics WERE the innovation. If you can’t measure it, you can’t control it. If you can’t control it, you can’t improve it.
    You can come up with some slickly re-packaged methodology, or you can just deliver results.

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    #190205

    MBBinWI
    Participant

    And if that hadn’t been sufficient, well then we utilize Design for Six Sigma to identify the critical factors (from the VOC), break paradigms of design concepts, desensitize as much as possible, optimize the nominal, and control the production so that the optimal is always delivered.

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    #190206

    MBBinWI
    Participant

    “Same old tripe” refers to the paradigm prevalent in many. Some are scared of statistics because they were never properly introduced to the topic and shown the relevance to everything that they do. Others have made their mark by having an inherent ability to judge the odds and make the decisions and “uncloaking the magic” will de-throne them. Others prefer to make decisions by fiat and don’t want some smart alec who can whip out a box and whisker plot or do an ANOVA based on real data to undercut their rule.
    Your thinking if acceeded to by Columbus, would have us still living in Europe. Just because someone says it’s so doesn’t make it so. And just as it took a good 130 yrs from when Columbus sailed the ocean blue before the Mayflower made the first major push on colonization, so too is it taking Lean/Six Sigma to colonize. And similarly, there will be colonists who decide the challenges are more than they can take and go home, so will there be organizations who try and fail at LSS implementation. But there are those that are succeeding, and they will ultimately dominate in their markets.
    One must not take VOC as “truth”.

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    #190207

    Kluttz
    Member

    Henry Ford’s take on VOC

    “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said ‘faster horses’ “

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    #190208

    Mikel
    Member

    Stan’s take on VOC –

    “When I want your opinion, I’ll beat it out of you.”

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    #190212

    Vadrevu
    Member

    Thanks Guys. I really did not expect a cry of “Hurray! At last somebody has spoken the truth!”
    However, I must say I am a little disappointed that the responses are straying away from focus… more so from six sigma guys!
    Please note that I am:
    [ol][/ol] Myself a Six Sigma Champion and NOT a basher! (In fact, possibly, with nearly 10 years of practice behind me, I may have done more ‘pure’ six sigma projects than some of my respondents here!)
    [ol][/ol] I firmly believe that the DMAIC / DMADV methodologies are powerful way stations in problem solving.
    [ol][/ol] Also, I am not talking about conventional businesses such as Manufacturing, etc. I am talking about adoption of six sigma in the new businesses on the internet and mobile space…knowledge / information intensive & growing sectors.

    What I am arguing for is to strengthen it with more tools drawn from other successful problem solving disciplines. Today we do it in an ad hoc way. Each unto him/herself. When a novice reads about six sigma, s/he reads a lot of statistics. A lot of jargon, discipline, time-taking steps and the works. Many of us are also prone to show case their hard-earned knowledge by using more tools / statistics than the project really calls for.
    [ul][/ul]I am also asking: Does a rigorous process discipline work to ‘dis-empower’ a motivated / creative employee?

    Let me mention 2 anecdotes…
    [ul][/ul]Robert Nardelli, used Six Sigma to take Home Depot to # 1 Retailer. Profitability soared – but at a cost. Gradually, worker morale drooped and customer sentiment followed. His successor, Frank Blake (also GE) is dialing back giving more lee way to Store Managers.
    [ul][/ul] Ann Fudge, (also GE), CEO, tried to sell Six Sigma to ad executives at Young & Rubicam – and flamed out quickly
    [ul][/ul]Dave Carter is going slow with Six Sigma in its application to innovative processes at Raytheon. “Most Six Sigma practitioners are very strong on the left brain, innovation very much starts in the right hemisphere”

    Of course we can dismiss this as ‘noise’ or stray incidents. I’d rather place it in the larger context of a new generation that is less patient, that is more creative and more socially networked.

    We need to place it in the context of today’s generation that does not wear a watch… no time for a single-purpose gadget!

    I would invite the audience and respondents here to discuss new tools, new methods that may have experimented with which have enabled wider adoption; penetration in to the younger generation, etc.
    To kick off, I am giving below a few little tweaks that have worked for me (not necessarily my original ideas :-): (Pl. also note that none of them are radical. Just little tweaks that need to feature increasingly in standard six sigma training and coaching.)
    [ol][/ol] Giving a fancy, catchy name to the team / project and setting up a website / yahoogroup / facebook page for the team to share ideas and progress online.
    [ol][/ol] Borrowing creative thinking methods from Edward De Bono and IDEOS to better structure brainstorming sessions
    [ol][/ol] Making Moments of truth analysis and focus a must-have in all external customer touching processes
    [ol][/ol] Defining Six Sigma as a Problem Solving Methodology, rather than one that merely “eliminates defects”

    I would welcome champions of six sigma here to add their own tweaks, so we have a revamped toolkit that can take six sigma to the new audience.

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    #190216

    Kluttz
    Member

    First of all, Home Depot had deployed Six Sigma well before Bob Nardelli got there (and their morale problems had more to do with him being a total jerkface, as a former HD employee described him to me, than anything to do with Six Sigma). So your knowledge of history is lacking.
    Secondly, you want to move Six Sigma out of manufacturing and traditional industries? Wow! How revolutionary! Viva innovacion! if only someone had thought about that 25 years ago.
    Oh wait, they did.
    You want to dress up six sigma in RocaWear jeans and a tank top from Hot Topic? Good for you. But there are consulting companies that exist for the sole purpose of cleaning up after consultants like you.
    Do you really think a facebook page is going to get people who otherwise wouldn’t care about statistics to embrace six sigma? That reminds me of the Office episode when Ryan decides to add a social networking site to Dunder Mifflin’s online paper ordering website.
    I think it would quickly turn into a target for derision and mockery.
    Demonstrate a track record of delivering results. If you can’t sell then, then no facebook page will save you.

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    #190217

    Vadrevu
    Member

    Well Union, good to know you had the patience to read thru my post / reply.

    So, six sigma failed in Home depot because the CEO has a jerk face. OK…
    But you say I “want to move Six Sigma out of manufacturing and traditional industries”. Wonder where you got that?

    I must tell you that, your sarcasm clouds some of your perceptive comments.

    But, lets come back to the point…
    You obviously think statistics is integral to six sigma and cannot be separated from it. That’s a respectable point of view. No issues with that.
    But, are you saying its fine if Six Sigma remains within manufacturing and traditional industries? Not sure about that. Maybe you should confirm.

    Also…
    [ul]What about looking at six sigma as a problem solving methodology, rather than only for eliminating defects?
    What do you think of Borrowing creative thinking methods from others to better structure brainstorming sessions?
    Making Moments of truth?[/ul]

    I’d love to see your comments on those points as well. Its OK, have your fun as you respond… It makes it a little difficult for me, but I can (eventually) extract what I want from it…

    If we keep this going for a while, I’m sure we will get somewhere meaningful.

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    #190219

    Kluttz
    Member

    Six Sigma has been used outside of manufacturing for decades. I don’t work in manufacturing and we’ve been using LSS for a while now. That was my point. And very few companies, if any, use only traditional Six Sigma tools and only use it to identify defects. And I doubt there’s any respectable Six Sigma training that doesn’t include methodologies for creative brainstorming. And I would bet that you’d have a hard time finding anyone (other than yourself) who thinks that Six Sigma is only for “eliminating defects”. So you’re not really saying anything new.
    And I think it’s safe to say that the ability to measure process performance is an integral part of ANY process improvement initiative. And yes, some elements of statistical anlysis are required to do that adequately. And those principles apply just as thoroughly to a web company as that do a widget company. So until facebook starts offering a hypothesis testing option, you’re only dumbing down the methodology and covering it in glitter and unicorns.
    But here’s what happens when you do that – you blindly “improve” processes that aren’t capable of meeting customer expectations OR you improve a process only to create a bottleneck at the downstream process OR you slap up some dashboards & andon lights and hope you can cash the companies check before they realize that nothing actually improved.
    You know the kind of people who say statistics are over-rated? The kind of people who can’t be bothered to learn statistics.

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    #190226

    MBBinWI
    Participant

    Vadrevus: Six Sigma, by definition, is statistics based and if you consider elements of a distribution outside of acceptance boundaries “defects” (most would), then yes, it is about eliminating defects.
    There are many problem solving methods/tools. Lean is one that focuses on wastes (defects being a significant subset, but not the only one). You might want to familiarize yourself with 8D methodology for managing and solving problems.
    You seem to want to make SS something that it’s not, instead of putting it in your toolbox with other good tools that you can select from based on the issue you are faced with. Don’t try to make SS a Swiss knife, all you get is a mess that doesn’t really do anything very well. Better to have a few very good tools that cover the majority of the issues you face and be very competent at applying them.
    Just my humble opinion.

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    #190227

    MBBinWI
    Participant

    MBBinWI’s corrollary to Stan’s take on VOC:

    “When I want your opinion, I’ll tell you what it is.”

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    #190234

    Vadrevu
    Member

    Thanks again. We are making progress. Good to see we have shed sarcasm… it’s definitely an easier read now! :-)

    I take Union’s point that “very few companies, if any, use only traditional Six Sigma tools and only use it to identify defects.” Yet, six sigma training and its core definition is still stuck there. For example Wikipedia says, “Six Sigma is a business management strategy …seeks to improve the quality of process outputs by identifying and removing the causes of defects (errors) and minimizing variability in manufacturing and business processes”
    CIO.com… “Six Sigma is a management philosophy… that emphasizes setting extremely high objectives, collecting data, and analyzing results to a fine degree as a way to reduce defects in products and services.”
    The Glossary in this very website says, “The goal of Six Sigma is to increase profits by eliminating variability, defects and waste that undermine customer loyalty.”
    MBBin WI’s “Six Sigma, by definition, is statistics based … yes, it is about eliminating defects.” is in line with these definitions.

    You could get more definitions from other sources. This is the focus I am talking about. It would be nice to have that focus shift to problem solving –because six sigma’s methodology can and is being in this much broader framework.

    For me, Union’s point that, “And yes, some elements of statistical analysis are required to do that adequately. And those principles apply just as thoroughly to a web company as that do a widget company. ” (emphasis mine) is spot on!

    I also wholly agree with Union’s statement that “very few companies, if any, use only traditional Six Sigma tools and only use it to identify defects” .

    But what is “integral” to six sigma?
    To me the real power of six sigma, lies in the following (not exclusive, you could add some more):
    [ul][ol]DMAIC / DMADV
    Team-based (Diagonal slice)
    Defect Opportunity
    Openness to tools from other disciplines[/ol][/ul]
    The differentiator certainly is Statistics (Don’t know of any other methodology that uses it so extensively and so well)
    There are hundreds of tools that can be used along the way – and many of them are statistical; but frankly if I saw a project that follows the four “powers” above and delivers results (#1), I would not hesitate to call it a six sigma project!
    Said differently if a single manager followed all the “powers” above (except Team), used statistical tools and delivered results (#2), I would hesitate (at least a bit) to call it a six sigma project.
    Finally, if I saw everything else but not DMAIC / DMADV, (#3), I would definitely say that was NOT a Six Sigma project!.

    I would love to see which of these three projects YOU would call a six sigma project and which not… #1 / #2 / #3?

    Now, there’s where I am coming from. I would greatly appreciate it if you guys could comment on this take.

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    #190235

    Vadrevu
    Member

    Incidentally, I am sending this URL to some BB / MBB friends of mine to seek their opinions as well. Would appreciate it if you could do that as well. Lets get some more opinions on this. Thanks.

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    #190239

    Cone
    Participant

    Your assertion that the youngsters in this are different and more innovative is funny in a week that an old guy has taken over leadership in technology. It’s Steve Jobs and there is no doubt it is his guidance behind Apple and Pixar. He is now the biggest stockholder and member of the board of Disney as well.

    I know you will not like it but 40 and 50 year olds are the ones making a difference in industry right now and when the youngsters mature, they will get their chance.

    Your assertions are nonsense.

    Why would I want to send this to anyone who actually is good at this? You want more people to just pile on?

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    #190247

    Vadrevu
    Member

    Gary,
    I have no issues with 40/50 yr olds taking over the tech world – or any other for that matter. You have no idea which side I am – or do you? :-)

    I am also OK, if you don’t feel like sharing with others, who might ‘pile on’.

    In any case, you’d be more of a six sigma professional if you elaborated a bit on your ‘non sense’ comment. maybe next time you have some time you could do that so we know what Six Sigma means to YOU.

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    #190249

    Cone
    Participant

    vadrevus,

    You said “I’d rather place it in the larger context of a new generation that is less patient, that is more creative and more socially networked.”

    That is the point of my saying nonsense. Less patient? How about less focused? More creative? Creativity in inherent in your genes, unless some of the chemicals from the 60’s forward have mutated the gene pool, nothing has changed. More socially networked? Yes there are more relationships via electronics, but there is evidence that it is part of the focus issue. Besides, any employer worth their salt tells their employees to leave that nonsense at home. And if any of your assertions are correct, it is because the 40 and 50 year olds are allowing it to happen. Allowing people to use their creativity is a good thing. Allowing people to be unfocused is a bad thing.

    I agree with many of your points by the way. You have to open up your thinking to include more than what has traditionally been called defects. I personally go after any use of resource over what is necessary. I also go after the blank sheets of paper – process and product not yet cast in concrete – over continuing to fix poorly conceived existing processes.

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    #190251

    Vadrevu
    Member

    Hey Gary,
    Lets park our ‘generational’ differences…. we’ll unnecessarily digress.
    I like the point you are making about defects. Why not we explore an alternate definition of defect – something broader, so that we could use six sigma’s traditional focus on defect, but define it more broadly than “outside customer specs” / “violates the CTQ.”? I’d love hear your take on it!

    Also, you’d have done me a favor if you could give your opinion on which of the three cases (#1 / #2 / #3) you would / would not consider a six sigma project.
    (Think of it as a service to all those aspiring quality professionals that may read this.)

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    #190265

    MBBinWI
    Participant

    A defect is anything not absolutely perfect, done at anything more than the least possible cost, and done at any production rate other than that where the product is ready just in time for a customer to accept it. Anything other then meeting these parameters provides opportunity for improvement, and therefore is a defect.

    The level of acceptable defect is based on customer acceptability (which changes over time), competitive pressure (which changes over time), and techonology development (that changes over time). Thus, the acceptance levels are continually changing and therefore the need for “continual improvement” is never-ending.

    I feel that much of your thesis is that SS must incorporate other non-statistical tools and “broaden” its’ tool set to become everything for everybody. That is foolish. SS is a statistical methodology. DMAIC provides a framework for developing the proper information to support the statistical analysis.

    There are many other CI processes that are also useful, for the right issue to be solved, just as SS is not the proper tool for every problem. Too many in this area become dogmatic with their specific “hammer”, trying to pound every problem with their tool.

    I consider myself more of a CI practitioner than a SS person. I continually try to learn new tools and methods, particularly when I come across a problem that doesn’t fit one of my current tools. TOC, Lean, SS, DfSS (with it’s own huge array of tools not generally fitting in with the DMAIC crowd), 8D, etc. all have their uses for issues for which they are appropriate.

    Calling a screwdriver a toolbox only does a disservice to the screwdriver. Use it for what it was designed to do. Trying to convert it into a swiss army knife only gives users lots of mediocre things that don’t do anything very well.

    Just my humble opinion.

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