5 Whys


5 Whys is commonly listed more as a Lean tool than Six Sigma because it isn’t rigorously data-based, but it can be particularly useful, especially to Belts who get trapped in the minutiae and don’t step back to see the bigger picture (see “Other Options”). The simple idea is to keep asking “Why” (usually five times) to ensure that the root cause(s) of the effects are fully understood. The reasoning is that the result of each time the Why is asked gives a different answer, in essence peeling back the layers.

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The Six Sigma Project Charter (Six Sigma Define Phase)

Over the upcoming weeks I will be doing a series of articles centered on the primary tools used by Six Sigma practitioners during the DMAIC (Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, Control) life cycle. My hope is that it will help my readers better understand the tools that they have at hand. The articles will not be in depth or overly techie as there are numerous books and online resources for further research. They instead will be articles based on the how-to of Six Sigma tools, along with links and resources I will create to assist my readers with hitting the ground running. Continue reading “The Six Sigma Project Charter (Six Sigma Define Phase)”

Daddy what is Six Sigma?

“Daddy what is Six Sigma?” I hear my 11 year old daughter ask from the passenger seat as we get ready to leave the bookstore where I had purchased a Six Sigma book. I thought of what to say and for some reason the definition that follows just did not seem appropriate.

Six Sigma Textbook Definition : The Six Sigma methodology is a business-management strategy designed to improve the quality of process outputs by minimizing variation and causes of defects in processes. It is a subset of the TQM methodology with a heavy focus on statistical applications used to reduce costs and improve quality. It sets up a special infrastructure within the organization that is specifically trained in statistical methods and problem solution approaches that serve as the experts in these approaches.

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Sow and grow. Or why Six Sigma needs time to take root.

I am sitting in the plant managers office, waiting on the lean engineer to join us and start the meeting on a new project for our infantile Six Sigma initiative of which I am a newly vested black belt in (at the time). I have crunched the numbers and analyzed the data and know for a fact that my project will easily hit the 50K minimum set forth by the plant manager as a requirement for a black belt project.

The lean engineer finally arrives and after fiddling with a wireless display that won’t work with my surface pro I promptly load my power point onto a thumb drive and pass of to the lean engineer to clumsily navigate my power point presentation outlining my project proposal.

I am feeling good halfway through the project as I am clearly showing that the project will easily save the company upwards of 65-85k annually through the reduction of variance in one of our components. What’s more is it will easily be transferable to other manufacturing processes on our shop floor if the other processes are suffering from the same causal relationship.

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