What is Six Sigma?

Lean Six Sigma belt levels use statistics and data analysis 5 S tools to reduce or eliminate errors and defects. This process aims to reduce manufacturing defects to 3.4 per million units.

Six Sigma provides organizations with tools that help them improve their management skills. This increases performance and decreases process variation allowing for a reduction in defect rates, employee morale, and improved quality products and services. All of these factors contribute to higher profitability.

Six Sigma is a collection of management tools and techniques that are designed to increase the ability of a business process by reducing error rates. Six Sigma, a data-driven methodology, uses statistical methods to eliminate defects, reduce defects, and improve profit.

Digital Transformation is the buzzword of this decade. As companies compete for more business in a competitive market, new technologies, and tools support the company’s transformation journey. But is this enough to speed up a company’s transformation? Is it possible to remove production bottlenecks or fix a service design problem with standalone technology? While digital transformation can accelerate a company’s growth it must be supported equally by management methods of business transformation and quality control.

Can a Quick Win Bite You In the A$$?

I (Kevin Clay) was teaching a Lean Six Sigma Green Belt course in Atlanta, Georgia and I had a good question about “Six Sigma Quick Wins” and how to define the term.

We teach that in each phase of the DMAIC, we will find these “Quick Wins”. These wins are a great tool to sustain excitement and support for the Lean Six Sigma project! If I go four to six months until I show improvement, I’m likely to lose support. If I show sustained improvements in small (and sometimes large) wins throughout the life of the project, then the level of excitement (and consequently support) is sustained.

What are the six sigma 5 S belt levels?
What are the six sigma 5 S belt levels?

The term “Quick Wins” is open to interpretation. I have sat on many teams that term every opportunity (some call problems) that they see in a process as a “Quick Win”. This is because it is innate in us to want to “solve the problem now” because we are sure that we have the solution and it doesn’t need to be analyzed further. What we may not have defined yet may be the interdependencies in the inputs in the process. My experience especially with new Six Sigma tools team levels that come from a Lean background is that determining significant inputs by analyzing metrics through multi-vari analysis and/or Design of Experiments (DOE) scares the “bejeezus” out of a lot of people! It is a lot easier to make a judgment call, point at what you think is the target, and hope that you hit it.

But I digress. Defining “Quick Wins” was the question that was posed. How do I define what is considered a quick win? My definition is based in one sense on already accepted best practices that have been analyzed and risk-managed. I find that in most of my Lean and Six Sigma projects accepted standards are not controlled therefore they are not followed. They are effective improvements that do not need to be reinvented in our Lean and/or Six Sigma project. They just need to be controlled.

Another definition is a more loose definition. A quick win can be defined as any “common sense” fix. In this case, we intimately understand how the “X” will affect the “Y”. This can be the “Slippery Slope” because the level of “common sense” is left up to interpretation. My control for this is to run a quick D-FMEA in order to risk manage even the “quick wins”.