One of the key things learnt from 6Sigma is the ability to accurately measure and analyze the information your organization collects. This can be as technical or as general as your organization needs, the key is to understand the level of specificity your organization needs and analyze from there. A Black belt will be able to give you in depth analysis, but a good one will give you exactly what your organization needs. We’ll start the discussion with Multi- Vari Analysis.
What is Multi-Vari Analysis?
Simply put this puts a face to the data. Once you have collected all of your information Multi-Vari studies take the data and illustrate the patterns of variation within the data. It helps you identify group or correlations between subgroups and over time. When you can identify the groups, you can make assumption or draw conclusions based on the data. For example if your data shows the your staff made more errors on product X you can draw the conclusion that your improvement efforts need to be focused on that particular product.
What is it used to assess?
Multi-Vari studies are useful in many ways but the most standard uses are
- to illustrate data in graphics.
- to show how work is influence by defined variables.
- to show the impact of specific material, departments or methods.
- the effects of external factors such as noise, delivery delays etc.
When you need to show stakeholders, influencers or project staff what you have found multi- vari studies are a great way to produce a visual. Since most people learn by doing, a visual representation allows them to see what they have done and to show leadership the gains or losses accordingly.
We’ve spent a fair amount of time learning the ins and outs of MSA’s, so this week I want to focus on process capability and how to understand the information you receive.
What is Process Capability?
In a nutshell Process Capability is:
• What it takes for your process to meet your customers’ needs right out of the gate with no modifications. This means for lack of a better term, inherent perfection.
• The information that can be provided on centering, variation and inappropriate measurement limits.
• The baseline metric for improvement
When determining your process capability there are three types of capabilities that we analyze:
• Continuous Capability- If you process is capable and in control, ideally you should get your desired outcome. This analysis measures the life cycle of your process telling you if the process has continued to be capable and in control.
• Concept of Stability-The idea of stability is the ability to answer the question ‘will my process produce the same result at this step every time it is used?’ To be technical, stability measures the ability of your process to meet its requirements at a regular and specific interval.
• Attribute Capability-This analysis makes assumptions about your data and is always long term data.
This week we’ve just scratched the surface on Process Capability. Next week, we’ll start digging a little deeper and show some illustrations of what it looks like.
Building a business case is important to more than your improvement project, it should be one of the pillars of your decision making. A business case helps you understand why a decision is necessary, what you anticipate the solution to look like and how it will help you reach your long-term organizational goals.
Business Case Components
Strictly speaking a business case is the first direction you take in describing your project to the people who will okay the resources and the team working with the resources. At its core a business case should have the following components:
- A definition of the end product/ service that you sell to your clients.
- How your team will measure the output.
- A primary baseline (how can you measure and interpret results if you don’t have a starting line).
- An explanation of the performance gap and how that affects your business objectiv
What doesn’t it do?
A business case does not provide a magic bullet. What it does do it allow you to logically create a path to alternative solutions. The business case does not work if your team has not made a cohesive acceptance of the proposed alternative, in the case of differing opinions it may actually serve as tool that further divides the team.
Why it does work
It works because it creates focus and more often than not project teams lack a sense of focus. The best business cases create a uniform goal and team rationale. When constructing a business plan, it’s my belief that this is what you should strive for.
Change is hard and as with all of my posts, I believe in the guidance of a good belt. Talk with your belt and have a conversation about your challenges and your thoughts on solutions. Your belt is not your guru, they are a part of your solution. Utilize them.
Picking up where we left off last week, we have hit the home stretch in creating a Six Sigma framework for your organization. So let’s go over the last steps in creating your framework…
Create and Validate Measurement Dashboards
This is one of the more poignant parts of Six Sigma and it’s one of the parts that organizations most often get wrong. One of the best things about Six Sigma is its ability to expose meaningless metrics. A few years ago companies got in the habit of measuring everything, but unless the measurement will help you reach a business goal, increase quality or increase customer satisfaction, it isn’t a meaningful statistic. By validating the measurements you are forced to look at what your measuring, how you are measuring it and what those measurements mean. Putting the measurements on a dashboard means that you are committing yourself to a constant awareness of those statistics, and that is not a bad thing. It breeds accountability and problem solving, both great skills to develop in your staff.
Decide How to Incorporate Six Sigma Wins/Losses Into Your Reward System
I have always been a bit undecided on reward systems, but I am hands down in favor of recognition and praise. The key to a successful Six Sigma infrastructure is to engrain the behavior into your corporate reward system. The great thing about 6Sigma is that it is continuous, which means in terms of a reward system there will always be something to recognize and therefore reward.
Decide the Amount of Dedicated Resources
To succeed, Six Sigma needs to have a dedicated amount of financial, intellectual, staff and infrastructural resources. I’ve always said and will say again, that Six Sigma is not a quick fix. It is a methodology that requires a total commitment to seeing the project through to the end. That journey also requires those involved to acknowledge the need for and to implement change. So if you are thinking of assigning a part-time champion or resources on a trial basis, 6Sigma is probably not the program for you. If you are looking for a long-term solution, then you are ready to walk down the aisle.
Create a Strategy of Continuous Evaluation
Six Sigma requires that you always be diligent and that is what makes most people oppose it. Let’s be frank the requirements in the beginning ask for a lot of heavy lifting and to keep this marriage happy, you have to keep going to therapy and working on the issues. It never ends and that is what is great about Six Sigma, it doesn’t allow you to quit even when it looks like you don’t need it. You never get to say I’m perfect and that’s perfect because no company is omnipotent and you should never take your clients for granted.
Next week we will recap what we have learned about creating a Six Sigma infrastructure, until then…what are you waiting for? Go get started!