This blog is about Six Sigma data analysis. Because statistics are such a big part of the Six Sigma world, it makes sense that we talk about the data that is gathered and what it means. So here we go….
There are different types of data and anytime you measure something you going to need how to interpret it. There are two main types of data: attributive and variable.
Some people call this the most basic form of data, but for business purposes I don’t accept that. Qualitative data is simple in the fact that it is generally data that can be gathered by asking a yes or no question. For example, ‘Did they buy the new product?’ What is limiting about attributive data is that you really can’t analyze the results in a meaningful way, but it can give you a pretty good place to set your focus.
Variable data is also called quantitative and this is the data that you can measure and analyze. In order to decide if data you have is variable ask yourself these questions:
- Can you classify the data and count the results? (Think number of defects for a particular product line)? If you can this is called discrete data and the limitation of discrete data is that it cannot be broken down into smaller measurements to create additional meaning. It’s a one hit wonder.
- Can the data be measured on a time line with meaningful divisions (Think time, production speed, delivery dates etc…) If you can this is called continuous data and it can be divided further to create additional data.
As with all of these blogs, this is to get you started and statistical data clearly has more to it than one paragraph. But information is the first step and one you know what type of data you have, you have a better idea of what you need to know. Give us call and we can help you create where you need to go next.
In this blog we have talked about a lot about the tools used in a change project, but I think that it is time we talk about the information that drives the project-the statistics. The old adage is that the numbers never lie, but when you work with statistics you know that is a relative statement. The numbers can and do lie, usually it comes down to interpretation. So here are some basic things to remember when looking at the statistics your change project will provide.
- Understand that statistics are the foundations of 6Sigma, when you don’t understand a tool remember that everyone participating in a 6Sigma project will understand the statistics.
- The purpose of a statistic is to give you a numerical value for the information collected and analyzed. In other words when you measure something the statistics tell you why the measurement is important.
- The measurements give you a place to start from, whether that is a place to improve or a place to maintain. (Of course in continuous improvement, there is no place to maintain! Always improve!)
- Statistics serve as a common denominator, like everything else they can be taken to the extreme but they create a common language and equalize knowledge. Everyone can know and understand the same thing based on the numbers. Statistics can eliminate personality flaws, individual perception and provide your team with a singular focus.
- The single most important purpose of statistics is the ability to create a new group of problem solvers. Once the group has a common goal they can then began brainstorming for innovative solutions thanks to the data. So numbers=innovation!
As with all things 6Sigma the difficulty level lies within the practitioner. If you want a bunch of charts and reports that can only be interpreted by the consultant, you can find that. If you want to understand how the numbers can help you, give us a call and we will get you started.
This week we will continue our discussion on process mapping, I promise it will not go on forever, but it does have a lot of intricacies. Many people think that process mapping is just putting some shapes on a diagram, but it means much more than that. There are 3 levels of process mapping that are commonly accepted among the 6Sigma crowd.
Level 1 –The Macro Process Map
This is typically how management views the processes of the organization; it’s a big picture, future strategy kind of view. It also creates the ability for management to see how to position the organization or resources in a way that complements the product/service being created. This is a high-level map which generally includes:
- Activities that relate to one major process step
- How the process fits into the big picture
- Little specific detail
- Visualizes only major process steps
- Can be used with only a general understanding of the purpose of the process and its steps.
Level 2-Process Map
This is the worker bee process map, where the people who have specific knowledge of the process come in. This is the map that is used to identify all the major steps a worker takes to complete a process. Within Level 2, there are 4 types of process maps:
- Linear Flow- A straight line from beginning to end.
- Swim Lane-shows you who is responsible for what task.
- SIPOC-a little more complicated. It takes five areas: your suppliers, your inputs, your process, your outputs and your customers.
- Value Stream-a specific map that helps to visualize and understand the metrics for the performance of major steps.
Level 3-Process Flow Diagram
Level 3 is not a must because this is a micro process map. It is where you zero in on a specific area and focus on the steps in the process that are causing whatever challenge you are having. When beginning this level you need to ask the following questions:
- Which steps contributed to the problem?
- Where would the problem most likely have occurred?
- Are there elements to the product/service that lend itself to the problem?
These questions help you find the focus that you decided in your problem statement. For this to work you will have to break each step in the process down, most easily using SIPOC. Remember a Level 3 map should include:
- All process flows
- Any set points
- Any standard or automated procedures
- Inputs and outputs (specify if the are controllable or non-controllable)
- Defects per unit
- Yield and rolled throughput yield
- Value and non value added activities
It’s a lot of information, but mapping a process is a fundamental step in your improvement project. It is absolutely critical that you get it right. For more help or more information, give us a call and we will be happy to get you started.
6Sigma Tools: Design for Six Sigma (DFSS)
6Sigma can be so many things to your organization, but the most important thing to remember is that is has to relevant to your organization. This requirement is what makes Design for Six Sigma or DFSS such an asset to any organization looking towards a lean strategy. Technically speaking DFSS is not 6Sigma but an alternative methodology, but I think the ability to integrate exists. DFSS if often used interchangeably with DMADV but the key difference is that DMADV is used to eliminate defects and variation, while DFSS is used to create new or replacement processes.
What is it?
DFSS stands for Design for Six Sigma and its main function is to assist in improvements by creating a new design or redesign of a product/service at base level. In essence it is the foundation on which process improvements can be built. It is a cross functional activity that relies on forecasting at its core. DFSS projects operate based on the IDOV methodology.
Why should I use it?
DFSS provides many advantages to your organization such as:
- Improved speed
- Improved accuracy
- Increased customer satisfaction
- Decreased labor costs
What does it look like?
The chart above is from sixsigmaworld.blogspot and it is the simplest version of DFSS that I have found.
What doesn’t it do?
DFSS is different from 6Sigma in the fact that it creates efficiency as the process is being built, whereas typical 6Sigma deals with improvements to variations and defects after a process has already been implemented. So if you are looking to correct an issue, DFSS is not going to help you much. If you are looking to scrap the current and begin again, then DFSS is a great fit.
As with all things on this blog, this is a technique best utilized with the guidance and expertise of your belt. I hoped I have demystified it a bit and helped you to start a dialogue with your belt.
Six Sigma has gotten a sometimes well deserved rap for being overly-complicated, but this is a tool that is the antithesis of that reputation. It does involve metrics but the bulk of the focus is on strategic planning. Strategic planning means many things to organizations, but within the lens of a 6Sigma strategy it should mean a road map to the best version of your organization.
What is a Future State Vision?
A Future State Vision is basically what it says; it is a concrete plan for the most desired state of your business. Think of it as a more specific path to your company’s vision board. This is where you create the details that will get you to the goals on that vision board.
What does it look like?
How do you use it?
The tricky thing about a Future State strategy is that you have to come up with the end before you can address how you will get there. So to begin with you will actually start at the end and the how whole point of the strategy is to figure out the most practical (in terms of manpower, expense and resources) path to get there.
What does it do?
The Future Strategy does not provide you with a road map for your current problems. The metrics you use for this strategic should resemble your operational metrics, but they should not be exactly the same because your outcome for this strategy will be different. This is a big picture operational strategy so your metrics should be performing at a macro level when you turn your attention to this strategy. What it does do is help your staff to create meaningful big picture metrics, so low hanging fruit will not work here. This tool will be a great asset to upper level management responsible for creating organization wide strategy.
As with all my Six Sigma tools, this is just a template. Your specifics will lie in the knowledge your belt will bring in drafting this tool specifically for your organization at an executive level. So what are you waiting for? Start dreaming.