As we continue our journey in Six Sigma it seems pertinent to discuss the different types of distributions you will see in your analysis. Let’s start with one at a time. The most common distribution is the Normal Distribution and here’s what you should know about it.
First, what is a distribution?
Simply put, a distribution will tell you how often a variable occurs in your process. This is important because the commonness of your variables will inevitable create a foundation for your improvement project.
Types of Distribution
The Normal Distribution
A normal distribution (Gaussian Curve, the average person knows it as the Bell Curve) shows a equal distribution. The mean (the average) divides the data in half, 50% on the data on each side of the mean. The Normal Distribution will have the following hallmarks:
This distribution is considered to be the most important distribution.
The area under the curve should equal 1.
Physical aspects of the curve should resemble a hill and should be symmetrical.
Both directions on either side of the mean extend indefinitely and never touch the horizontal axis.
White noise in your process should produce a normal curve shape
The Z distribution has a mean of 0 and a standard deviation of 1.
The mean (average), median (mid-point) and the mode (most common value) should be the same data value.
Next week, it’s on to non-normal classifications. Get to analyzing and if you need any help, reach out and let us know!
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.
As we cover Six Sigma Statistics, I want to make sure that I go over the illustrative part of the statistics. We know Six Sigma is technical but the key to making it stick, is to make it simple and understood by the non-technical people using it. So let’s talk about the Box Plot or the Whisker Plot. A key thing to remember in Six Sigma is that everyone using different terminology, so ask questions and make sure you are speaking the same language.
What is a Box Plot?
Simply put a box plot helps to put a picture to the data showing you where most of the data falls, how the data is distributed and where the outliers are. So it basically shows you what you’ve got, how it looks and what is unusual about it.
What does it measure?
Say you have a process that has multiple variables affecting it and you want to know what is what. If you have a delivery truck with 4 alternative routes a box plot can show you which ones, according to the data, are the most problematic. Additionally a box plot will tell you how symmetrical your data is. Knowing if your data is skewed or not can affect how you interpret your data. In a box plot, if the data is mostly symmetrical the median will appear in the middle of the box and the whiskers will appear to be mostly the same length. IF the data is skewed to one direction, the median will not be in the middle and the whiskers will be different sizes.
How does it work?
Box plot measurements are based on quartiles and the distributions are shown within the graphic. Think back to your SAT’s or ACT’s. Remember how they told you that you scored in the 25th percentile? Well that’s a box plot. You will have an upper limit and a lower limit and those limits will be determined by your organization’s goals. The outliers will be the extreme values, values that are so far outside of the normal distribution that it is unlikely they will be reproduced.
Interpreting your data is just as important as gathering it, so choose carefully and with purpose. Talk to your belt and use that advice to help you find the best method for your organization.
Continuing on my mission to make Six Sigma something that anyone can understand, today I want to keep the statistics conversation going with the scaled data, scales of measurement and what they mean to your company. There are four scales of measurement in Six Sigma to consider: Nominal, Ordinal, Interval and Ratio.
Nominally Scaled Data
This is the most basic scale and basically tells you whether the information is different or not. This applies to your business in the sense that it tells you the baseline in a yes or no format. Think along the lines of ‘does your customer buy product x’? The answer can only be yes or no.
Ordinal Scaled Data
This data applies to data that can be arranged in a specific order but you cannot distinguish what makes the data different. If you are looking for an answer to why a defect is happening, ordinal data is not going to answer that question.
Interval Scaled Data
This is the sweet spot in terms of data analysis, in this scale the data is able to be arranged in a way that tells you why the defect is happening in specific scenarios. Think along the lines of you need to know why you make more sales on Saturdays. You can measure the sales on Saturdays, the specials you offered on Saturday and how many sales corresponded to the specials offered on Saturday.
Ratio Scale Data
This scale is the most advanced analytic method. When you use this method you have data that has an absolute value and when you get a value of 0 is shows that there is no correlation between the variable and the measurement. For example, you have 10 programmers and programmer A completes 20 lines of code, programmer B completes 15 lines of code. If programmer C actually completes) lines of code, then you can say that no code was completed on that specific day.
Knowing how to analyze data is a big tool in your Six Sigma tool bag. Now this is not an exhaustive list, but when you sit down to meet with your belt now you know what you need to ask and what the belts information should be telling you. When you are ready to get started, let us know and we can help you.
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.