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.
First Time Yield (FTY) is a traditional metric that tells you how many defects your process produces for before any improvement is done. Generally this measurement is used in the manufacturing or production field, but it can make the switch to your office easily. The formula for FTY is:
FTY: Total Unit Passed/Total Units Tested
So if you work at a membership organization and you processed 120 retirement requests and found that 50 requests were entered incorrectly, our FTY is .58 %. 70 is the total number of request entered correct or passed and the total number of units tested is 120 retirement requests.
If your process has multiple measurement areas, you will need to perform a FTY for every measureable step in the process. The great about FTY is that it is one of the simplest metrics in 6Sigma and it creates a create illustration of the current state of your process
What does it look like?
A FTY can look like any typical graph you have seen, but most will resemble the chart below. My fancier ones include the curve illustration for clients that highlight the cost of these errors to the client and how the improvements will be quantified.
What doesn’t FTY do?
FTY is a great place to start, but it is important to understand its limitations. FTY will not measure rework or provide any accounting for the cost in time or resources for that rework. There is a more accurate method for measuring that, Rolled Throughput Yield, which we will cover next week.
FTY is a great foundational measurement piece and a great way to introduce your company to 6Sigma, in a way that makes a lot of sense to the people doing the work.
This blog post comes out of a recent conversation about Six Sigma specifics. I was discussing a Six Sigma engagement and the client asked to see specific experience in Kaizen. Kaizen is a Japanese word for improvement, for Six Sigma purposes it means continuous improvement. To be categorized as a Six Sigma project, the project will inherently be improvement focused.
When looking for specialized service, the temptation is to use the acronyms and jargon is pretty normal, but beware sometimes using these terms only highlights your lack of knowledge to unscrupulous consultants. To shift the knowledge paradigm back to the customers here are a few basic 6Sigma terms and what they mean.
Six Sigma Belts
This refers to the level of the Six Sigma professional running your project. Yellow is the lowest level of expertise and Master Black Belt is the highest level of expertise. I break down each belt and the belt responsibilities in my blog post ‘What’s in a Belt”?
Continuous Improvement Methodology
Six Sigma is a management methodology and as you consult experts you will hear them talk about continuous improvement methodologies as they try to impress you with facts and figures. What you need to know is 6Sigma is one of many improvement methodologies. The key to improvement methodologies is to finding one that works well with the internal culture of your organization.
This simply refers to the lean projects your organization has attempted or completed. This phrase usually shows up when a consultant or an organization is analyzing the ROI in lean projects. When you hear or see this phrase, what you are looking for is a summary of the projects and their respective results.
These are lean projects tailored to produce immediate or near immediate results. Now from my prospective rapid and lean are mutually exclusive, but any tweak to a process can create improvements. Organizations should be aware that fast improvements typically are not sustainable improvements and rapid deployments need to have a near perfect implementation. If you are in the operations field you probably work on the basis of Murphy’s Law so you’ll have realistic expectations; for the other fields there is no such thing as a magic bullet. There are changes that can be made but a process is a very fragile thing and any change even the most subtle ones, can wreak havoc to an improvement project.
So these are the terms that you will probably hear thrown around regarding Six Sigma and as you delve deeper into the methodology you will hear more complicated terms. The key to Six Sigma is understanding that it isn’t this archaic, complicated methodology.
If you have a question about it, I have an answer.