With every improvement project you learn something valuable and a tool for improvements that need to happen quickly are Kaizen events. Kaizen events are rapid responses to very specific areas usually taking 3-5 days. Kaizen events are not difficult, but if you do not put the appropriate planning in place before you begin you will not realize any improvements. To begin with a basic structure of a Kaizen event should include the following:
- Training-what Kaizen is and how it works.
- Defining the problem/goals
- Documenting the current state
- Brainstorming and developing a future state
- Developing a follow-up plan
- Presenting results
- Celebrating successes
The most important thing to remember is that a Kaizen event is driven by two principles: What can we continuously improve and what waste can we eliminate? Those two principles bring us to my next point.
What Can’t Kaizen Events Do?
Kaizen cannot solve any 6Sigma problem. It is a tool that works best with situations that are not heavily focused on metrics. Situations such as yield improvements or variation reduction would not benefit from a Kaizen exercise.
There are many tools for a Kaizen checklist, but as with most 6Sigma tools the best advice often comes from your belt. If you are looking for a quick introduction to 6Sigma without the total commitment often necessary for a 6Sigma improvement project, Kaizen may be your answer.
The great thing about Six Sigma is that it puts you into the habit of seeing things in an ordered and identifiable view. This skill is highlighted in the way Six Sigma teaches you how to select projects. Project selection is the single most important decision you will make for your improvement initiative. If you pick the wrong project, it will kill your resources and your revenue. If you pick the right project you can create a new culture, introduce a new way of thinking and make a truly remarkable company.
In picking projects there are 3 core components to consider: the business case, the project charter and the benefits analysis.
The Business Case
In Six Sigma you will hear a lot about the business case and how a strong case correlates to a strong project. The business case is a the document that your improvement effort will build to answer why there needs to be an improvement and what type of improvement you will use. This document is typically used to convince sponsors of a project’s necessity.
The project charter is what you will use to tell the project team what improvements you are doing and how you will measure their success. Project charters are much more detailed than the business case and often serve as a guide for the project manager. Your belt will be able to help you determine which specifics your charter needs.
Now I know this sounds like a fancy business word, but a benefits analysis is where you will win or destroy support for your project. The benefits analysis is the financial projections for your improvement project and in my opinion, a benefits analysis should be done prior to building a business case. The analysis is designed to tell you what is to be expected in terms of resources, financial investment and returns on those investments.
Selecting a project is one of the most important steps in an improvement process and as with all these blogs this is a summary, your belt will be able to guide you through picking a project and designing a process that works best for the culture of your organization.
Rolled Throughput Yield (RTY) is a measurement metric that illustrates the losses due to rework or corrective action. The beauty of this metric is that is shows in statistical fact the relationship between the defects and the cost of poor quality. This is the tool that most management asks for without knowing the name.
What does it look like?
RTY is generally illustrated in the Poisson Model as pictured below
What doesn’t it do?
While the RTY metric provides a great visual presentation for the improvement areas and the cost of not doing those improvements, it requires a lot of data. Most companies unfortunately do not make a habit of recording specific defect data, and if your company does not have access to this data it really isn’t cost effective to put in software to capture it. If you don’t have access to the data, you are going to be operating on a kind of forecast based on what you do have access to. I do have to caution you that if your process has more than 10% defects, RTY should not be you focus. Identifying root cause should be your priority.
Now that we have gone over some metric types, you should have at least a basic understanding of why the metric is done and what it tells you. As always this is just a launch pad, your belt will be able to help you with the specifics and creating a metric that will be useful to your organization.
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.