Around the world in dozens of offices, someone was trained and then given Six Sigma projects. Some were trained well and recognize that you won’t use every Six Sigma tool for every project. Some were trained by a self-important belt who taught them to use every single Six Sigma tool there is.
So what I want to talk to you about this week are the tools we belts use, how to use the tools of the trade and which situations they are most appropriate for. Let’s make this a series and focus on one tool weekly. To start with we’ll talk about ANOVA. I had a conversation with a fellow belt about this tool and we had the same consensus, it is quite possibly the most hated Six Sigma tool; so here’s what you need to know.
What is the Analysis of Variance?
ANOVA stands for Analysis of Variance and it’s used to highlight experimental differences. In English that means that ANOVA is used to highlight the differences between 2 or more sets of data.
What’s the best use?
Since the goal of ANOVA is to highlight differences, the best use for ANOVA is when you have 2 or more distinct sets of data that you need to get information from. So ANOVA is not appropriate when you don’t know what you’re measuring or how you are going to measure it. If you are thinking about using ANOVA you should be fairly far along in the Six Sigma project lifecycle.
There are three types of ANOVA models: fixed effects, random effects and mixed effects. Fixed effects are measurements for scenarios with a specific outcome. Random effects are measurements without specific outcomes, so basically you can throw a change in the process and see what happens. It is good for risk identification and will help you plan how potential problems affect the process. The final model is a mixed effect model, this model is a great way to gauge you ability to respond. It has a mixture of specific outcomes and random outcomes; a great way to keep the Six Sigma project team on their feet.
What does ANOVA look like?
How you statistical data will appear.
How your data will be displayed in a chart.
Now there is way more to ANOVA than this little summary, we didn’t cover error types, t-tests or variance types. For specifics-see your belt. This is just a summary to give you some basic knowledge on ANOVA and what it is supposed to accomplish, so now you can understand what your belt is and isn’t telling you.
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!
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.