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Wednesday, July 26, 2017
Six Sigma Heretic

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These feature articles are published monthly by Quality Digest.  They are collected under the nom de plume of The Six Sigma Heretic, which tells you something about how we approach Six Sigma.  They are written by ROI President Steven Ouellette, and have a unique blend of humor and statistical depth that makes him one of Quality Digest's most popular authors.  Subscribe to our RSS Feed to be alerted about each month's article!

Overusing DMAIC

We are more than halfway through the countdown of our exploration of the kooky, and expensive, mistakes people make in implementing Six Sigma, and I want to talk about something that’s so fundamental people rarely see it—Stupid Six Sigma Trick #4: Overusing DMAIC.

DMAIC stands for define the opportunity, measure the current state, analyze potential source causes, improve the process and control the improved process. If you think about it, the DMAIC method and the jillion other problem-solving methods are just refinements of the scientific method for the business environment.

So, how can it be overused? I mean, you have problems and you want them solved, right?

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Don't read further until you have read and answered Top Ten Stupid Six Sigma Tricks, #5!

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Pop Stars Without Clothing (not really)

Today marks a milestone in our countdown of the Top Ten Stupid Six Sigma Tricks. A subjective and unimportant milestone to be sure, but a milestone nonetheless—we have now reached the halfway point. Forget the New Year, this is cause for celebration.

To commemorate this trivial event, let us turn our laser focus onto more technical mistakes. So far we have been talking about systemic problems. Let’s focus now on some specific tools and how they are misapplied, leading to lost money and increased exasperation. I call this one Stupid Six Sigma Trick #5: Pop stars without clothing.

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Constraining Your Improvement Activities to Manufacturing Processes

In this installment of my arbitrary and capricious list of the Top Ten Stupid Six Sigma Tricks (SSST), let’s talk about an error that is perhaps less frequently made now than it has been, but is still common. I call this error SSST No.6, constraining your improvement activities to manufacturing processes.

In an oft-repeated quote, Bob Galvin (the former CEO of Motorola) said, “The lack of initial Six Sigma emphasis in the nonmanufacturing areas was a mistake that cost Motorola at least $5 billion over a four-year period.”

These are two areas in which this SSST appears: the nonmanufacturing areas within a manufacturing business and the nonmanufacturing sectors themselves.

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Inadequate Infrastructure

The Stupid Six Sigma Tricks countdown continues this month with an increasingly common error: “Inadequate Infrastructure.” By infrastructure, I mean those systems and processes that need to be in place in order to support the objectives of Six Sigma.

Regardless of how you define Six Sigma, we expect to see Black Belts working as problem-solving experts attempting to make big improvements. The Black Belts get all the glory but, as is usually the case, the success of the few in the limelight is due to the efforts of many others.

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These articles were originally published in Quality Digest, an online magazine. Subscribe to Quality Digest if you would like to receive these articles when they are published, or subscribe to our RSS feed.

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