Six Sigma and Human Performance Technology

Posted by: meikah | 28 October 2005 | 4:52 am

Six Sigma and Human Performance Technology (HPT) are comprehensive strategies that emphasize outcomes and results. Based on systematic and systemic processes, they need careful collaboration on the part of the key holders and management. The two possess some striking similarities but each has a different origin.

Six Sigma, driven more by hard data, reduced variation, and quality of the customer experience, enjoys more consensus around terminology and process. HPT is more inclusive, encourages broader data gathering and evaluation, and more unique, holistic interventions (solutions).

Moreover, Six Sigma focuses on quality for continuous improvement systematically eliminate defects through data analysis and calculated metrics. This effort can therefore be addressed to either human or product performance. HPT, on the other hand, focuses on human performance, which HPT practitioners believe accomplishes the business goals of the organization.

Six Sigma and HPT: Mutual Benefits

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Asking the Right Questions

Posted by: meikah | 27 October 2005 | 4:32 am

Bill Kastle, vice president at George Group and consultant on Lean Six Sigma initiatives at major corporations, and Max Isaac, consultant and leadership expert in organizational behavior, shared their insights on how to make your Six Sigma deployments successful.

According to them, interviewing the CEO and the others who play a major role in the Six Sigma initiative itself is the key. These interviews can uncover factors that are critical in shaping an effective deployment strategy. The interviews can also help integrate Six Sigma into the company culture and environment.

The topics covered in such interviews typically include:

* Experiences with change initiatives from the past. Are they still in place? Why or why not? Have they made people enthusiastic or cynical?
* Understanding of corporate strategy and priorities:
– Key competitive selling points of the organization and its products/services.
– Key barriers that may hinder or derail deployment of strategy. A big one might be whether organization leaders think they can afford to dedicate a percentage of the workforce as full-time Black Belts.
* Current attitude towards Lean Six Sigma. Do they see it as a means for accomplishing their goals? As a necessary evil?
* How decisions are made and how conflict is resolved. Styles of decision-making, commitment to a team decision once made, support for divergent views, the level at which decision-making occurs.
* What people consider key to their personal success within the organization. How are strategic planning and individual goals are aligned in performance evaluations?
* How work gets done — collaboration vs. silos.
* The organization’s and key individuals’ understanding of and experience with any element of Lean Six Sigma (processes, data collection, cycle-time reduction, best practice sharing, etc.).
* Training history. What training has the company provided in the past? What skills have been emphasized? How well has it worked?
* Union issues. To what extent will unions be a factor in the Lean Six Sigma implementation?
* How strategies, goals, success measurements, and targets are cascaded throughout the organization. What structures and processes exist that determine improvement priorities? How is progress monitored and who participates in the processes?
* Teamwork/collaboration. Is it there or is it lacking within the organization? Are there turf wars?
* Openness to new approaches. How prevalent is the “not invented here syndrome”?

After you have obtained this information, you must know how to incorporate this into your Six Sigma initiative. The same information also can shape a communication strategy for Lean Six Sigma, which will explain the what, why and “what’s in it for me” to everyone in the organization.

Using Interviews to Shape a Six Sigma Deployment

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Putting a STARR in your Six Sigma Implementation

Posted by: meikah | 26 October 2005 | 11:06 am

More than a year ago, Six Sigma Brokers LLC launched a new deployment methodology called STARR. STARR acts like a “control gate” that can do effective checks and balances at each deployment stage. Putting up this control gate accelerates progress while minimizing costly mistakes and rework.

With this, Six Sigma Deployment methodology contains the following phases:

1. Strategy – to ensure that Six Sigma supports the client’s vision and strategy
2. Tactics – the means by which the strategy will be delivered
3. Action – the Six Sigma deployment roadmap
4. Review – a feedback system to allow continuous appraisal
5. Reflect – the promotion of knowledge management, best practice sharing and cultural change

STARR is a result of listening to the voice of customer and giving in to their demand. Facing rapidly escalating range of Six Sigma products and services, these customers need help choosing the best deployment procedures for them, while managing limited resources effectively to ensure maximum productivity.


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Six Sigma in Patient Care

Posted by: meikah | 25 October 2005 | 4:00 am

Truman Medical Center President/CEO John W. Bluford has focused his new efforts to giving better measuring tools and ongoing process improvement. Bluford believes that by doing this, TMC will result in a more robust corporate transformation that will energize the Center’s service to both internal (management, doctors, and staff) and external customers (patients and visitors).

To achieve this vision, TMC has hired Kamran Jahanshahi as Senior Vice President. Jahanshashi is a Six Sigma Master Black Belt, who joins TMC from Citibank where he co-developed Citigroup’s Six Sigma Program, Customer Satisfaction & Loyalty Through People & Quality. He has this to say about Six Sigma.

Six Sigma methodologies aim to reduce the variation and “non-value added” activity in clinical and business process, which give rise to long cycle times, high cost and poor outcomes. A process that operates at true Six Sigma levels is producing acceptable quality levels over 99.9999997% of the time. This increase in performance and decrease in process variation leads to defect reduction and vast improvement in profits, employee morale and quality of product, and ultimately in an excellent customer experience.

In the same article, it was mentioned that those those hospitals that have adopted Six Sigma, including Yale New Haven Hospital, John Hopkins, Northwestern Memorial Hospital, New York Presbyterian and Health South, have already experiences significant benefits to their respective organizations. Noted improvements have included:

1. Emergency Department, Operating Room, Laboratory and Radiology patient flow and cycle time
2. Billing, coding and reimbursements
3. Reducing bloodstream infection rates in the Surgical Intensive Care Unit
4. Reducing length of stay for patients with congestive heart failure
5. Supply Chain Management Improvements

In fact, a typical Six Sigma project in healthcare has delivered an average of $500,000 in annualized savings. Jahanshahi further said that because of these recent developments, more and more healthcare leaders and pharmaceutical, insurance and for-profit health systems have turned to Six Sigma in the past four years.

TMC therefore will be the first not-for-profit healthcare providers to use Six Sigma. The Lean Six Sigma program at TMC will be called TMC Innovation Process (TIP) and will begin this fourth quarter of 2005. The launch of TIP will include the training and projects of Six Sigma blackbelts (approximately 4% of exempt employees) and greenbelts (approximately 40% of exempt employees).

“These projects will be across the organization and will be more about a shift in the culture of the organization, and TMC expects to see improvements in the third quarter of 2006,” Jahanshahi discloses.

Six Sigma Comes to TMC

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More of Six Sigma Benefits

Posted by: meikah | 24 October 2005 | 4:45 am

My previous post mentioned about how costly it can be when your organization is trying to reduce defects especially those that are related to poor quality. Today, I found another article that discusses the same difficulty.

The article identified the traditional costs of poor quality.

Traditional Costs of Poor Quality are costs incurred by a business because of variability in their product or service quality. These costs are due to inspection and nonconformance prevention, as well as costs of nonconformances such as warranty, lost production capacity, waste, rework, and others. In a traditional cost of quality analysis, if we require higher quality to the customer, we will have to increase the cost of inspection and prevention, thus there is a point where the cost of prevention equals the cost due to failures when they occur. This would seem to indicate that there is a point above which it does not make sense to increase the quality of your product or service. However, data and experience with improving quality show that as you increase quality, the costs of prevention and inspection go down, while the cost of failure stays the same.

Given this scenario, therefore, your organization need to establish an ongoing improvement methodology solely from a cost perspective. You have to bear in mind the quality observation that “as the conformance level increases, the revenue that would have gone into prevention and inspection becomes available for other uses in the business.”

How this will be done? The articles offers —

The first task is identifying projects that will result in savings to the bottom line. They might be problems that need to be solved, variability that needs to be reduced, new products and services that need to be designed, or efficiencies that need to be increased. The most important of these projects are assigned to a small core group of highly-trained [roblem-solvers that devote 100% of their time to the projects, called Black Belts. As the projects are completed and the cost savings reflected to the bottom line, the Black Belts move on to the next projects on the list. Green Belts, if used, can solve problems in the area in which they work to further increase the benefits.


Filed under: Benefits and Savings

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DFSS 2006

Posted by: meikah | 21 October 2005 | 9:47 am

Businesses know very well that defects in a system are very costly. But it is even costlier to correct such defects especially at a much later time. The challenge therefore for manufacturers is to discover these defects and their level during the Design phases.

This is the renewed focus of the 7th Annual Six Sigma Summit from January 24 to 25, 2006 at Wyndham Miami Beach Resort, Miami Beach, FL. Titled Design for Six Sigma 2006, the summit will focus on the topics:

1. “Program Behavior Issues”
2. “Evaluation of Synergies”
3. “Revolutionizing the Front End of the DFSS efforts to adapt to ever-changing customer demands”

Participants can expect high impact, informative presentations delivered by experts in the industry, among them are Rusty Patterson and Nathan Soderborg. This two-track event will discuss key issues that are fundamental to DFSS success.

Filed under: Tools/Toolkits

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Managing Six Sigma Benefits

Posted by: meikah | 20 October 2005 | 5:44 am

Organizational strategy should drive your Six Sigma initiatives to ensure maximum benefits. Initially, it means that the whole organization must be involved, especially Management, who in ideal situations should hold key roles in Six Sigma projects.

Six Sigma methodology often emphasizes that the DMAIC phases are integral to conducting a successful project. There is however a critical phase that is rarely mentioned or even recognized. This is the Recognize phase. This phase is key to selecting projects tied to strategic goals of an organization.

The Ideal Initiative and the Current Reality for Six Sigma is being compared in this table.

The table goes to show that Six Sigma projects cannot run successfully without Management taking part in strategizing. A Six Sigma inititiative should not start without Management’s support.

When organization’s leaders understand what needs to be done, they can select and launch projects that are in line with the organization’s strategic goals. This is done during the Recognize phase of the methodology.

Projects are selected according to the following criteria:

  1. Provides a direct link to strategic business goals.
  2. Directly impacts key business objectives.
  3. Contributes to bottom-line performance.
  4. There are direct benefits to key customers.
  5. There are direct benefits to the organization.
  6. Can be accomplished in a six-month time frame.

Six Sigma: Maximize the Benefits

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Six Sigma Contributes to Material Science Breakthrough

Posted by: meikah | 19 October 2005 | 4:35 am

Past posts here talk about how Six Sigma initiatives can successfully help design measures to determine the voice of external customers. This is where CTQs, DMAIC, DFSS, or DOE come in handy.

Recently, GE made a major breakthrough in the field of material science. It developed the VaporStar* IMC evaporation boats, which according to GE officials can “give manufacturers critical advantages including higher-quality end products, higher productivity, faster cycle times, and greater value.”

GE used Design for Six Sigma process. Throughout the development of the VaporStar boats, it was working with a number of key customers. The company extensively got validation with customers to ensure that the benefits of the boats were significant and that they would work in real-world operating conditions.

The company built a laboratory chamber to replicate customers’ process environments and developed special tests to quantify wetting and corrosion characteristics. Quantitative field testing was conducted at more than 10 customer sites.

GE’s VaporStar* IMC Evaporation Boats

Filed under: Manufacturing

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Transacting Through Six Sigma

Posted by: meikah | 18 October 2005 | 4:14 am

Business in financial services organizations, customer support centers, hospitals are called transactional. Every day, a single transaction faces unique challenges and to overcome them, an organization must employ a breakthrough process improvement. Such improvement can only be done through Six Sigma initiatives.

A white paper by Six Sigma Qualtec discusses in detail transactional Six Sigma, which successfully manages the differences and helps clients obtain significant financial results.

According to the paper, transactional businesses involve several internal and external customers, and therefore they need to use different metrics from those used by manufacturing services. For example, in a transactional business, the process is the product. In other words, tasks are performed independently of any manufacturing work flow. Another, decisions made by people drive processes in a transactional environment.

One important difference is:

In Six Sigma for Manufacturing, much has been made of the normal curve and reducing variation (thus narrowing the width of the normal curve and changing its center or mean point) as a key indicator of success.

In the transactional world, time, money and “counts” are the most accessible points of measurement. In terms of actual continuous measurement, time is virtually the only factor consistently available; financial measurements will almost always be lagging indicators.

Because of these differences, the Six Sigma team for transactional organizations need to do some practical changes. The team needs to create an enhanced process mapping and process design techniques.

Machine-oriented tools such as gauge R and R can be dropped. Non-parametric statistics and attribute statistics become relatively more important than “normal” statistics. Design of Experiments (DOE) assumes a completely different role in the transactional environment. Frequently, DOE is completely left out of Transactional Six Sigma curricula, because it creates its own set of unique problems. Additional training in subjects such as team building, team leadership and change management provides essential and critical tools for achieving lasting change and sustaining performance improvement.

Unique Challenges for Six Sigma in the Transactional Environment

Filed under: Services

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Advanced Six Sigma Tools

Posted by: meikah | 17 October 2005 | 3:58 am

A successful DMAIC project needs powerful tools and techniques. Below are the most commonly used methods in the Six Sigma improvement effort.

1. Statistical Process Control and Control Charts identify problems or opportunities.
2. Tests of Statistical Significance (Chi-Square, t-tests, and ANOVA) define problems and analyze their root causes.
3. Correlation and Regression analyze root cause predict results.
4. Design Experiments analyze optimal solutions and validate results.
5. Failure Modes and Effects Analysis prioritize problems and even prevent them.
6. Mistake-Proofing prevent defect and improve process.
7. Quality Function Deployment designs product, service, and process.

Statistical Process Control (SPC) measures and evaluates variation in a process. It also controls such variation or performance. It is an ideal way of monitoring current process performance, predicting future performance, and suggesting the need for corrective action. If you are using the SPC and Control Charts, you should gather, plot, and review data promptly, choose and prioritize measures carefully, and set or fine-tune your alarms. You need not recalculate control lim its too often and assume perfect data.

Tests of Statistical Significance, such as Chi-Square, t-tests, and ANOVA, look for patterns or tests suspicious data. They confirm, check the validity, and determine the type of distribution among others. The basics of Statistical Analysis is the Null Hypothesis, which is any variation, change, or difference observed in a population or process is due purely to chance.
The t-test is for testing significance when you have two groups or samples of continuous data, e.g. comparing cycle time for a key step or examining customer income levels in two regions. ANOVA is another test of significance for continuous data. Unlike the t-test, ANOVA can compare more than two groups or samples, e.g. examine customer income levels in four regions.

Correlation and Regression analyze the relationships among two or more factors. When you say that two factors are “correlated,” you mean that a change in one will be accompanied by a change in the other. Through statistical calculations you can measure the strength of a possible relationship and will be able draw a number of helpful conclusions. You use this method only when you have data for tow or more factors that are matched on individual items.

Design of Experiments (DOE) test and optimize the performance of a process, product, service, or solution. It gives you the opportunity to plan and control the variables using an experiment, as opposed to just gathering data and observing real-world events known as “empirical observation.” Some of the advantages of DOE to Six Sigma are that it assesses the VOC systems, the factors that isolate the vital root cause, pilot possible solutions, and evaluate product or service designs.

Failure Modes and Effects Analysis (FMEA) identifies and prioritizes potential
problems (failures) not only in work processes and improvements but also in data-collection activities.

Mistake-Proofing emphasizes the detection and correction of mistakes before they become defects delivered to customers. Also known by the Japanese term Poka Yoke, it pays careful attention to every activity in the process. It involves constant, instantaneous feedback.

Quality Function Deployment (QFD) prioritizes and translates customer inputs into designs and specifications for a product, service, and/or process. The basics of the QFD involve a special multidimensional matrix called the “House of Quality.”

The Six Sigma Way: How GE, Motorola, and Other Top Companies are Honing Their Performance

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