Innovation of the Week: Brainstorm Lite

Posted by: meikah | 30 March 2007 | 4:30 am

If you’re the kind of person who gets things done by writing your every task on post-its, then Brainstorm Lite may just be your kind of thing, too.

Over at, Marc Orchant talks about a new innovation and accordingly a better version to sticky notes.

Brainstorm Lite (Mac only) which is a perfect replacement for sticky notes in a brainstorming technique I use frequently in meetings and coaching session. It is a digital version of the sticky notes that allows you to define the brainstorming time period and capture each participant’s output as an OPML, RTF, or text file which can easily be imported into a mind mapping tool, spreadsheet program, or word processor for aggregation, clustering, and labeling.

Here’s how it works:

  1. Give each participant a sticky notes pad and a medium tip black marker
  2. On a white board (best) or an easel pad, write the question or topic you’re brainstorming
  3. Define a short time period (five minutes is usually more than enough) and have everyone write as many ideas as possible – you’re after quantity, not quality at this point. All ideas are good – the crazier the better. Encourage everyone to write as quickly as they can and keep each though to a few words (hence the marker and not a pen or pencil). Write big!
  4. At the end of the time period, everyone slaps their notes on the white board and reviews all of the ideas. Again, time box this review – two to three minutes is usually enough. During this review, anyone can add a few additional ideas if something they see inspiresthem.
  5. Now ask everyone to collectively participate in clustering similar ideas together into groups. Encourage discussion and debate.

Continue reading…

Brainstorm Lite sounds really cool, but it is only available to Mac users? Also, some people might still prefer the colorful sticky notes.

Filed under: Innovation Update, Team Dynamics, Technology

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Six Sigma News Round-up

Posted by: meikah | 28 March 2007 | 4:10 am

For today’s Six Sigma news round-up, we’ll see some movements.

Alton D. Johnson has been appointedGeneral Manager of Dallas Airmotive‘s Premier Turbines division in Neosho, Missouri. He will be responsible for the day-to-day operations and P&L for the engine repair and overhaul facility. A licensed A&P mechanic, a Six Sigma Green Belt and certified in Kaizen and Lean flow process manufacturing, Johnson has an extensive experience in operations and personnel management, having worked for GE and US Army Aviation.

Cindy Cullen is now Chief Technology Officer of SAFE-BioPharma Association. She will oversee and administer all aspects of technology for SAFE-BioPharma and will be the Chief Systems Architect for SAFE. Cullen is a CISSP (Certified Information Systems Security Professional), CISM (Certified Information Security Manager) and SSBB (Six Sigma Black Belt).

Ingersoll Rand has chosen PowerSteering for enterprise-wide Project Portfolio Management comprising multiple strategic initiatives. Once implemented PowerSteering will deliver business benefits such as corporate information technology, shared services PMO, enterprise innovation, and Lean Six Sigma.


Filed under: Events/Announcements, Human Resource, iSixSigma, Lean Six Sigma, Pharmaceuticals, US Army Aviation

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Lean Six Sigma “Laws”

Posted by: meikah | 27 March 2007 | 4:43 am

Lean Manufacturing focuses on cutting down processes to eliminate wastes, and as a consequence, speeds up processes. Six Sigma, for its part, provides the necessary tools to eliminate wastes to please customers. When combined, Lean and Six Sigma, you will have a powerful methodology.

Going farther in Lean Six Sigma, outlines some Lean Six Sigma “laws,” which you can use to efficiently reduce waste while remaining up to speed:

  1. The Law of the Market
  2. The Law of Flexibility
  3. The Law of Focus
  4. The Law of Velocity
  5. The Law of Complexity and Cost: a product or service that is very complex adds more non-value, higher costs, and more Work-In-Progress (WIP) than processes that are slow or of poor quality. In other words, the complexity of something is more expensive to the organization than something that is lower quality or produced in a lower speed.

Source:, “Six Sigma Laws – The Law of Complexity and Cost” with a link provided by Six Sigma Zone

*Photo credit: Stock.Xchng

Filed under: Lean Six Sigma, Six Sigma References


Six Sigma and BPOs

Posted by: meikah | 26 March 2007 | 4:07 am

Maybe because of the bulk of work in BPOs, you can’t help meeting quality problems. The services handled in BPOs are increasing from customer service, tech support, web development, transcription, even human resource, and finance. These services are intricate, and every move needs to be done with least number of defects, if not zero defect.

Thus, BPOs really stand to benefit from having a good quality system in place. Better even if they can use the Six Sigma methodology to their advantage. I don’t have the exact number of BPOs that are into Six Sigma, but I know these companies do: Sykes, QAI India Ltd., Infosys, and HCL Technologies Ltd.

Services Safari has a good discussion on why a BPO should adopt Six Sigma. According to the post:

Total Quality Improvement techniques work well when tasks are routine and repeated. These quality tools are well-suited for BPO actions as the workers are constantly performing routine tasks (e.g., payment processing, journal entries, invoice matching, etc.).

Initially, when some BPO providers get started, they take over a client’s processes and run them as-is. Rarely would this represent an optimal process design. This is the initial entry point for a quality improvement technique like Six Sigma. If this technique gets these processes to behave more reliably and at lower cost great.

Related Stories:
Six Sigma for Shared Services
Leveraging Lean Six Sigma in Business Process Outsourcing

*Photo credit:

Filed under: Benefits and Savings, Outsourcing, Software/Technology

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Innovation of the Week: GE’s Innovation Case Study

Posted by: meikah | 23 March 2007 | 4:07 am

In its bid to be continuously improving its processes, GE asked for ideas from students.

GE Healthcare turned to the undergraduate students of the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California, one of the world’s top design schools, and bid for the development of a product that addresses both ergonomics and emotions.

BusinessWeek Online: Inside Innovation features a synopsis of the the study:

Art Center fielded three teams of eight students. GE Healthcare asked them to address the challenge of expanding health care into rural Africa in 2016. The teams were composed of students majoring in design, transportation, and the environment. All spent the fall semester on the project, and on Dec. 7, Art Center’s “Super Thursday,” they joined other students sponsored by BMW, Honda (HMC ), and Nestlé (NSRGY ) to present their designs.

An ultrasound device would wrap like a blanket around a woman’s belly. The design would reduce the training required for technicians. Current machines depend on a skilled technician to guide a probe over the abdomen. The multiple imaging sensors woven into the blanket mean it would simply have to be correctly placed, a big advantage in countries where technicians are in short supply.

A noninvasive malaria scanner would detect disease by looking through the skin of a patient’s hand. Malaria is currently diagnosed with a needle prick and a blood test. That scares some patients away and can delay treatment until results come back from labs. The scanner would be painted in earthy African colors.

Continue reading…

Filed under: GE, Healthcare, Innovation Update, R&D

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Six Sigma and TAGSYS

Posted by: meikah | 22 March 2007 | 12:28 am

TAGSYS, the global leader in item-level RFID systems and tags, has announced that they are launching a Six Sigma Performance Program initially for pharmaceuticals. The program guarantees no more than four failures per million reads for high frequency (13.56 MHz) passive RFID tags used for item-level pharmaceutical product tracking.

With this new program, TAGSYS is hopeful it will bring in new confidence in RFID quality-of-service (QoS) that pharmaceutical companies need for large-scale deployments.

The service is initially for the pharmaceutical industry to facilitate track-and-trace applications, but it could be expanded to other industries. Jordon cited the results Cardinal Health released last year from its UHF Gen2 item-level tagging pilot as an example of how low performance expectations are a barrier to adoption (see Pharmaceutical RFID Pilot Finds Promise, Problems). Cardinal said it learned a lot from its pilot and considered the program a success, but attained a top item-level read rate of 99.5 percent for one operation and a low of 7.8 percent for another. Case-level read rates ranged from 76.3 to 100 percent.

Read more about TAGSYS RFID Six Sigma Performance System…

RFID Update, “TAGSYS Guarantees Six Sigma RFID Performance” with the link provided by Six Sigma Zone

*Photo credit: RFID Journal

Filed under: Manufacturing, Pharmaceuticals, RFID, Software/Technology

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Six Sigma News Round-up

Posted by: meikah | 21 March 2007 | 2:35 am

Here’s another round of Six Sigma News as talked about by fellow Six Sigma bloggers.

Let me start with iSixSigma Blogosphere. Michael Cyger is giving a teaser on the Six Sigma story of Lonmin. The whole story will be featured on the May/June issue of iSixSigma Magazine. Being a producer of platinum group metals and involved in mining, Lonin’s story will be an interesting one.

News at The Sixth Sigma is about KXEN, a data mining vendor, that adopts Six Sigma DMAIC as its standard implementation methodology for inegrating analytics into corporate business processes.

Ron Pereira of Lean Six Sigma Academy has an interesting take on DOE. He is demystifying the monstrous concept of DOE. You should read it.

Filed under: Data, General, iSixSigma, Six Sigma References, Tools/Toolkits

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Six Sigma Reference Feature: The Toyota Way

Posted by: meikah | 20 March 2007 | 1:49 am

Almost a year after this book was left with me by my boss, I’m finally starting to read it. Not good, eh?

I’ve heard a lot about the The Toyota Way though. And I know many companies are relying on it for management strategies. The book, however, as the author attests and Toyota‘s president Fujio Cho, emphasizes that it’s not the management strategies per se, but the system that makes every strategy work together every day and consistently.

Let me share with you some of the key principles that drive the techniques and tools of the Toyota Production System (TPS).

  • Long-term philosophy: have long-term thinking, long-term approach.
  • The right process will produce the right results: be a process-oriented company.
  • Add value to the organization by developing your people and partners: have tools that support people who should be continuously improving and continuously developing.
  • Continuously solving root problems drives organizational learning: analyze, reflect, and communicate lessons learned to standardize best-known practices.

You have to read this book, if you haven’t yet.

Related references:
BusinessSummaries, Book Preview: The Toyota Way “14 Management Principles from the World’s Greatest Manufacturer”
, “Learning From Toyota — Again”

Filed under: Fujio Cho, Manufacturing, Processes, Six Sigma References, Tips, Toyota

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Shinhan Bank Goes Six Sigma Way

Posted by: meikah | 19 March 2007 | 1:41 am

After its successful merger with Chohung Bank, Shinhan Bank has become one of Korea’s major commercial banks.

As a result of these changes happening in the bank, its Management has decided to seal its place in the competitiveness arena. The bank has gone the Six Sigma way, and will continue to do in the coming years.

While launching its Six Sigma projects, Shinhan has learned the following:

  • identified defects in their work processes that result in customer dissatisfaction and increased costs
  • improved performance and sharpened organizational efficiency
  • created a culture of innovation
  • by reducing costs and increasing customer satisfaction, the bank has created benefits worth more than 15 billion won ($15.9 million)
  • reported a net profit of 1.66 trillion won in 2006, up 8.4 percent from a year earlier
  • operating profit rose 9.7% last year to 4.34 trillion won
  • assets grew 8.4% year-on-year to 177 trillion won as of the end of last year

Read more…

The Korea Herald, “Shinhan’s innovation leads to competitiveness, strength” with link provided by iSixSigma

Shinhan Bank Website in English

Filed under: Benefits and Savings, Deployment, Finance, Services, Shinhan Bank, Six Sigma Organizations

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Innovation of the Week: Nokia’s Design Research

Posted by: meikah | 16 March 2007 | 2:41 am

Keying in Nokia at Google tells me this about the company: the world’s leading mobile phone supplier and a leading supplier of mobile and fixed telecom networks including related customer services. I know Nokia is way ahead of its competitors. But do we know why?

An interview with Jan Chipchase of Nokia’s Research Center on BusinessWeek Online will tell us why. The company invests in R&D by engaging highly qualified people in behavioral research, and its design research involves everyone.

At Nokia, we have an internal market for ideas. There could be someone in Nokia who wants research, and they will come to us. You might have people in the company who want questions answered. A simple example would be: How are early adopters of mobile TV using mobile TV? That’s about current behaviors. We would go to the place where the technology is being rolled out, South Korea, and we would look at that. We would take the core lessons of that and think about the further, future place.

Then there are areas where growth is likely in five years because of demographics or price points but we don’t fundamentally know too much about this area beyond analyst reports and the research.

Continue reading…

BusinessWeek Online, “Nokia’s Design Research for Everyone”

Filed under: Innovation Update, Interview, Manufacturing, Nokia, Processes, R&D, Software/Technology, Team Dynamics

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