Innovation of the Week: Embedding Innovation at Whirlpool

Posted by: meikah | 29 January 2009 | 9:18 pm

sixsig innovation of the weekWhirlpool has been a trusted brand for household appliances for years now. And the reason for its stay in the business is innovation.

Nancy Snyder has been credited for most of the innovative efforts that Whirlpool have been taking. Under Ms. Snyder, the company took into a bold yet successful initiative.

In an interview with Terry Waghorn for, Ms. Synder reveals how she did it, and how Whirlpool embraced the “embedding innovation.” Some insights from the interview:

  • First, Jeff Fettig, Whirlpool’s chairman, made a company-wide announcement that encouraged every employee to submit their innovative ideas.
  • Second, created innovation teams, who had to prove their idea on three accounts: benefit  the customer; have that competitive advantage and return value to the shareholders, and able to move into the innovation pipeline.
  • Third, create software tools to help teams collaborate virtually and publish their work across the organization.
  • Fourth, establish an “I-Mentors” team who helps facilitate the innovation cycle throughout the company.
  • Fifth, despite the economic recession, Whirlpool is focused not only on reducing cost, but also on the long-term impact of innovation.

Read more…

Ms. Snyder co-authored a book titled, Unleashing Innovation: How Whirlpool Transformed an Industry. There are more insights on innovation there.

Click here for an overview of the book.

Filed under: Innovation, Innovation Update, Manufacturing, Whirlpool

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Vought Places Second in the Best Places to Work for Six Sigma Professionals

Posted by: meikah | 29 January 2009 | 8:57 pm

In the recently concluded iSixSigma’s Top 10 Best Places to Work for Six Sigma Professionals, Vought Aircraft Industries ranked second.

Six Sigma at VoughtThis is Vought’s Lean Six Sigma journey in a nutshell:

In just two years, 209 Vought employees have completed the Six Sigma green belt training, with 77 receiving certification. Twenty-three employees went on to become black belts. Projected savings of all black and green belt projects combined exceeds $25 million.

Vought has a long history of applying Lean strategies to its operations. The focus of Lean is to improve the flow and velocity in everything a company does by systematically eliminating waste. The focus of Six Sigma is to improve business by reducing process variation through the use of statistical methods. “These two complementary improvement methodologies, working together, establish the main elements of our Vought Operating System (VOS),” shared Ruben Coronado, Vought’s Six Sigma MBB.

Check out the Top 10 list.

*Photo credit

Filed under: iSixSigma, Six Sigma, Six Sigma Jobs, Six Sigma Professionals

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Minitab Releases Quality Companion® 3 For Quality Improvement

Posted by: meikah | 29 January 2009 | 8:15 pm

Minitab's Six Sigma CompanionMinitab, the leading software company, has just released its Quality Companion® 3 for Quality Improvement. The product has the following features:

  • The ability to import Microsoft Visio® diagrams
  • User-created custom data fields and categories
  • More powerful Project Manager
  • New brainstorming templates
  • Many ease-of-use improvements

Read more…

This also complements Minitab’s flagship product, Minitab® Statistical Software, which companies worldwide use to handle the sophisticated statistical data analysis at the heart of every Six Sigma project.

*Photo credit

Filed under: Minitab, Six Sigma, Software/Technology

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A Modern Parable

Posted by: meikah | 27 January 2009 | 10:00 pm

I got this from the email, and I thought of sharing it here. The story has a ring of truth. What do you think?

A Japanese company ( Toyota ) and an American  company (Ford Motors) decided to have a canoe race on the Missouri River . Both teams practiced long and hard to reach their peak performance before the race.

On the big day, the Japanese won by a mile.

The Americans, very discouraged and depressed, decided to investigate the reason for the crushing defeat. A management team made up of senior management was formed to investigate and recommend appropriate action.

Their conclusion was the Japanese had 8 people rowing and 1 person steering, while the American team had 7 people steering and 2 people rowing.

Feeling a deeper study was in order, American management hired a consulting company and paid them a large amount of money for a second opinion.

They advised, of course, that too many people were steering the boat, while not enough people were rowing.

Not sure of how to utilize that information, but wanting to prevent another loss to the Japanese, the rowing team’s management structure was totally reorganized to 4 steering supervisors, 2 area steering superintendents and 1 assistant superintendent steering  manager.

They also implemented a new performance system that would give the 2 people rowing the boat greater incentive to work harder. It was called the ‘Rowing Team Quality First Program,’ with meetings, dinners and free pens for the rowers. There was discussion of getting new paddles, canoes and other equipment, extra vacation days for practices and bonuses. The pension program was trimmed to ‘equal the competition’ and some of the resultant savings were channeled into morale-boosting programs and teamwork posters.

The next year the Japanese won by two miles.

Humiliated, the American management laid off one rower, halted development of a new canoe, sold all the paddles, and canceled all capital investments for new equipment. The money saved was distributed to the Senior Executives as bonuses.

The next year, try as he might, the lone designated rower was unable to even finish the race (having no paddles), so he was laid off for unacceptable performance, all canoe equipment was sold and the next year’s racing team was out-sourced to India.

Sadly, the End.

Here’s something else to think about: Ford has spent the last thirty years moving all its factories out of the US , claiming they can’t make money paying American wages.

TOYOTA has spent the last thirty years building more than a dozen plants inside the US . The last quarter’s results:

TOYOTA makes 4 billion in profits while Ford racked up 9 billion in losses.

Ford folks are still scratching their heads, and collecting bonuses…


Filed under: Ford Motor Co., Manufacturing, Processes, Quality, Toyota

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U.S. President Obama Creates a Quality Position in his Administration

Posted by: meikah | 27 January 2009 | 9:30 pm

President Barack Obama has created a new position in his administration, which is that of a Chief Performance Officer. The task would be:

to improve the efficiency of government programs and reform spending malpractices and identify areas that the US government can make big change that lasts beyond the economic recovery plan and save taxpayer money over the long term

Nancy Killefer is chosen for the post.

This is like having a quality officer in the organization, especially that Killefer has a management consultant background. I like it when governments are run like private corporations.

Related story:
Obama’s Budget Watchdog: Nancy Killefer 

Filed under: Public Sector, Quality

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Crown Equipment Invests in Six Sigma

Posted by: meikah | 27 January 2009 | 7:26 pm

Six Sigma at Crown EquipmentCrown Equipment, leading provider of safe, efficient, ergonomic and award-winning lift trucks, invests in Six Sigma and enjoys savings.

The company is able to realize savings of some $1.5 million, and according to its Mark DeGrandchamp, director of quality and Lean/Six Sigma, the savings is increasing.

Crown’s Six Sigma journey began in 2005, and got ASQ to train its people. Three years later, DeGrandchamp has this to say about Six Sigma and his company:

“While we looked for lean initiatives to drive efficiency improvements, we saw Six Sigma very much as a way of cutting the costs of nonconformance. The majority of the savings came from generating improvements in scrap, waste, and rework.” 

Six Sigma payoff: Lift-truck maker raises $1.5-million savings from green-belt, black-belt programs

Filed under: Lean Six Sigma, Six Sigma, Six Sigma Organizations

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POSCO Weathers Crisis With Quick Six Sigma Program

Posted by: meikah | 25 January 2009 | 8:45 pm

Six Sigma at POSCOPohang Iron and Steel Company (POSCO), the world’s fourth largest steel producer, is not spared from the economic crisis. Like all the other manufacturing companies that import raw materials, POSCO has its share of business challenges, too.

However, POSCO has a weapon that helps the company weather the crisis. It’s Six Sigma.

The Korea Times Biz/Finance Section reports:

The steel giant says it is going forth with increased flexibility this year.

Further, it said that the company is aiming to cut costs by 958.4 billion won this year, up from 738.2 billion won last year. In-house programs, such as Quick Six Sigma (QSS), Six-Sigma and work diet, have increased productivity and eliminate waste factors.

Read more about POSCO’s strategy.

Related post:
POSCO and SAIL Join and Continue Six Sigma

Related story:
Lee the ‘Steel Man’ Falls From Grace

*Photo credit

Filed under: Manufacturing, POSCO, Six Sigma, Six Sigma Organizations

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Clarence, NY Tries out Lean Six Sigma

Posted by: meikah | 25 January 2009 | 7:57 pm

Lean Six Sigma at Clarence, NYWhen Chris Collins assumed the County Executive post in Erie County, initially, he had a hard time selling his Lean Six Sigma idea.

This did not happen in his hometown of Clarence, though. In fact, Collins got a lot of supporters. The Buffalo News City & Region section reports:

Clarence appears to be the first municipality to dive into his much-championed Lean Six Sigma training program, officials said Wednesday.

Starting today, 20 town employees, or almost all department heads, embark on Six Sigma training, which officials are hoping will help the town save money and operate more efficiently.

Continue reading…

Related posts:
Putting Lean Six Sigma in the Bureaucracy
Six Sigma To Save Taxpayers’ Money in Erie County

Filed under: Lean Six Sigma, Public Sector, Six Sigma, Six Sigma Organizations

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Bell Helicopter Applies Textron Six Sigma Processes and Tools

Posted by: meikah | 21 January 2009 | 9:19 pm

Bell Helicopter, a division of Textron, is an American helicopter and tiltrotor manufacturer. It applies Textron Six Sigma processes and tools to ensure prompt, if not ahead-of-schedule deliveries. The company business is something that delays in delivery cannot be tolerated.

This is not to say that on-time delivery is the only measurement, their products must also be of high quality. I’m sure you know why.

Last year, for example, the company delivered the ninth OH-58D aircraft to be modified under the current Kiowa Warrior Safety Enhancement Program contract ahead of schedule. The aircraft was needed for deployment to Iraq and Afghanistan.

How does Bell Helicopter cope with the demands of its business?

As workers prepared to restart the line for Lot 11 in May 2008, they applied Textron Six Sigma processes and tools to accomplish a lean restart of the SEP line.

Read more…

Filed under: Airforce, Aviation, Manufacturing, Six Sigma, Textron

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