Last issue, we began a close look at the integration between Lean thinking and Six-Sigma. The first 12 installments of this series focused on the creation of a "Lean Enterprise". To this end are gains in wealth and prosperity for the organization. With Lean thinking as the hierarchy, the most enlightened companies integrate Lean and Six-Sigma.
Among other things Six-Sigma contains arguably the most effective problem solving tool kit ever assembled: "Define, Measure, Analyze Improve, Control" (DMAIC). As a company is being driven by Lean thinking, one project after another will surface. Some of these are perfect opportunities for DMAIC.
Beginning with this issue we will take a close look at DMAIC and gain an understanding why it works so well. First, understand it has its origins in Deming's "Plan Do Check Act" (PDCA) concept. DMAIC organizes problem solving into distinct categories:
Identify a project and make sure it is part of the overall business strategy. Not all initiatives require the power of a team oriented problem solving effort such as DMAIC, but can be completed satisfactorily by individual effort. For those large projects, or rather egregious problems that require a team, then DMAIC is just the tool. Once the project has been identified, a Charter is then prepared and signed by the Team Leader and Champion. Once signed, the Charter becomes a contract.
This is the phase of the project where the "tribal knowledge" is collected. Tools such as process mapping, prioritization and forced ranking, as well as FMEA, are employed. The last step in Measure is to plan for Analyze. This should include MSA for all measurement tools and methods.
This is where the opinion of the experts is validated. At this time a physical problem is converted to a statistical problem. Many techniques such as Multi-Vari studies are employed. The key during this phase is no active manipulation, just passive data studies.
Now we begin active manipulation for improvements. Frequently, this will include DOE.
Once the improvements have been made and validated, it is time for the institutionalization of the results. Sometimes called the "sustaining the gains" phase, this is the most important part of DMAIC. As the team comes to a close, it is mission critical that the gains be imbedded into the organization. This phase includes actions such as the writing of procedures, control plans, and training.