In this series we have been looking at the principles of DMAIC. Last issue we decomposed Improve; this issue we will look at step five, "Control". In issue 15 we had examined the collection of DMAIC and how they link; now we are gaining knowledge regarding each principle, as individuals.
Step Four: CONTROL
Previously we have examined Define, Measure, Analyze and Control. As you may recall, the Measure Phase was to collect the expert opinion (tribal knowledge). Everything in Measure is organized to collect all the possible X / Y relationships and to prioritize them. The prioritization depends solely on the opinion of the experts and is accomplished through a system of forced ranking. In the Analyze Phase we prove or disprove what has been learned in "Measure" by subjecting it to statistical logic. The Improve Phase was where active manipulation began. As improvements were generated various proof of concept and validation techniques were applied. All this was for the assurance that the best practices have initiated.
"Control" is all about sustaining the gains. This is clearly the most difficult part. The old saying "all good things come to an end" is generally true with improvement actions. Hard earned gains from improvement teams frequently fade away. This is what sets Six Sigma Methods apart from other improvement and problem solving methods. As much energy is applied to sustaining the gains as was applied to achieving them.
The common outcome from Six Sigma Teams is "Change". Change affects those that must sustain the improvements generated. Therefore, the most important action the Six Sigma Team must do is to hand off the Change to those that must sustain it. "Hand off" begins with "buy-in". Buy-in begins with clear understanding of how, where, and why the change is important and to what end it is intended.
The Team must chronicle the actions leading up to the change and frame the intended outcome. The most important component to sustaining the gains is "Training". Training those that must live with and sustain the gains should be built on clear documentation. This should include procedures, work instructions, and control plans, as applicable. These documents will provide the center piece for all training.
It is the responsibility of the Team to arrange and conduct all training necessary to sustain the gains. The changes implemented had already been approved by management (the Team Champion) and validated through exhaustive proof of concept actions. The model should be organized to encourage continuous improvements. We never "optimize" the process. Remember, today's optimal solution may be marginal tomorrow and obsolete the day after. The most we can achieve is "the best practice" for today and prepare the way for continuous improvement.
It is important that the Team organize an audit schedule to monitor the results and to harvest ideas for continuous improvements. It is generally a good idea to re-commission the team, in about three months, to review the entire project and to look for ways to take it to the next level.
This concludes the series on Six Sigma Methods. It should be clear to the reader that Six Sigma methods are exhaustive and should be used for the more egregious issues. It is generally not good to water your house plants with a fire hose and in the same vain Six Sigma should be applied only to projects that require this kind of powerful tool.
KAVON International, Inc. remains on standby to answer your Six Sigma and Lean questions and to assist your organization achieve wealth and prosperity. The methods of Lean and Six Sigma are truly one of those things that if your competitor is doing them and you're not; you will not be able to compete.