Six Sigma–Senior, Deployment, and Project Champions


In the tenth chapter of their book Six Sigma:  The Breakthrough Management Strategy Revolutionizing the World’s Top Corporations, by Mikel Harry, Ph.D., and Richard Schroeder, the authors get around to discussing in detail who the various players are in the implementation of the Breakthrough Strategy.

These were summarized in the last section of the previous chapter, but in this chapter the authors go into more detail, starting with the top:   the Champions.

1.  The Senior Champion

This is an executive leader who ends up selecting the Deployment Champions and Project Champions, the people who will champion the Six Sigma Breakthrough Strategy within specific business units across the organization.

2.  The Deployment Champions

Champion may be anyone from an executive vice president to a vice president in charge of a functional group  at an operating site.  In any case, the Deployment Champion works to implement Six Sigma throughout their respective businesses.   They need to:

  • have solid business experience at the strategic and tactical level
  • experience at leading a cross-functional team
  • be able to develop businesswide financial targets for Six Sigma results

3.  Project Champions

These champions function at the business unit level as they oversee Black Belts and focus on Six Sigma on the project level.   The Project Champions do the following:

  • perform assessments of the organization’s capabilities
  • make sure financial resources are available for the Six Sigma projects
  • benchmark the organization’s products and services, and conduct detailed gap analyses
  • develop a cross-functional Six Sigma deployment plan
  • provide managerial and technical leadership to Master Black Belts and Black Belts

These champions are the grounding force in making the strategy work and supporting the initiative to move forward.

In the next post, we discuss the role of the Master Black Belts.

 

Six Sigma–Roles and Responsibilities of Those Deploying the Breakthrough Strategy


In the ninth chapter of their book Six Sigma:  The Breakthrough Management Strategy Revolutionizing the World’s Top Corporations, the authors Mikel Harry, Ph.D., and Richard Schroeder finally get around to telling us how to implement the strategy, after spending the earlier chapters describing what Six Sigma is and what the Breakthrough Management Strategy consists of.

In the last post, I discussed the questions an organization needs to ask itself before it sets up a Six Sigma Breakthrough Strategy within the organization.   In this post, we get to what the roles and responsibilities are of the various individuals who are on team that will deploy and implement the strategy.   This are listed based on a top-down structure.

  1. Executive Management–there has to be support from the executive management.   This is nothing more crucial to getting the strategy off on the right foor.
  2. Senior Champion–a strategic corporate-level position, this is someone who directly reports to the CEO, and who must get business unit-level people onboard (the Deployment Champions).
  3. Deployment Champion-a strategic business-unit-level position, this is someone who must be responsible for the support systems of Six Sigma projects.
  4. Project Champion–this is a tactical business-unit-level position that is responsible for choosing and implementing Six Sigma Black Belt projects.
  5. Deployment Master Black Belts–these are the subject matter experts who are at the business-unit level.   They are responsible for being a repository of technical knowledge regarding Six Sigma for use by the Project Master Black Belts, and for maintaining the company’s database on Six Sigma technical knowledge and keeping it up to date.
  6. Project Master Black Belts–This person is at the business-unit level who transfers Sigma Sigma knowledge to the Black Belts.  They are the teachers of Six Sigma.
  7. Project Black Belts–these are the ones who implement the Six Sigma projects and are where the rubber meets the road with regard to applying Six Sigma to specific projects in order to solve critical quality problems.
  8. Process Owners–these are line managers who must ensure that process improvements, once completed through the Six Sigma process, are captured and sustained.
  9. Six Sigma Green Belts–these are the project team members who have knowledge of Six Sigma under the guidance of Black Belts.   They can even run mini-projects of their own.
  10. Project Team Members–they gather and analyze data for use by the Black Belts.

Some of my favorite metaphors the authors use for the difference between Black Belts and Master Black Belts are the following:

  • the Deployment Master Black Belts spread the seeds of Six Sigma, the Project Master Black Belts plant the seeds and water them, and the Black Belts harvest the fruits.
  • Black Belts are where the rubber meets the road, but Project Master Black Belts are where the tire meets the rim.

In the tenth chapter, the authors go into more details about the six categories of people involved in Six Sigma, categories which include all of the above categories except for one:   the customer, for whom the entire Strategic Breakthrough Strategy is done.

Six Sigma–How to Organize the Breakthrough Strategy


In the ninth chapter of their book Six Sigma:  The Breakthrough Management Strategy Revolutionizing the World’s Top Corporations, the authors Mikel Harry, Ph.D., and Richard Schroeder finally get around to telling us how to implement the strategy, after spending the earlier chapters describing what Six Sigma is and what the Breakthrough Management Strategy consists of.

In the last posts, I have summarized what choices the authors have given on how to focus the implementation (they prefer a focus on processes) and what strategic goal to use (they prefer an emphasis on design processes which correlate highly with customer satisfaction).

The next question is:  how will a company organize the people working on Six Sigma projects.   Of course, a lot of the answer to this question will depend on the focus and strategic goal (which were covered in the last two posts).   Before launching the Six Sigma Breakthrough Strategy, here are the three largest groups of questions to be considered, based on the question words “who”, “what”, and “how”.

WHO

  1. Who will oversee the selection of Black Belts (those who run the Six Sigma projects)?   What selection criteria will be used, and once they are selected, what will the company do to retain them in terms of pay, recognition, and other rewards?
  2. Who in the company will sign off on (or sponsor) the projects?   This person will have to know what the guidelines will be to decide how each project is judged to be successful or not based on the strategic goals of the company?
  3. Who will be the ultimate champion of the Breakthrough Strategy itself?    This person will have to get the concurrence of senior management regarding what the focus and strategic goal of the Breakthrough Strategy will be.

WHAT

  1. What will be the project selection process?
  2. What will be the quality metrics used as a standard across the country?
  3. What will be the savings tracking process used, and what categories of savings will be used in that process?

HOW

  1. How will the budget for the strategy be handled, including the question of whether salaries for Black Belts will be categorized as direct or indirect costs?    Direct costs are costs that are billed to a specific Six Sigma project, indirect costs are not billed to a specific project, but to the Six Sigma Breakthrough Strategy as a whole.
  2. How will the Six Sigma Breakthrough Strategy be aligned with other quality initiatives and systems, such as just-in-time inventory planning (JIT)?
  3. How will the company train its Master Black Belts, the people that will train the Black Belts (those who run the projects) and Green Belts (those who are on project teams)?

All of this has to go into the initiating process for implementing the Six Sigma Breakthrough Project, and should be done when creating the Program Charter for implementing it.

In the next post, we discuss the various roles and responsibilities for those implementing the strategy, from the “general”(Senior Champion) to the “ground troops” (Green Belts, Yellow Belts).

Six Sigma–Five Ways to Prioritize Projects


In the last post, I described how the authors Mikel Harry, Ph.D., and Richard Schroeder of the book Six Sigma:  The Breakthrough Strategy Revolutionizing the World’s Top Corporations choose describe four ways to focus an organization’s Six Sigma projects:

  1. Focus on project cost savings
  2. Focus on deliverables
  3. Focus on processes
  4. Focus on problems

Of these four, the authors clearly prefer focus #3 rather than #1, #2, or even #4.

But once you have chosen your focus, there are five ways to prioritize the possible Six Sigma projects your organization has decided to focus on.   That is the subject of this post.

  1. Focus on geographical location–this will depend on the number of employees or facilities within a specific site or division, the point being that you want to focus on a set of operations that can support a Six Sigma initiative, and you also want to focus on an area that will be able to replicate successful results in other parts of the corporation.
  2. Focus on design–you need to characterize processes in the Measure and Analyze phases, and then optimize them in the Improve and Control phases.  If you want to redesign a product to go beyond the Five Sigma wall, then focusing on the design phase of the product will be the best focus for your organization.
  3. Focus on internal processes–if a company feels that its managerial processes are in need of improvement before its operational processes, then a company may choose to focus here.
  4. Focus on supplier processes–once a company has improved its own processes, then a company may choose to focus on its supplier chain and making sure they launch their own Six Sigma initiatives.
  5. Focus on customers–this is an excellent place for a company to start focusing on that makes products for customers.  Translating customer satisfaction studies into critical-to-quality characteristics of one’s products, and then focusing on Six Sigma initiatives that improve those characteristics, is a surefire way to produce positive bottom-line business results.

The first focus is the choice of the geographical location of the facilities within the company, the other choices for focus are where to start focusing within the organization of the company.   In my opinion the authors tend to prefer the focus on #5 (customers) and #2 (design), followed by #3 (internal) and #4 (supplier).

Now that the question of where to focus has been considered, the next question is “who will spearhead the effort?”  What personnel resources will a company commit to Six Sigma initiatives?   That is the subject of the next post…

Radical Forgiveness


this is the placeholder for the post for 11.16.2014 on the forum topic at UUCC PF

Six Sigma–Creating a Six Sigma Focus


In the ninth chapter of the book Six Sigma:  The Breakthrough Strategy Management Strategy Revolutionizing the World’s Top Corporations, the authors Ikel Harry, Ph.D., and Richard Schroeder talk about the implementation and deployment of the strategy after having described it in chapter 7.

A company can focus on Six Sigma by focusing on one or more of the following four areas:

  1. Project Cost Savings–a company can determine the number of projects it needs to complete to save a specific dollar amount.  Projects are selected for potential reductions in fixed and/or variable costs.  The authors feel that this is a limited approach, especially when trying to establish a new mind-set about quality throughout the organization.
  2. Deliverables–a company can focus on the product family or system that is the greatest cause of poor customer satisfaction.   However, the authors feel that this approach needs the company to go beyond focusing on products, and to examine the processes that contribute to that product’s poor customer satisfaction.
  3. Processes–this is the approach that the authors recommend over the first two, because companies that focus on processes over costs or products will find that correcting a process in one division will almost always have positive spillover effects for other divisions within the company.
  4. Problems–another alternative way of focusing on Six Sigma is to describe it in terms of problems and solutions, rather than just inputs and outputs of processes.   The authors feel that this is just another way of looking at the application of Six Sigma, but that the focus will have to be sooner or later on the processes that cause these problems, and the improvement or even elimination of these processes is the same thing as finding a solution to the problem.

These are the main ways of focusing on Six Sigma by focusing on product quality.   But what if a company focuses on specific products, especially those within a key product line?   There are five additional ways to focus Six Sigma based on this approach, and these will be taken up in the next post.

Six Sigma–Designing Past the Five Sigma Wall


In the eighth chapter of the book Six Sigma:  The Breakthrough Strategy Management Strategy Revolutionizing the World’s Top Corporations, the authors Ikel Harry, Ph.D., and Richard Schroeder talk about moving past the Five Sigma wall.

There is only way to do this–you can’t inspect your product past this wall, you have to design your product past the wall.   The Design for Six Sigma or DFSS system is a system of Six Sigma principles and methods that allow a designer of products, processes, or services to create designs that a) are resource efficient, b) capable of very high yields, and c) are imperious to process variations.

Why is this important?   Because although design represents the smallest actual cost element in products, it leverages the largest cost influence.   If you simplify the design by 30%, it creates 21% overall cost savings, whereas the same 30% savings applied to labor or overhead only results in a 1.5% overcall cost savings.

This is why DFSS is so valuable for a company, because it can eliminate parts or processes that either create defects or do not translate into critical-to-quality characteristics, and thus can improve customer satisfaction.

Six Sigma–Process Drift


In the eighth chapter of their book Six Sigma:  The Breakthrough Strategy Revolutionizing the World’s Top Corporations, the authors Mikel Harry, Ph.D., and Richard Schroeder discuss “Measuring Performance on the Sigma Scale.”   In the previous chapter, the authors discussed the Breakthrough Strategy of implementing Six Sigma on the business, operational, and process level.

In this chapter they focus on the question “how does improving the Sigma level of a company’s processes improve that company’s performance?”   One of the ways this is done is by setting a control limit in order to control the variation within the specification limit.    However, even when one thinks one has controlled the variation to a certain Sigma level, it turns out that the long-term Sigma level of the process ends up, on average, 1.5 Sigma less than the short-term improvement one thought one had achieved.   Why is this?   Because of something called “process drift”.

The very illuminating example used by the authors is that of designing a garage to accommodate a vehicle’s width.   Let’s assume that you had an architect who was going to design your garage to accommodate your vehicle, and that you only have one vehicle to park in that garage.    What the architect has to accommodate is not just the width of the vehicle, but the variations in which it will be driven into the garage.   Yes, the garage needs to be as wide as the vehicle, but what if the driver is coming into the garage slightly off center?   Just how much is the variation between individual drives, not to mention individual drivers in the household?   Also, there needs to be some accommodation not just for the width of the car, but the width of the driver.

When the driver gets out of the vehicle, there has to be enough room for the driver to be able to fit between the vehicle and the garage wall as the driver makes his or her way towards the door leading into the house.   Depending on how much is stored in the sides of the garage, the garage will need to accommodate the width of the storage as well.

The “process drift” is analogous to the variation in an individual’s centering of the vehicle from day to day.   This can be effected by a) the amount of sleep the person has received the night before, b) the amount of alcohol the person has had before driving home, and c) the amount of light outside the garage at the time the driver approaches it.

The analogy in the world of manufacturing that causes “process drift” can come from three primary sources or variation:

1)  Inadequate design margins

These need to account for natural variation.   In the case of the garage, the architect needs to account for the fact that the car will not be perfectly centered, and so a reasonable amount of variation will be needed to be designed in.

2)  Unstable parts and materials provided by vendors and suppliers

Vendors and suppliers will always be on the lookout to change parts and materials to something cheaper.   This will sometimes cause variation that the manufacturer needs to be on the lookout for.

3)  Insufficient process capability

This means that the process is not capability of meeting the specifications limits of the critical-to-quality characteristics that customers demand.   If an engineer does not take the width of the driver into account as well as the width of the automobile, the driver may complain that they can get the car into the garage, but are subsequently unable to get out of the car, which understandably would prove irksome to the driver.

These three sources of variations can occur individually or, more often than not, can overlap and happen all at once.  Six Sigma is used to tease out these three common sources of variation, and thus to help remove “process drift”.

In the next post, the authors go into a little more detail regarding the relationship between a customer’s critical-to-quality characteristics (CTQs) and the specification limits a manufacturer sets in order to make sure that they are operationally satisfied in the manufacturing process.

Six Sigma–Specification vs. Control Limits


In the eighth chapter of their book Six Sigma:  The Breakthrough Strategy Revolutionizing the World’s Top Corporations, the authors Mikel Harry, Ph.D., and Richard Schroeder discuss “Measuring Performance on the Sigma Scale.”   In the previous chapter, the authors discussed the Breakthrough Strategy of implementing Six Sigma on the business, operational, and process level.

In this chapter they focus on the question “how does improving the Sigma level of a company’s processes improve that company’s performance?”   One of the ways this is done is by setting a control limit in order to control the variation within the speification limit.

One way to explain these two concepts is by using an analogy.   Let’s say you’re in a car that is traveling down the road and you don’t want to hit the leave the road because the shoulder has rocks or, even worse, a sharp drop off a cliff.   One of the ways you can do this is by focusing on staying within the guardrail.   Now, if you’re doing a process that is churning out units on an assembly line, you don’t want to have defective units which can occur if the units are out of specification.   So you measure the variation from the center and you call the point where the variation goes out of specification as the specification limit.   It’s the equivalent of the guardrail in the analogy.   You stay within the specification limit, no defects.   You stray outside of the specification limit, then you’ve got a defect.

If you’re traveling down the road, rather than trying to avoid the guardrail, and even safer method of driving is to make sure you that you stay in your lane (except when passing a car, for example).   The lane line on the right-hand side of your car is far enough away from the guardrail that, if you focus your effort on staying within your lane, you will almost assuredly never be in danger of hitting the guardrail.   Now, if you’re doing the process mentioned in the paragraph above, and you want to stay within the specification limits, then you setup control limit.    It’s the equivalent of the lane in the analogy.   You stay within the control limit, then you end up staying with the specification limit, and there are no defects.

This brings up another reason for the 1.5-sigma shift which is a phenomenon where the long-term performance of a process is 1.5 sigma less than the short-term performance.   The analogy for the car your car’s steering capability.   If you point the car in a certain direction, and then leave off the steering wheel, are your wheels and chassis aligned in such a way that the car will still go in that direction?   Or will the car drift to the left or right?    Now if you are driving along and making sure the wheel is in the same direction, the car will go straight.   That is the short-term steering capability of the car.   However, if your car’s wheel alignment is such that the car will tend to steer to the left or right, it may require repeated inputs from you to keep the car aligned correctly.   In a similar way, the short-term capability of a process may be at 4 sigma, but if measure it in the long run, there may be errors that are causing the quality equivalent of faulty wheel alignment in that they cause the long-term capability of a process to be at 2.5 sigma instead.

This is why it is vital to account for the “shift and drift” phenomena mentioned above by dividing the total process variation into short-term and long-term components.   This is the only way to make sure the process is maintaining high quality, or in our driving analogy, to make sure the car stays on the road!

Six Sigma–The Pareto Principle: The Trivial Many vs. the Vital Few


In the eighth chapter of their book Six Sigma:  The Breakthrough Strategy Revolutionizing the World’s Top Corporations, the authors Mikel Harry, Ph.D., and Richard Schroeder discuss “Measuring Performance on the Sigma Scale.”   In the previous chapter, the authors discussed the Breakthrough Strategy of implementing Six Sigma on the business, operational, and process level.

In this chapter they focus on the question “how does improving the Sigma level of a company’s processes improve that company’s performance?”   In the last post, I referred to the importance the authors stress on treating persistent problems over sporadic ones.   The persistent problems are the ones that require the most effort, but their solution produces the most lasting benefit.

In this post, I describe how the authors stress the importance of solving the “vital few” vs. the “trivial many” problems by invoking the Pareto principle, developed by an eighteenth-century Italin economist Vilfredo Pareto.  Pareto’s law in the context of quality says that “80% of defects will be traceable to 20% of the different types of defects that can occur.”   The types of defects that account for 80% of the defects produced are called the “vital few”, and the types that account for 20% of the defects produced are called the “trivial many.”

Combining the discussion of the Pareto principle with the discussion in the last post regarding the distinction between sporadic vs. persistent problems, the authors rightly conclude that within each category the Pareto law holds.   That is, there is a Pareto distribution of sporadic problems as well as persistent problems.

So combining these two categories, the authors say that the best “bang-for-the-buck” that companies can get from their quality improvement activities is to go after the “vital few persistent problems”.  These cause the greatest headaches for companies, and going after them not only brings the greatest, well, headache relief, but the maximum results in terms of the bottom line.

The next post deals with the concept of “control limits”, which act like guardrails and lane markers on a highway to make sure the vehicle stays on the road.