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Following A Data-Based Approach In The Six Sigma Decision Making Process

Mar 1, 2008
Other quality management systems were unable to achieve the same level of success because instead of using a data-based approach, they relied on conventional methods of decision-making, namely "intuitive" and "authoritative".

These methods may have worked well at the beginning of the industrial revolution, but due to the increasing complexity of business processes, these methods failed to achieve the desired results.

In comparison, Six Sigma's insistence on following a data-based approach enabled it to undertake quality improvements even in the most complex business processes that exist in today's globalized world.

How the Data-Based Approach Helps

Compared to earlier times, business processes have now become increasingly complex, making it quite impossible to predict the outcome of a quality improvement initiative undertaken by an organization. It may seem all good on paper, but when it comes to actual implementations, it is very difficult to determine whether the selected improvement initiative will give the desired results or not.

Decisions based on gut feelings and personal opinions may work wonders sometimes, but since these decisions are unverifiable, it does not make sense to implement such decisions, especially in high-stakes Six Sigma implementation projects. In comparison, following a data-based approach helps because it is based on time-tested scientific theories that can be verified using specialized tools and techniques.

When decisions are made using accurate data collected through automated Information Technology (IT) systems, the probability of an improvement initiative going wrong is reduced automatically.

This is why businesses nowadays rely more on the collected data for taking vital decisions during Six Sigma implementation projects.

Overcoming Barriers to the Data-Based Approach

Following a data-based approach is no doubt beneficial, but just like any other system, it has its own set of flaws that need to be taken care of before initializing the implementation process. For example, if there is an error in the collected data, it would create more problems rather than solving them.

No doubt, the probability of errors is minimal when advanced IT systems are used, but since there is always a chance for errors, it makes sense to deploy counter-verification systems for ensuring the accuracy of the collected data. This may entail some additional costs for the organization, but when the success of the entire project is at stake, additional costs should not be a cause for concern for an organization. Additionally, since at present there is no other system that can guarantee better results than the data-based approach, it makes sense to opt for the same.

Over the years, the data-based approach has enabled many businesses to make phenomenal improvements in the quality of goods and services, minimize operational costs, and reduce waste. In other words, these businesses have been able to realize the full potential of Six Sigma by following the prescribed data-based decision making process.

There is no reason why businesses should not induct the highly effective data-based approach as a part of their overall management system rather than using it just for Six Sigma implementations.
About the Author
Tony Jacowski is a quality analyst for The MBA Journal. Aveta Solution's Six Sigma Online offers online six sigma training and certification classes for lean six sigma, black belts, green belts, and yellow belts.
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