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Six Sigma And The Simplicity Of Measurements

Nov 26, 2007
Misconceptions About Six Sigma Measurements

The word Six Sigma has given rise to many misconceptions among the business community. This starts with the measurements that the Six Sigma team collects for devising a Six Sigma strategy. Black Belt Six Sigma professionals create further complications by using innumerable complex charts, graphs, diagrams and jargon to explain their clients about the same. More often than not, the clients complain that they get so dumbfounded and overwhelmed by drawing graphs and charts that they don't have the time to sit back and analyze the whole situation properly and improve fault areas.

Purpose Of The Measurement

In the interest of saving more time and reducing complications while collecting your data, you can first try out defining the purpose of collecting measurements. The main purpose behind collecting measurements is to guide, forewarn and inform. Let's discuss these points in detail:

-Guidance helps in correcting and directing the course of flight while your business is running.

-Measurement also forewarns the implementing group about any potential problems like trends or vacillation on control charts.

-Measurements also help the customers, suppliers or the leaders of any business by informing them about the progress made.

Now that you are aware of the purpose for which you should be collecting measurements you need to analyze the situation once again. Check out measurements that aren't useful for any of the above mentioned three purposes. Do you really need to retain them, or can some other measurements can be used in its place?

For Unnecessary Measurements You Can Do The Following:

-Start suspending the information that is questionable and if any department later asks for that particular information, make sure that you ask them how they are using that particular information and if some other measurement will serve the purpose.

-If the suspended measurement is not resurrected in two to three months then delete it altogether from your database.

-Scan your database properly to find out those "vital few measurements of failure" that everyone relies on to make improvements and decisions. These are defects and they delay the process and increase the cost of implementation, they should be suspended immediately.

-Take special note of measurements of success like profit and ROI. They are quite useful in the implementation process.

Things To Keep In Mind While Collecting Measurements:

After discussing the purpose and unnecessary measurements, the question arises how to create one's own process measurement. Given below are four tips that will help you in creating your own process measures:

-Define what is significant for your business.

-Map the cross-functional process to deliver these results.

-Identify the critical tasks and capabilities required for completing the process fortuitously.

-Design those measures to track the critical tasks and capabilities.

Also Keep In Mind The Most Common Mistakes That Are Done While Measuring:

-Collecting unnecessary piles of data instead of using balanced scorecard to identify the few vital ones.

-All that data will be considered inaccurate, late or unreliable that is collected after the expiry of real time.

-Collecting measurements to meet a target instead of trying to understand the process.

-Stop your Six Sigma team from following the principle of one-size fits all (i.e. a measurement too broad or specific is being used for calculating all parameters).

-Don't trust a measurement blindly. Make sure that there is evidence that confirm the source of the measurement.

-Don't collect your measurements on the basis of a micrometer vs. yardstick approach i.e. measuring unimportant things and ignoring the important ones.

Always use your data to learn something and make things better. If your employees collect unnecessary data the instead of punishing them try to fix the process. Hopefully all the above mentioned points will help to streamline your measurement process, saving a lot of time and resources.
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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