Dmaic Problem Solving

Dmaic Problem Solving-44
Recent history has shown that these ambitious claims have not been borne-out universally and rarely in particular.

Recent history has shown that these ambitious claims have not been borne-out universally and rarely in particular.

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Fast forward ten years, Motorola’s quality levels and more probably bottom line savings (using unique accounting practices of additive, forward extrapolation) attracted the attention of Fortune 500 CEOs like Jack Welch at GE and Larry Bossidy at Allied Signal. Allied Signal’s Bossidy “…applied it to every business, from inventing and commercializing a new product to billing and collections…” (Harry, 2006).

Welch saw Six Sigma as something more than just a production-problem-solving methodology used to improve quality, but as the core of GE’s business strategy and something to be infused into the hearts and minds of every GE employee: “This is not the program of the month. Both CEOs also utilized Six Sigma training as a proving ground and management development program for organizational elites.

During this period, the traditional (or preexisting) quality and continuous improvement initiatives, primarily TQM, were largely scrapped or simply dissolved, as was the case at Allied Signal.

Since going mainstream, legions of Six Sigma consultants and pundits continued to stretch the basic MAIC into DMAIC (Define was added to address initial setbacks), and subsequently into an all encompassing organizational business and change strategy.

In this article, David Joecken, a Six Sigma Master-Blackbelt at a privately-owned tier-one automotive supplier, examines Six Sigma’s historical legacy and projects its future role.

From Six Sigma’s initial creation and conception thirty years ago, to its widespread appeal, a potential exaggeration and overextension is postulated.A subsequent exploration and critique of the potential strengths and over-extensions is conducted in the following areas: A final observation using the (character witness of) North American-specific history of quality management and improvement initiatives, postulates that Six Sigma, although a credible methodology, was oversold as part of an ongoing cultural and economic convention.In the last 50 years, many continuous improvement and quality management methods and initiatives have been developed and adopted by the United States and global industry.The DMAIC methodology has been generally accepted as a credible and effective approach for Problem Solving since the mid-1990s.Although the deterministic nature of y=f(x) focus and structured approach of hypothesis generation and data-based testing, are basically the core of the scientific method, the DMAIC method is underpinned by an expansive toolbox of statistical methods and very accessible improvement techniques.Six Sigma’s initial savings benefits as reported by Motorola, GE and Allied Signal were initially categorized as quality related, and because accurately assessing costs in “quality is not a concept commonly used in economic theories” (de Mast, 2007), their exactness may come into question.However exact or inexact, this financially blessed quantification of benefits distinguished Six Sigma as being much more appealing than TQM for example, as a tangible benefits provider (Klefsoe, Bergquist, Edgeman, 2006.).It was essentially a scientific problem solving method originally using a fourstep-MAIC (Measure, Analyze, Improve, Control) approach.It became practiced derigueur in manufacturing at Motorola by the mid-to-late 1980s.Some of these initiatives — TWI (Training within Industry), Deming Cycle/SPC, Zero Defects, TQM (Total Quality Management), Lean, and TOC (Theory of Constraints) — appear to have been introduced as an all-encompassing panacea to an entire organization’s problems — that is, until the next imitative was introduced (Schoen, 2007).In retrospect, each of these initiatives has had something unique and specific to add towards the advancement of continuous improvement and quality management, and deserve their portion of a positive historical legacy and continued use. It was rolled out as a scientific/determinist approach to problem solving by Motorola in the early 1990s and quickly expanded outwards to be a solve-all philosophy of strategic and change management, continuous improvement, leadership and product development and the best approach to bottom-line savings.

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