How to Solve Your Problems With Lean Six Sigma (Free DMAIC Checklist)

lean six sigma

Elisabeth Swan is the co-author of “The Problem-Solver’s Toolkit” and co-host of “The Just-in-Time Cafe Podcast.” She’s been a process improvement consultant, speaker, and innovator for over 30 years. She’s the Chief Learning Experience Officer for GoLeanSixSigma.com, a former cast member of ImprovBoston, and – if asked – may still be able to ride a unicycle.

Surgeon Atul Gawande made headlines when he told the world that a simple checklist could drastically reduce unnecessary deaths in The Checklist Manifesto.

Yet, checklists conjure images of forklift drivers on loading docks with clipboards counting boxes. How could they transform healthcare?

He has… produced a 90-second checklist which reduced deaths and complications by more than one-third in eight hospitals around the world – at virtually no cost and for almost any operation.” – James Clarke, reviewing The Checklist Manifesto, Ulster Med J. 2011 Jan; 80(1): 54.

Aviation was transformed decades earlier when management and engineers at Boeing Corporation created the pre-flight checklist after the 1935 crash of the prototype Boeing B-17 at Wright Field in Dayton, Ohio. Checklists have become so essential to the airline industry that most crashes can be traced to the misuse or failure to complete a checklist.

A New York Times reviewer noted, “no matter how expert you may be, well-designed checklists can improve outcomes”. Since the purpose of process improvement is improving outcomes, Lean Six Sigma and checklists are natural companions.

To prove that, this Process Street blog post will show the relationship between checklists and lean six sigma, and provide you with a free DMAIC Improvement Project Tollgate Checklist that you can use right now.

Use the links below to jump to that section of the post:

Or, if you just want the checklist, check it out below!

Let’s get started.

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8D Chess: How to Use The 8 Disciplines for Problem Solving

8d

Hospitals have developed something of a reputation for being rife with bad processes. When processes aren’t adequate, the result is an abundance of “workarounds”.

For example, when equipment or supplies are missing, a nurse might waste time running around searching for what is needed, and once the item is found, return to their previous duties.

One study indicates that nurses spend 33 minutes of a 7.5-hour shift completing workarounds that are not part of their job description.

This may well “put out the fire” so-to-speak, but really it is just a hastily applied band-aid that does nothing to treat the root cause of the problem.

More time is wasted and more problems will arise in the future because nothing has been done to prevent the initial problem from happening again.

Individual nurses are not at fault here; workplace culture often values expertise in the form of those who “get the job done”, which tends to pull against the notion of spending time building good processes (time in which the job is perhaps not “getting done”).

So how to approach the problem of problem solving?

In a lean context, problem solving can be distilled into two simple questions:

  • What is the problem and how did it happen?
  • How can we make sure that it doesn’t happen again?

The 8D, or eight disciplines methodology, is a problem solving process – most likely one of the most widely used problem solving processes out there. It is used by many different countries, in many different industries, and many different organizations.

8D is designed to help you put out those fires, and make sure they don’t happen again.

In this article, I’ll introduce you to the 8D problem solving methodology and provide you with an outline of the basic process that you can hopefully apply in your own business, plus how you can enhance 8D with other tools and methodologies like Six Sigma, FMEA, and Process Street.

Here’s what I hope you’ll take away after reading:

Let’s begin with the origins of 8D – what is it, and where did it come from? Continue Reading

What is Quality Management? The Definitive QMS Guide (Free ISO 9001 Template)

QUALITY MANAGEMENT

Deepwater Horizon – arguably one of the most catastrophic industrial disasters of human history, and the estimated largest marine oil spill in the history of the petroleum industry.

It also happens to be one of the most abysmal failures of quality management by any company, period.

On an otherwise unsuspecting evening of April, 2010, approximately 50 miles off the coast of Louisiana in the Gulf of Mexico, the first in a chain of quality management related failures became glaringly apparent as the emergency response protocols were enforced after an oil leak in the drilling well was discovered.

The oversights were as follows:

  • Lack of proper quality assessment resulted in weak, potentially contaminated cement or “drilling mud” used in the initial failsafe failing to properly block the leak.
  • Fluid pressure tests were not properly carried out and clear warnings were ignored.
  • Rising oil and gas levels were not properly monitored.
  • The final failsafe on the ocean floor, designed to close the leaking pipe shut, failed to close due to the conditions of the drill pipe.

The aftermath of this chain of negligence left 11 people dead, caused over 130 million gallons of oil to leak into the Atlantic Ocean, and cost over $62 billion in damages.

Not one point of failure, but four. Clearly not an anomaly, this disaster was the result of a series of systematic failures that uncover a dark truth about the reality of cost-cutting and disregard for quality control.

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The 7 Core Six Sigma Principles to Build Your Business Around

six sigma principles headerFinding ways to improve processes within your organization can be tough.

There always seems to be so many things to measure and so many variables to consider.

Where do you start? How do you determine what’s good? Who takes responsibility for improvement?

Fortunately, you don’t have to go in blind.

There are loads of approaches you can take to process improvement, but one of the key techniques used by some of the world’s top companies is Six Sigma.

The Six Sigma school of thought is all about finding the right focus and tightening up processes around that goal. The end result should be the reduction of defects from a process. This saves resources, time, effort, and most of all money!

In this Process Street article, we’re going to give you an intro into Six Sigma while linking off to resources for you to explore deeper.

We’ll investigate the key Six Sigma principles which can shape and direct process improvement in your business.

The core Six Sigma principles

The 7 key Six Sigma principles we’ll cover are:

  • Always focus on the customer
  • Understand how work really happens
  • Make your processes flow smoothly
  • Reduce waste and concentrate on value
  • Stop defects through removing variation
  • Get buy-in from the team through collaboration
  • Make your efforts systematic and scientific

You could categorize these as lean Six Sigma if you want to as well.

Given the evolving nature of the different schools of business process improvement, there will always likely be some disagreement over what the specific principles are.

For this reason, I feel it’s important to include the various competing principles even if some other lists might look at only 5 or 6 principles.

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DFSS: How Design For Six Sigma can Supercharge Your Business

dfss design for six sigmaAs we build businesses, we strive to make them successful in what they do and efficient in the way they carry that out.

Six Sigma is framework with dual American and Japanese origins which helps companies achieve both of these aims.

We want to take company processes and make them better, smoother, faster, easier – it’s what Process Street does. But having a complex process optimized to the highest degree, as Six Sigma advocates, is tough.

That’s why we’re going to look at Design for Six Sigma.

This will take the Six Sigma lessons and apply them to creating new processes or products. Importantly, it will help us set up these processes or products in a way which makes them ready from the start for further Six Sigma-inspired analysis.

According to Quality-One:

…[U]tilizing Design for Six Sigma methodologies, companies have reduced their time to market by 25 to 40 percent while providing a high quality product that meets the customer’s requirements.

In this article, we’ll look at:

  • What is Six Sigma?
  • What is Design for Six Sigma?
  • What is DMADV?
  • What is the difference between DMAIC and DFSS

We’ll run through the best practices of creating new products and processes in a way that they can be improved and optimized from the very beginning.

Don’t waste your time with poor processes. Start right and continue properly.

Read on to see how it works!

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Jidoka: Why Automation Plus Intelligence Equals Best Results

jidokaAutomation is all the rage right now.

We at Process Street can’t stop going on about it.

Automation can save time and money while taking the monotonous tasks out of your employees’ days.

It’s a win-win.

But, in order to approach automation properly, it’s best to understand the development of automation over time and what best practices are used in order to deliver effective automations in your business.

That’s why this Process Street article will look at the core Toyota principle of Jidoka, including:

  • What is Jidoka?
  • What are the related concepts within the Toyota Production System?
  • 3 examples of Jidoka in practice

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Taylorism and The History of Processes: 6 Key Thinkers You Should Know

taylorismIf you want to employ approaches like business process management in your business it’s best to have a solid understanding of how these theories work.

One crucial aspect of using these theories correctly is understanding their development.

It’s common for managers to want to employ cutting edge ideas in their business, but without a deep understanding these methods can be misapplied.

These errors will reduce the effectiveness of your process management and hold your business back.

It’s not just business where process improvement efforts are regularly being undermined! In a recent meta-study from the British Medical Journal, researchers found only 2 out of 73 studies had applied the PDSA process improvement methodology in a way which fully met criteria. Commenting:

To progress the development of the science of improvement, a greater understanding of the use of improvement methods, including PDSA, is essential to draw reliable conclusions about their effectiveness.

In this Process Street article, we’re going to look at some of the fundamentals and pick out key historical thinkers whose work we can trace from in order to better inform how process improvement methods should be done. Including:

  • Who is Frederick Winslow Taylor?
  • What is Taylorism?
  • What W. Edwards Deming can teach us about continuous improvement
  • Why Taiichi Ohno helps you cut waste in your business
  • What Ludwig von Bertalanffy tells us about systems
  • How Bill Smith changed the way we view defects
  • What Ray Dalio can show us about company culture

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DMAIC: The Complete Guide to Lean Six Sigma in 5 Key Steps

dmaic headerWe all like to know about the broader philosophies behind process improvements, but sometimes we need to knuckle down and look at some of the more technical details.

One of the core techniques behind any process improvement, particularly in Six Sigma, is DMAIC.

This handy approach, pronounced duh-may-ik, is the key to employing Six Sigma and beginning your journey to being a process hero. We’re going to cover each step in the process and detail how to effectively enact every section.

This guide will lead you through from start to finish and get you ready to start employing lean Six Sigma within your business!

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