Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Not a Six Sigma Project

In the past two weeks, I've had two near-accidents: one on my bicycle, the other in the car. In some companies that wouldn't even get a mention. In others which pay attention to hassles and headaches, it would generate some interest. Still others who would think these things a defect would create a Six Sigma team to deal with the issue.

I know what caused consternation for the pickup driver when I blasted past him on my bike: I couldn't see the stop sign because the morning sun in my eyes blurred any visibility as it hit my sweat-smeared sunglasses. I also know what caused me to brake suddenly in the middle of an intersection as a car from my right appeared in front of me: I couldn't see the other car because of how my rear-view mirror is positioned--just right to obscure any vehicles on the far side of the intersection approaching from the right.

So why wouldn't these two incidents be good Six Sigma candidates? Likewise, why wouldn't business problems for which we know the causes be candidates?

If we know the causes, it's easy to determine the solution options. Of course, if we already know the solution, no need to follow the DMAIC methodology path in order to arrive at the destination you determined beforehand. (DMAIC is Define-Measure-Analyze-Improve-Control). The key to the methodology is to prioritize which service, process or product characteristics are important to the customer. We want to fully understand the relationship between the process outputs and those characteristics, and which inputs significantly influence those outputs. From that information, we can figure out some good solutions that will allow us to consistently meet or exceed customer expectations.

I know the cause of my near-accident on the bike. I just have to be creative on some solutions. I also know the cause of the near-accident in the car and have corrected it (a mechanic friend reminded me that most mirror mounts are double-hinged and the vertical placement can be adjusted).

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