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Category: Business

Autor: anton 11 July 2011

Words: 1478 | Pages: 6

"The Six Sigma Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, Control (DMAIC) Process"1

Six Sigma – DEFINE process includes:

• Define the project: purpose, scope, and resources in the charter

• Develop the SIPOC (Suppliers-Inputs-Process-Outputs-Customers) map to understand the process

• Determine project goals the fit customer needs (Voice of the Customer)

Six Sigma – MEASURE process includes:

• Collect baseline data on suspected problem

• Plot the data in time order

• Use Pareto charts to pinpoint occurrence

• Calculate process sigma

• Create detailed process maps to analyze waste and bottlenecks

Six Sigma – ANALYZE process includes:

• Focus on the problems identified in the "Measure" process

• Brainstorm as many potential causes as possible

• Select a few of the most likely causes and collect data on them

• Use statistical methods to quantify the effects

Six Sigma – IMPROVE process includes:

• Brainstorm many ideas for improvement

• Select solutions: select criteria to assess alternative solutions, then evaluate alternatives through testing

• Develop plans, including tasks, timelines, budget, resources, and stakeholders

• Plot the selected solutions using PDCA cycles

• Implement plans, including the means by which you will check results

• Interpret the charts to quantify effects of solutions

• Evaluate overall results against the methods used to achieve them

Six Sigma – CONTROL process includes:

• Document the new methods in order to develop standard work procedures

• Provide training to those who will use new methods

• Monitor implementation and make course corrections

• Create a process to update and improve the method

• Summarize and communicate key lessons learned to others

• Recommend next project to further increase sigma level

1Condensed from Six Sigma Black Belt Training developed by Oriel Inc

The Cause and Effect Diagram (a.k.a. Fishbone)

By Kerri Simon

When utilizing a team approach to problem solving, there are often many opinions as to the problem's root cause. One way to capture these different ideas and stimulate the team's brainstorming on root causes is the cause and effect diagram, commonly called a fishbone. The fishbone will help to visually display the many potential causes for a specific problem or effect. It is particularly useful in a group setting and for situations in which little quantitative data is available for analysis.

The fishbone has an ancillary benefit as well. Because people by nature often like to get right to determining what to do about a problem, this can help bring out a more thorough exploration of the issues behind the problem - which will lead to a more robust solution.

To construct a fishbone, start with stating the problem in the form of a question, such as 'Why is the help desk's abandon rate so high?' Framing it as a 'why' question will help in brainstorming, as each root cause idea should answer the question. The team should agree on the statement of the problem and then place this question in a box at the 'head' of the fishbone.

The rest of the fishbone then consists of one line drawn across the page, attached to the problem statement, and several lines, or 'bones,' coming out vertically from the main line. These branches are labeled with different categories. The categories you use are up to you to decide. There are a few standard choices:

Table 1: Fishbone Suggested Categories

Service Industries

(The 4 Ps)

________________________________________ Manufacturing Industries

(The 6 Ms)

________________________________________ Process Steps

(for example)


• Policies

• Procedures

• People

• Plant/Technology • Machines

• Methods

• Materials

• Measurements

• Mother Nature


• Manpower

(People) • Determine Customers

• Advertise Product

• Incent Purchase

• Sell Product

• Ship Product

• Provide Upgrade

You should feel free to modify the categories for your project and subject matter.

Once you have the branches labeled, begin brainstorming possible causes and attach them to the appropriate branches. For each cause identified, continue to ask 'why does that happen?' and attach that information as another bone of the category branch. This will help get you to the true drivers of a problem.

Figure 1: Fishbone Diagram Example

Once you have the fishbone completed, you are well on your way to understanding the root causes of your problem. It would be advisable to have your team prioritize in some manner the key causes identified on the fishbone. If necessary, you may also want to validate these prioritized few causes with a larger audience.

Process Improvement Made Easy: The Cause and Effect aka Ishikawa aka Fishbone Diagram

The Ishikawa diagram comes under many guises; cause and effect diagram or fishbone diagram, but it’s generally referring to the same problem solving tool. Dr Kaoru Ishikawa, an esteemed quality expert, gave his name to this simple, yet effective problem solving tool. In this Process Improvement Made Easy series, is the fishbone diagram explained in everyday language.

Why use a Cause and Effect Diagram?

If you want to discover the root cause of a problem and need a structured method to guide a team through a problem solving process, then the cause and effect diagram is for you. The tool allows a team to identify, explore and display in increasing detail, all of the possible causes of a problem, to eventually flush out the root cause(s) of the problem.

How do I use a Fishbone Diagram?

The process to follow is basically the same, regardless of industry or problem. It’s best to gather a team of people who have the right skills, knowledge and experience of the problem to collectively identify all the reasons why the problem may be occurring.

Top Tip - How Do You Eat An Elephant?

If your ideal team list is long, your problem is possibly too complex to solve in one hit, so consider breaking your problem up into more manageable (and edible!) chunks.

Okay, you’ve assembled your team – now you have to agree on a problem statement.

It’s Cookie Time!

Let’s take the fictitious example of a Cookie making process.

The problem statement could be “Cookies are sometimes burnt or undercooked and have to be thrown away”. This might be enough detail, but it’s probably worth detailing “what”, “where”, “when” and “how much” to get a better understanding of the problem.

The problem statement could be refined as “4% of double chocolate chip cookies are burnt, and 0.5% are undercooked, and have to be thrown away”. At this point you might reason that it’s better to focus on the larger problem, and attempt to resolve the undercooking problem another day.

Top Tip - If It Moves, Measure It!

If you can’t quantify your problem, consider collecting some data before you go any further. Remember, you’re aiming to separate fact from opinion and identify the root cause of the problem.

Draw the following fishbone diagram template up on a flip chart or large board, ensuring plenty of space.

Top Tip - The Writing's On The Wall

In most cases, it will be most practical to write on paper, as this can be rolled up and brought to the next meeting.

You Shall Have a Fishy...

The problem statement is written at the “head” of the fish, with the 4 main causes of the problem coming of from the back bone. In manufacturing, the four main cause headings are usually “Machinery, People, Methods and Material” or in a service industry “Policy, Procedures, Plant and People”. Alternatively, you could list major steps in the process.

Top Tip - Sprats or Salmon?

There is no right way to do this - indeed you may require 6 bones. Just make the fishbone fit the problem, and your appetite!

Now it’s over to the team to come up with as many reasons why the problem is occurring.

Top Tip - Problems, problems!

Task the team with individually writing problem causes on post-it notes – one problem per note – for, say, 10 minutes. Then as a team, place each reason under the main cause headings, building up a detailed picture of why the problem is happening.

If you’re team are newly formed, consider using icebreakers or creative brainstorming activities to warm things up.

Top Tip - and the fish said "What is water?"

Remember that people are natural problem solvers and may have spent years doing creative work arounds, to get over routine problems. Indeed, these practices may be so ingrained they’re considered part of the job. If so, it’s your job to flush this out and solve the root cause of the problem by asking “why, why, why” for each reason.

Why, oh why, oh why!

You’ve completed a detailed fishbone diagram, and asked why 3 times for each reason. What next? There are probably a few causes that stand out as being the most likely root causes, and now it’s time to take action. It may be that further monitoring and data collection is required to establish a solid connection between the root cause and the effect, or you may have to rely on common sense and “gut feel” on where to start. Either way, you will have a clearer understanding of the problem and what’s causing it, and invest time and money on the right solution.

Whether you choose to call it the Fishbone, Cause and Effect or Ishikawa Diagram, it's an effective, every day problem solving tool. Just keep it simple!

This document and anlysis during presentation by:

By Lyndsay Swinton

Owner, Management for the Rest of Us

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