I am a results oriented Master Black Belt with significant (over 30 years) “Drop in” experience in managing and execution of Six Sigma projects and programs. Major strengths in: statistical techniques, lean application, Critical Chain project, teaching and facilitation skills, listening, and working with diverse teams.
Here is a tool that I feel is the greatest tool for coming up with
good creative ideas. Ideas on what happened. Ideas on how it happened.
Ideas on what caused it. Ideas on how to fix it. Ideas on how to
Many times we are in meetings where discussions are taking place and
you try to add to the discussion only to have someone else ”Knicks”
your comments. The person “Knicking” really did not mean to make it
sound like your idea was bad but that is the way it came across.
Unusually, you will not add more to the conversation. Once put off we
tend to keep quite. Plus, I might add, the issue being discussed never
really gets resolved by the group. What is happening here is just
something that our culture seems to thrive on and that is negative
comments. We tend to always come up with why something will not work.
We seem to be focused on that. But we never or rarely come up with why
something will work, or at least what is good about that idea.
This tool helps in this discussion area to bring out what is good (
the golden nuggets) first and then discuss the issues with the idea
next. So here it the tool:
LCS stands for Likes, Concerns Suggestions. In
almost any meeting you can use this tool and you will be amazed at how
it improves the discussions in the meeting. Here is how it works:
Everyone in the room must use LCS. At first this means that you
will have to explain it to those in the room. Many times I’ll have soft
spongy toy’s around the room so if someone does not follow these rules
that anyone in the room can and will throw a toy at them to remind them
to use LCS.
LIKES – First, if you are going to make a comment about something the first thing you should say about it, is what you like.
In doing this you show the person that made the statement and the rest
of the members in the room that you understood what was said by
identifying things in the statement that you liked. What I call the
“Golden Nuggets” of an idea.
CONCERNS – Second, no idea (or comment) is perfect so many times we have some concerns about some points in the original statement. Well those get stated
next, but only if you have suggestions to improve or correct your
concerns. If you can not come up with a suggested improvement then DO
NOT STATE YOUR CONCERN. Why? Because you have no idea that is better.
If you did you could add it as a suggestion, which means that you could
now state your concern and suggestion for improving it.
SUGGESTIONS –Third, if you state a concern YOU MUST ALWAYS give a suggestion to improve on your concerns. In brainstorming this is called
piggybacking off someone else’s idea. They had an idea you liked some
of it you had some concerns and suggestions that made the idea better.
Usually the ideas created using LCS are far superior to those that
don’t. The reason for that is it is additive intelligence. With a good
cross-functional team using LCS a diverse amount of intelligence is
brought to the meeting and through LCS it is unleashed to solve an
issue or problem the team is working on.
Now remember in Six Sigma even this discussion is only an opinion of
the team or group. Now you have to go collect data and prove that the
opinion is correct.Well give it a try and let me know what you think.
Six Sigma Master Black Belt
From Process to Profits
There are a lot of reasons that Six Sigma projects fail but they do
not have to IF you can stick to the roadmap. I have done lots of
projects most very successful but some have failed. In every case we
stepped off of the tried and true path to success, the DMAIC roadmap.
As simple and easy as these five steps seem to be, you will many times
find them difficult to complete. But if that is happening, my advice to
you is to “stay on the path”. Don’t skip a single step. If you stay on
the path, you will find success.
DMAIC The five step process
So what are the five steps of this DMAIC roadmap? They are Define the issue, Measure the current state, Analyze and identify opportunities, Improve by implementing the best opportunities, and Control the
new process to maintain the gains. You start every project at Define
working your way through each step until you have put in place Controls
to maintain your gains. What many of us do without thinking is we see a
problem (Define)and go solve (improve) it. Most of the times you will
find that within a year or maybe even a month or week the problem is
back. What went wrong? We missed the other steps of the DMAIC roadmap.
So let me spend some time talking about each step.
D – Define
The objective of Define is to define the issue (problem) and the
real NEED to improve it. I call this need “the burning platform”. It
can not be a nice thing to do, it has to be something that will have an
impact on the bottom line of the company.
The second part of the define objective is to get alignment and
commitment to solve this issue from the project sponsor and the project
team. It also includes the team member’s supervision. We need them
committed so they will not pull the team member for priorities lower
than this project.
M – Measure
The objective of Measure is to go as a team, to where this process
is physically and factually understand the existing process. This means
collect facts and data not opinions. Everyone has an opinion but few
have the facts to back up the opinion. I am not discounting opinions
because most folks down in the trenches (and that is where you have to
go) are the experts and have excellent idea of what is happening. The
thing they lack is the data to prove it. So we listen to them carefully
and then collect the data to prove what is happening. Note I said
happening, that is not always what the expert says. But with the facts
and data we can now go back to the expert and see if they now agree
with what we found. Usually they do and are surprised by the findings.
The second part of the Measure objective is to then compile that
data you have collected into a characterization of the current state of
the process (the baseline for your project). This will show how bad
things are or are not. Most of the time things will be worse than they
first thought. In some cases, you may find that things are not bad at
all. Then you need to explain your results to the sponsor and if the
sponsor agrees close the project. You see sometimes even sponsors
opinion of what is wrong is not backed by facts and data. So when you
collect them it becomes obvious that this was not an issue.
A – Analyze
The objective of Analyze is to take the current state data and
analyze it to determine the root causes of the issue. These root causes
become opportunities to improve. Measure data shows you the “surface
effects” or “pain” the company feels but not usually the deeper root of
the issue. Because of that, you will usually find that you need to
collect more data related to the measure data that validates the teams
opinion of what is causing the current state issue to exist. So here in
Analyze we have to take a “Deep Dive” into areas that measure pointed
out as really needing improvement.
I – Improve
The objective of Improve is to develop and implement the best plan
for improvement of the opportunities (root causes) identified in the
Analyze step. There are two key phrases in this objective. “Develop the
best plan” and “implement the best plan”. Develop takes some
brainstorming and then some experimenting to validate that what you
came up with would work. Second in develop is a plan. In the plan you
will need several options so that when the time comes for getting an OK
to implement it is not one or done (no action taken). Give the sponsor
options to choose from but pick your best set and pitch it to them with
a why it is best (remember facts and data).
The second key phrase is “implement the best plan. Whatever is
picked, you need to create a detailed implementation plan. Create a
time line and stick to it.
C – Control
Note: this is the most forgotten step. The objective of Control is
to develop and implement the best controls to maintain the gains that
the new process is producing. With anything new, things never work
perfect. When things go wrong, as they will, you need a plan/ controls
that will guide everyone as to what to do. If you do not do this when
things go wrong, those involved will revert back to what they know and
have done for years. A control plan can be as simple as a log of what
happened, or as complex as a statistical control chart. What ever it is
it needs to help the people working the new process continue to follow
There is a second part to control that has nothing to do with
control but has everything to do with recognition. People on and off
the team have worked very hard during the project to solve the issue
and to keep things going while the team has worked to solve the issue.
There needs to be a celebration and rewards for everyone involved to
celebrate the success and their contribution to the solution. In
today’s business world, we are faster to tell folks what is wrong than
what is right so make sure you celebrate your success.
This is just a quick look at the DMAIC process and has not even
address questions that should be answered in each step. My plan is to
write five more articles each one addressing one of the steps in the
DMAIC process in more detail. If you don’t see them at this blog, you
will find them at the Six Sigma Knowledge Center.
Peter Bersbach Six Sigma Master Black Belt Bersbach Consulting LLC (520) 829-0090
You may have seen a couple of posts I have done on the seven types of waste. I have completed seven articles on all seven types of waste you might find in your organization. Below is a listing and a short description for each of the seven types of waste plus a link to the full article. I believe if you read these articles you will have a new way of looking at your business.
The Seven Types of Waste:
Correction - Corrections are and time you redo, rewrite, rework, repair, or scrap something. This can be as simple as rewriting a grocery list. Say you have a grocery list but you want to rearrange the items on it in the order you will encounter them in the store. Even though it will speed things for you shopping it had to be redone instead of thinking of making the list ordered in the first place. Redoing the list did not add any value to you; it took longer to write it a second time instead of doing it right the first time.
Overproductionn - Overproduction is when you make too much of something or you perform too much of a service for some one. Have you ever held a meeting and made copies for that meeting? Most people make a few extra, do you? That is overproduction they will end up in the trash. Or have you every as a question about something in a store and the salesman goes on an on answering your question when all you wanted was the simple answer? That salesman was overproducing
Movement of material or information - This type of waste is when you take any material for information and have to move it from one place to another. You may ship it or carry it your self but that movement does not create any value for the customer in fact it is lost time because it delays your product or service from getting to your customer
Motion of employees - This type of waste is when you or an operator has get up and walk or travel to get something to do their job. Just like movement of materials and information, motion of the operator does not create value. In fact the "thing" in the process is not changing at all
Waiting - This type of waste is when you, other employees, customer, material, or equipment sits idle waiting. Think about all the waiting rooms there are. As a customer do you want to wait? No but we sometime have come to expect the wait. I have been to doctor’s office where the waiting room is empty or full did not matter but in some I was seen on time and other I have waited over an hour.
Inventory or other resources - This type of waste is not just supplies and materials on shelves but also any recourse your company has that is not being utilized. We normal see inventory as parts and supplies sitting on a shelf like boxes of cereal in the grocery store. But here inventory also include equipment that is standing idle or in storage and employees that have skill that are not being used to their fullest.
Processes - This type of waste is when you are doing more than required by the customer. This is a hard one to understand because sometimes doing more for free has a WOW factor for your customers. That is why it is important to know what is of value and what is not. You see sometime you do sometime more that you think the customer wants and they do not care. That is when it becomes a waste.