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December 08, 2009

Stage:20 => Standardise & Review…

Hey all;

The last stages are today's topic. PMI improvement cycle will be ready for 2nd round after completing "Standardise & Review". Be careful; this is the last stage but there is no stop for this cycle. This is a ring thats turning continuously.

We have to standardise our improvement in the process and then prepare a Standardisation Document to handover the project to process management team. They will be responsible for anything else from then on. A standardisation document should include;

  • Process flowcharts,
  • Details of people involved in the process, responsibility and authority,
  • Data collection points,
  • Guidelines (Special causes or changes),
  • Training requirements,
  • And a clear explanation of why the change is required and how to implement it effectively in operational environment.

In order to keep people who are responsible, in the newly standardised method; we can use some visual aids, process checks and new technologies to help them.

This document should be handed over to process management team with explaining them every inch of this document and its responses in practice.

The project team can review conclusion of last project and discuss what they have learned from this experience. They can define if there is any other improvement that can be made to that project or is it on target with minimum variation. If it is on target with minimum variation then it is time for them to think about future improvements and start the cycle again.

I thought about gaming industry which needs an improvement every second. For instance; massive multiplayer online gaming companies. They have to improve their games as well as their facilities to support customers as rapidly as possible. Because; their market is worldwide and they have thousands of players. Blizzard is not one of them. They have millions of players and they have the biggest piece of the cake I suppose. Do I think they will continue to be that popular? I can say that they will be. But; the reason will not be their improvements on games, the reason will be their partnership and resources management. They are improving customer services rather than the game itself. And I mean "World of Warcraft" by game here. It became an addiction for players rather than a game.

Blizzard Leaders; if you can hear me, please use this cycle to improve the game as well. Think about the players that are addicted and cant quit. They want some respect and understanding I suppose. They are also waiting for SCII and DiabloIII. Please be careful Diablo III has good competitors. Watch out for Ubisoft and Activision.


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December 07, 2009

Stage:19 => Implement…

I hope that you have started a very good week;

This stage has three steps which I will cover them all in one entry I suppose;

  1. Understand Implementation Environment.
  2. Develop and Communicate a Plan.
  3. Monitor and Review the Plan.

Lets say; after studying the results, we had decided to adopt this change because it is an improvement for us. We have to pilot this solution within operational environment before complete adoption across the whole organisation. To do that we need to understand our implementation environment. Then the project team have to plan how to integrate the solution into this operational environment. We must be careful about socio-emotional processes here as well as we did in the previous stages. It is important to remember that most of the failed projects were because of socio-emotional issues. Our internal and external stakeholders will be affected by this change. We have to define those affects in this stage.

Here; we need an imlementation plan which is including;

  • Basic actions to take; main changes in the process,
  • Responsibilities and Responsible people; people that changes include and kind of responsibilities they have,
  • Training required for those to be affected; both mental and physical training,
  • time to completion for each task; general timeline,
  • A risk assessment and Contingency plans to prevent or recover from foreseeable problems; a ready Plan B to prevent negative results,
  • Updated Business case information with a cost/benefit analyse; main information that we need to learn.

We should use skill matrix for training plan and we will also need a communication matrix to make it more clear for stakeholders. We have to monitor and review our plan regularly to make it continuous and it will also help us to have some idea about further changes.

In my opinion; this implementation stage is very important for us to see if our efforts are really making it better. But we have to think twice about our plan B. Because; it may not be as perfect as possible in real environment rather than test environment. Operational environment can be very difficult to implement changes. There are socio-emotional barriers we have to overcome as well as some other barriers. Preperation, communication and training comes into play here.

Have a great week.


December 04, 2009

Stage:18 => Study Results…

Good afternoon everyone;

We have to "Study Results" after doing tests. Nooooo... Not just after the tests finished. We also need to watch results if we can while tests are in progress.

We must study data during the tests. See if there are;

  • Assignable cause present,
  • That cause sustained throughout test,
  • Does it represent improvement!!!

During the test or as the outcome of our test if we can see these on our chart then we have to make a decision to go on with the test or not. We can choose to adopt the changes or adopt changes on our test or abondon it and start from the start with another solution. If test has an improvement on our process we should choose to go on and adopt it. If test has some improvement but not sufficient enough then we can decide to adopt some minor changes on our plan. As last choice if we have negative results or no change at all; we would choose to abondon this solution.

We should use PDSA cycle throughout to;

  • Identify and validate cause of variation.
  • Test solutions to reduce cause.

We have to use test results on charts to control our improvement. This will help us to make our decision to adapt,adopt or abondon. We must consider the new process capability from this charts as well. We can see if we are on target with minimum variation. We need to continue to use PDSA to keep learning on our tests and experience.



December 03, 2009

Stage:17 => Test Theories…

Hey All;

Its time for us to "Test Theories" that we are going to define after these stages we have been through. There are three stages here but I will talk about all in one entry.

First we have to define possible solutions using the diagrams we prepared. There are many ways to define solutions;

  1. Open idea generation; as we all can imagine everyone tell their opinions, solutions loudly and discuss.
  2. Silent idea generation; everyone in the team writes down solutions to a piece of paper then all papers should be pinned on a board for everyone to see.
  3. Structured idea generation; a more structered way to reach solutions than the first two idea generation technics by leadership of team leader.
  4. Reverse idea generation; basicly about finding the reverse idea of real root cause.
  5. Analogy idea generation; considering about a very similar situation in a different sector.

After defining solutions with those idea generation technics; we have to consider which solution is better for us to follow and test it properly. We need to test if its working or not before applying any changes. There three types of selecting the best choice;

  • Voting; everyone votes as you can imagine.
  • Ranking; very similar with voting with usage of ranking system.
  • Criteria Based; more spesific and scientific way to reach a solution. We can identify selection criteria and rank solutions using a matrix.

At the last stage; we have a solution that we should test. Its time to plan and carry out the tests. Our plan would be based on our aim with this solution and is it really going to be an improvement to our process. The test itself needs some attention of course. These attention should be on experimental design, approval and scheduling issues, budgeting and comminucation requirements.

I think we have to be aware of choosing the best method for our team and for our situation to decide possible solutions. Everyone should contribute to this as well as other stages because it is important to us to bear in mind that there is nothing called as "silly question" or "suggestion" will be more appropriate here I suppose. We should prefer criteria-based solution selection to be more accurate. Having said that; it depends on our situation and team members to choose others of course. We have to think about which is going to be more useful for us to reach our aim. We can carry on with tests after planning them very carefully.

It is not easy to use this for managerial position changes and how would that affect a team. Its also not easy to use it to see if a change for coach's position. But you can use these easily on which balls to use while training and which technics can be used to train players I suppose.



December 01, 2009

Stage:16 => Measurement Variation…

Hello everyone;

Third and the last stage of "Investigate sources of variation and waste" is "Measurement Variation".

We created lots of diagrams and charts using data that we have collected but are we really sure about our data show facts. We have to bear in mind that process of taking measurements can itself effect variation. Using different people, using different methods, using different materials under different conditions while measuring would cause variation because of measurement process.

Total variation is made up of measurement variation in addition to true process variation. Therefore we have to monitor and consider improving the measurement process itself continuously. If we observe high variability, we need to improve the measurement process first before studying the actual process.

In my opinion; the most important thing about process improvement is measurement process. Because; we have to investigate and observe facts to see if we could change the outcomes. If we cant measure the facts as they should be then how can we think about improving our process.

I think I may have an example to this. Is victory in games a measure for a sports club's success or not? They are just results so we shouldn't measure a club's success with places that they had in all leagues in all categories. There are many things which we would discuss and examine before going into a decision about their success. Overall perfermance is not enough for decision. It has a good percentage on decision making generally. However; I think it has NOT. The executive board has many different opinions when choosing a new manager for the club. And they generally fall into this mistake of measurement differences I suppose. Some believe victory is important and measure overall performance, some ( less than others ) believe success starts from hearts and measure love and belief for the club.

I hope I could be able to explain it as I really mean to.



November 30, 2009

Stage:15 => Collect Data to Verify and Address Root Causes…

I wish you a very good week;

Here we go with another topic under "Investigate sources of variation and waste". The second stage on usage of scatter diagrams.

Scatter diagrams are helping us to see nature of relationship between two variables. Whether one variable is effecting the other or not. This is a useful tool to show us if there is a relationship between cause and effects or not. Also if there is a relationship then we can see how are they related as well.

  • Positive Relationship; if effect gets higher result is getting higher either.
  • Negative Relationship; if effect gets higher result is getting lower.
  • No Relationship; random data points around the graph. Neither one is effecting the other in a way.

The principle of stratification helps us to identify underlying causes of variation by splitting data set in a scatter diagram into smaller ones allowing comparison between them. The underlying causes would be very easy to fix but not to spot at first sight. It might give us a relatively easy solution to our problems. There is something about this scatter diagrams that we have to be very careful. A relationship on a scatter diagram doesn't always mean cause and effect. Maybe two variables are effects of another cause which we are not aware of.

We have to use these tools efficiently to identify root causes of varitaion in our process I suppose. Scatter diagrams can be divided into smaller ones with collecting more data. Therefore we will use every piece of information we have to learn all types of differentiation in that variation. For instance; think about a football team. There are many reasons for their success and/or failure. Lets say one of the failure reason should be the coach and variation in his actions. You have to examine his actions to diiferent players, to different situations in diiferent times. After that you will have facts to reach a decision.

I hope every team will have a coach who is a talented leader. If that happens someday; the matches will become more enjoyable for the supporters.



November 29, 2009

Stage:14 => Generate Ideas and Prioritise Root Causes…

Hey all;

New step called "Investigate sources of variation and waste" is going to be our general topic. This is the first stage of it.

After completing our control chart, we are able to see different variations of the process. Now we have to investigate their reasons by colllecting more data about those variations individually and we will use new tools to help us on discovering root causes. These tools are;

  • Pareto Diagram
  • Cause & Effect ( Fish ) Diagram
  • Scatter Diagram

All of these diagrams are useful and important tools to help our investigation. Therefore we will use all of them in this step. We will start with first two in this stage. We need to build up a Pareto diagram to see what are the main reasons that are causing variation. We will see how many different types of things happening and causing those variations. Then we should look for which one is causing us more trouble. We need to choose that problem and focus on it more carefully in a Cause & Effect diagram. We will brainstorm with the team members on what kind of causes took us to that effect. We will decide some topics to investigate and collect data in the following days/weeks/months depending on our process.

I think; we have to be very careful about usage of these tools. These tools are helping us to identify the causes of common cause variation. Pareto diagrams help to identify the "vital few" contributing causes, based on evidence that we collected. Cause & Effect diagrams help to identify a number of causes that can be verified with real data. We still need to collect more data about causes that are affecting our process.



November 28, 2009

Stage:13 => Listen to the Voice of Process…

Happy Eid Al-Addha everyone;

This is going to be the last stage of "Learn about process". After all preparation it is time to put all data in charts and graphs.

We have three main steps to listen to the Voice of Process. They are;

  • Run Chart and Histogram
  • Control Chart
  • Process Capability

We hope our process to be on target with minimum variation. Causes of variation may have beeen common occurrence or unique. To see that we have to form theories. We create Run charts and histograms to do that first. By using these basic data analysis systems to learn more about our process. Types of variation have effects. Common cause variations are stable and predictable. In contrast; Assignable cause variations are unstable and unpredictable.

Converting charts and data to a Control Chart is very important to listen to the voice of our process. Control charts have two limits. Upper control limit and lower control limit. After we have these limits, we can learn about our process's stability on that control chart. There are two rules that we should be careful;

Rule A: If there are data points higher than UCL or lower than LCL then our process is not stable.
Rule B: If there are eight or more data points in one side of the average in a row that means our process is not stable.

If our process is capable, we can measure the process capability with comparing VoP with VoC. This will help us to find out; how well a stable process would meet customer requirements and help us to prioritise process improvement efforts. Before starting process capability study you should have;

  • Meaningful customer requirement data,
  • Process performance data depending on experience,
  • Process that is stable and predictable.

In my opinion; we have to find and eliminate assignable cause variations a.s.a.p. Then we must reduce common cause variations as much as possible. We must use our prior knowledge to listen to the voice of process more effectively. We have to be careful about stability of our process before comparing it with VoC. A capable process is our aim here therefore we need to take our time to measure every variation data.



November 27, 2009

Stage:12 => Define Data Collection…

Good afternoon everyone;

Here I am going to try to briefly describe the 5th stage of " Learn about process" which is "Define data collection".

It is very crutial to plan data collection carefully. We have to;

  • Collect right information; we must choose the facts that we really need correctly,
  • Perform right analysis; we must choose the right way to analyse data which we collected.

There are two types of Data;

  1. Qualitative Data; informative data rather than statistical and/or numerical data. (e.g.: color, name, etc... )
  2. Quantitative Data; numerical and/or statistical data which is more identified. (e.g.: Size, number, weight, etc... )

There are also two types of Quantitative data;

  1. Attributes data; measurement of counts.
  2. Variables data; measurement of characteristics.

We can obtain more information from variables data rather than attributes data. We would use variables data wherever possible. We can prepare a Data collection Sheet to help with this process. We would always make trials on data collection and methods using PDSA cycle as a tool.

I think; we shouldn't make decisions without right facts that we have to collect and measure. If we could not choose the right way to collect data, we would not reach improvements. We have to know where we are and which areas should be improved after collecting data.

Eid Mubarek Mankind.



November 26, 2009

Stage:11 => Select Key Measures…

Hey all;

Today we will talk about a critical part of process improvement system of PMI. Stage 4 of "Learn about process" which is; "Select Key Measures".

This stage is important because;

  • We could be able to see Current process performance clearly.
  • We could be able to predict and see Impact of process changes.
  • We could be able to aware of Signals regarding potential problems in the process.

There are two types of measurement;

  1. Results Measures; they are easy to identify but they might not lead you to improvement.
  2. Process Measures; changes should be visible in the process.

We have to convert Voice of the customer to Customer Words to understand what our customer really wants. We have to convert it to a measurable type of words to use in matrix tables.

  • First we would compare customer words with results measures in a "Customer - Result Matrix".
  • Second we would generate process measures from the results measures with "Process - Result Matrix".
  • We would decide which process measures to investigate further from relationship strength with results.
  • We would decide which results measures to monitor and check from relationship strength with process.
  • We must not leave it here, we must monitor the situation carefully and check periodically if something changed.
  • We have to investigate further to form new theories to improve.

I suppose; it is really important that we shouldn't reach a decision without measuring the facts. We need good measurement technics to set more realistic and accountable goal/s. It is important to have measures to know if changes made results to improve. We will have some actual data on results if we can use right measurement technics.



p.s.: BESIKTAS 1 - 0 Man Utd. Congratulations BESIKTAS. Thanks Allah for answering our prayers on yesterday's match. Thanks to our fans, those never stop chanting whole match.

f3n3r @ home, un1ted @ world... :)

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