All 6 entries tagged Sigma

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March 12, 2009

Ch ch ch ch changessss!

The most interesting question I took of from the PIUSS PMA (that tks God, I already sent on Monday) was questioning myself if one is really able to build a planned process to change the culture of an organisation. REading books about it I found lot`s of arguments for (and a few against. Smaller quantities because defending that is not possible is obviously less interesting commercially speaking....)

I particularly think that it is possible. But it will take a LONG time. And will need not only a method, a plan, but a lot of skill and occasionally a quite strong fist. I thing it is almost impossible (if not impossible) to change a whole organisation`s culture (unless, perhaps, if it is a small or recently created organisation) smiling, without beeing quite hard and though from time to time.

But I think is possible and Six Sigma can be a good method to do so, if done properly and with care. 

March 01, 2009

Six Sigma

Working on PIUSS PMA I read a lot about 6 sigma. Somebody asked what it was and I was trying to explain. SOmething that comes to my mind that I think it is quite interesting is the idea that a method that started basically as statistical control of processes evolved to became a sort of philosofical way of thinking management. It became something bigger, broader. The concept evolved and could be used to all process in te company.

I have only two strong criticisms to it. First the most common way to address it have little concern for human related issues. It needed a bit more of soft skills in my opinion. Second, I think variation works well for the average and mass production. But human beings are individuals, hard to establish limits, averages for several activities that are basically human. For example, assuming everything is a system, every system has processes that are measurable. But and if this system has someone fantastic, a genius? 

Just thinking.


February 25, 2009

Six Sigma and the enviroment

Working on PIUSS, 6 Sigma in my mind..

A couple of weeks ago I read an interview with an government officer defending that the amount of kids per couple should be controlled. The idea is that the world was not able to sustain more people. It is an understandable idea but not a simple explanation for 3 reasons:

-In most developed countries the population stable or even decreasing (Italy, France, etc)

-In several other big countries (developing and developed) the growth is rather small and mainly caused by immigration (Brazil, US, China...)

-The biggest growth is in very specific and usually poor countries (most of Africa, India, etc)

The consumption level of resources per capta is VERY small on most of the high growing countries and is massive on the rich developed countries (specially the US). That combination of factor is helping balance the situation.

I was discussing this matter with an expert about 1,5 years ago. And he told his major concern was not population growth or even increase in consumption of resources per capta but the amount of waste. He gave me an example that I found rather shocking. He said that the most efficient explosion engines only used about 14-18% of the energy potential contained on the fuel. All the rest was wasted on noise, smoke, lack of appropriate technologies, etc...Basically only about 200ml of each litre of fuel we use is really used to move the cars, all the rest is WASTED. He gave several other examples related tp water and paper. It was shocking.

I took 2 lessons out of the combination of the information's above. 1st. reducing waste, using everything more efficiently, recycling is an easier, quicker and more efficient way of helping save the planet. Imagine if we could reach a 6 Sigma kind of level to the usage of resources, being wasting anything an defect? Would we be saving the world?  Reducing variation and increasing efficiency on the process would certainly be a more noble (and in the long term better financially speaking) reason to use Six Sigma like techniques to improve production an processes...

Second lesson learned. Try not to waste. Water is scarce, energy too. Everything has an environmental cost and someday, be sure of that, that price is going to reflect on the actual financial cost of things. Water will be expansive, paper too. And depending how we handle it now things can be only reasonably expensive, not unaffordable...

February 18, 2009

Common sense strikes back…

Follow-up to Good sense, organizations and people from Francisco's blog

Working on PIUSS PMAI found a phrase rather interesting "Common Sense is the least common of the senses" (better reference it just in case....(Pande, Neuman & Cavanagh ; 2000) ). It relates to my old post saying that most scientific knowledge I saw in my life in economics, finance, engineering, quality, process and so forth are organised and well presented common sense.

6 Sigma is no different. Common sense all the way. Even though I must say that the way it is presented, the toools, the way priorities are defined do stimulate some thinking that we don`t usually do. I realisedsome colleagues are having trouble perceiving the whole logic of thinking on a process and variation related way, and that what 6 Sigma can help with, to show the importance of understanding that logic and presenting a way to relate it to everyday practises and results. So it is a clever way to stimulate and take results out of common sense.

So if I had to say what is the most important aspect of 6S, the one you should really understand it would be: "Pay attention to processes, look at them carefuly and sistematically and take as much variation out of it as possible".

But when the concepts are understoos, it is common sense ain`t it?


January 28, 2009

Miraculous solutions…or not.

PIUSS module is an interesting one. I still miss more specific discussions but it is obviously impossible to do it with 24 people around.

I liked the guest speaker but I have got to make a comment about the first one. He is the owner of a consultancy that helps in the implementation of process improvement solutions. His material is very good (and I`ve see material from other places, but I think his material is better). But he has he same problem most consultants have. Even though he consciously and rationally would not say that his solution is not complete, not perfect and is not able to solve everything (because it is OBVIOUS that there is no complete solution in the world) he still, quite often, criticises other approaches in a way that seems to insinuate his is the complete, the vest one. It is logical that he likes and thinks his approach is the best, but just as any other serious and structured approach it has gaps and flaws. I`ve seen quite a few presentations from consultants. I`ve worked enough time to know how they talk, what is the speech. And there is always this kind of "My solution is the best, and the others are incomplete because they don`t consider that and don`t think about that other thing."  His competitor would say the same about his...

I think six sigma, specially with that Deming approach that actually puts more attention on the system of profound knowledge then in the statistics or DMAIC, DFSS, is a very interesting and clever approach. It is capable of great things (with all the needed support in place) however just like any other method it has its flaws. Them it comes a big question. Is Deming complete? I really don`t think i know enough to answer that question but I will use one of Deming`s principles, the theory of knowledge, to give an idea based on my theoretical thinking. Based on that the answer would be NO, Deming is not complete because nothing is complete, the world changes ideas and science evolve. But from my EXTREMELLY small knowledge I must admit that as time passes I agree more and more with him. Some of the things I did not connect first are making more sense now. But I`m not sure if Deming had this consultant posture they all have and our friend on Monday also had.

Now, just to be and add a bit controversy. This whole idea of "my-model-is-amazing-and-complete-and-much-better-and-wiser-them-the-other-models-and-consultants-around"  reminds me a bit of religion. Don`t they all work a bit like that?

January 20, 2009

Deming, always holistic…

Working on the PIUSS project we decided to divide the questions among us. It is not the best way learning-wise however is the quickest way and for us now, the quicker the better.

Anyway, did a lot of reading on variation and it`s very easy to relate Deming`s understanding of variation with 6 Sigma. However is not so easy to relate it on an isolated way to Psychology. That is funny since Psy is related to pretty much everything. 

So I had a long discussion about it with Cristal and Gilbert on the computer lab. We reached two conclusions, first (and obvious) is that a holistic vision is always needed (and actually Deming says that himself, all parts must be applied together). Psychology must be understood alongside variation, theory of knowledge and appreciation of a system. Secondly is that exactly for being part of all psychology can be related to everything, after all organisations are made of people....But I`d think the best connection between psychology on the SoPK and 6 sigma would be the need of conduct change in which psychology can help but 6 Sigma can also help since it is a structured and tested way. Even the fact that the name "six sigma"is famous can be o f great help to conduct change.

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