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January 23, 2008
In our first class of the 6Sigma module, we talked about variation, which is present everywhere. We can define variation as the extent or degree to which something changes, that may or not be controllable or predictable.
I would say that if variation would not exist, life would be so boring. Just imagine, in our example of getting to work in the morning, if there was no variation: The way would be the same everyday, nothing new to see, nothing exciting, in a word: monotonous.
That’s ok for life, but in business?
Business has nothing to do with adrenaline or enjoying changes, because everything have consequences on costs, instead we have to know the natural variation of a process and strive for keeping it under control, or with low variation. As Deming says, "If I had to reduce my message for management to just a few words, I'd say it all had to do with reducing variation."
The key task for us is to make people in the organisation understand that it is normal that a process varies but in some extent and also that there are natural and special causes for variation. The job for engineers is to control the processes and to identify the causes that are generating such behaviour, but without blaming someone. We have to focus on the process not on the people.