All entries for November 2010

November 30, 2010

Six sigma or management's fault?

Although any system can have areas to be improved, six sigma seems to have lots of fans who always blame the surrounding environment for any failure. Those fans say that any failure or shortage in achieving results when applying six sigma is due to many factors some of them are listed below:

1- Leadership: the leadership is responsible for monitoring and creating the enviroment that ensures a successful implementation of six sigma. With a "weak" leadership the chance that the development process will fail is high.

2- The lack of support among the different departments in an organisation (finance, production, and others) can lead to failure of the project. 

3- Low level of communication between the management and the low level of six sigma employees. Poor communication can lead to delays and misunderstanding which in turn leads to failure.

4- Bad project selection: sometimes the selected project is not tied enough to the organisation's goals and objectives. This will lead to a difficulty in understanding the way that this project should be approached. 

Despite all the above seems reasonable, I think six sigma in modern terminology is wider than a tool that can be used. It includes guidance for choosing the project and anticipating the problems within teams. It also suggests solutions to try to prevent these issues. the above issues seem to be a problem in the application not in the six sigma itself. However, six sigma tools might need to be developed more to maintain a higher level of success.




November 23, 2010

Importance of Cp

It was nice today to see practically how the sigma level might not meet the customer requirements even if it is high. Having two different results for two sets of data with the same sigma level was benificial. This brought the importance of Cp and Cpk up to the surface.

A data that presents a relatively high sigma level close to 2.1 can assume a very good functioning of the business. However, knowing that the Cp for the same data is 0.25 that the capability of the business is not good because it does not meet the customer requirements/ the tolerance limits. The variation of the data might not be that big but it is just in the wrong place. 

Practicing theories helps to understand them and make their application make sense.




November 18, 2010

Goals and Six Sigma

Some researchers debate that usually setting targets for product development leads to achieving these goals without any stimulation for people's thinking specifically who are working on these products. They argue also that Six sigma can alter the way that employees see the potential of their organisation. Setting such a high target (3.4 DPMO) can stimulate employees thinking and alter the way they look to the process, the product, and the organisation in general. It will change their perception to how much change is possible.

It is interesting to study whether applying six sigma can influence an organisation's goals, or studying and planning goals can influence applying six sigma.


November 17, 2010

Measurement

Being a process by itself, measurement has a special importance not only in six sigma but where ever it is used. It is really interesting how deep we can go in details regarding measurements. For example, for measuring the temperature of a device things such as: brand of thermometer used, how old the thermometer is, the person who measures, the ambient temperature, the method in which the temperature was taken, and many others must be taken into consideration. Consider that for many samples taken in different times.

Because of its big affect on decision making, the management must be sure that the measurement is done under its supervision. Or at least it is presented by a trusted person. However, that raises a fair question, can two experienced people from the management team get two different measurements? Yes guaranteed. Because in most causes measurement depends on human senses in deciding many things.

Measurement is a process that needs a process to develop. Even using automatic measurements and computers creates some problems sometimes. for example, over controlling the process usually leads to more variation than normal.


November 15, 2010

Stratification

Far from psychology and people, I find Scatter Diagrams very interesting. The ability to search the data in more and more details is really useful. 

I always tended to think that there is a problem and there a cause for this problem. It was interesting to have 3levels: issue caused by a problem that in turn cause by a cause. Therefore, finding the problem does not always mean that you have found the cause.

Sometimes many fake causes might appear as they are responsible for the problem. Through Scatter diagrams the relationship between factors and causes can be deeply analysed. Action is always against the factors that has a positive relationship with the problem. Testing all the factors against each other is refered to as stratisification. Data is stratisfied by using scatter diagrams to test the relationship between each two of them. 


November 12, 2010

Culture is Important

Initiating change or improvement, be it using Six sigma, EFQm, or any other approach usually faces resistance. Changing somebody's habit might be one of the most difficult things to be done. It was really interesting today, during the presentations session, to have this discussion when Graeme metioned how tough it might be to tell somebody that their performance is bad.

For any approach to an organisation, I think, a culture change is very necessary. It might have to be done as a first step in the development process. This culture is the fertilizer in the soil that the change seed will be planted in. Without such culture, any approach will be very expensive and hard to implement  if not impossible in some cases.



November 11, 2010

Statistical and Psychological EFQM

Through the statistical focus of Six Sigma and Psychology of Deming's Profound Knowledge comes EFQM to gather both of them. It gives the wide frame work that any concept that can be applied to meet all the measurements of EFQM.

Through people and society results, can be achieved when you take Dr. Deming's Psychology into consideration. moreover, customer and process results can be done statistically using Six sigma.

EFQM so far covers the majority of the 'necessary' elements for developing an organisation towards excellence. 


Continuous Six Sigma

According to the Level I have learned in Six Sigma so far, I would imagine six sigma practices like a hurricane shape. It starts with principles practice and expand practicing the same principles with time; particularly, the "Do Plan Study Act" process. It starts with studying the process and defines the variation and improves a little bit. Then in an improved stage, you do more of the process study and then more of the improvement and so on.


November 10, 2010

Education and Attitude

I am imagining all students finishing their master degree in business excellence and starting their work as employees and  managers in different organisations and companies.

After a year of being in that job, they will be experienced and professional regarding the tasks they are doing. One day the top management comes and say that we are going to change into a learning organisation and lots of things are going to change. 

How would a graduate from an Excellence master feel? All of us might think we are going to bring about the change in the organisation. 

Will education change how humans really feel about situations? it might deserve a moment of thinking!


Expanding Control Limits

Going through the idea of resetting the control limits to include some of the special causes is an interesting one. However, practically, how can that be done? Is it by just ignoring the special causes that appear in the chart? Or is it by changing the subgroups (the data collected) to include the special causes?

I think whenever a mangers faces special causes and try to collect data again it will result a new control charts that will cause the quality to fall. By doing this the limits will expand and reducing quality fall.


November 09, 2010

Natural Fluctuation

Although it is mentioned in six sigma module, it is interesting from an excellence point of view to know how appreciation for employees work can be dangerous sometimes.

Sometimes appraisal for employees when they function within the natural limits, even if it shows it is high, shows shortness in the management knowledge and experience in the organisation. Similarly to any production process, performance of employees cannot be looked at in the short terms. Doing so, the management system will be creating confusion and frustration among the workforce. Confusion is because of the fact that while a reasonable amount of  fluctuation in performance is natural, it is judged as it is caused by the employees.



When Do We Collect Data?

One of the basic steps to create charts is to collect data from the process through taking samples (voice of the process). These data will be presented in two charts; one represents the average and the other represents the range. Next to that calculations are done to define the control limits so we can judge the process. 

Sometimes collecting the data in two different days might result two different results. That brings a question to mind: How long are these charts valid for? Is it up to the manager to decide? or they are only done when a fault is suspected? 


November 08, 2010

Interrelated Models

It is interesting how all dimensions of excellence in business are interrelated. All excellence models aim at improvement and continuous learning. 

Six Sigma comes to provide the same essence and to serve the same aim. Its process includes a continuous learning while improving a process. On the other hand, applying Deming’s Plan-do-check-act cycle, a part of continuous learning is actually undertaken even though it is aimed at a particular process or project within an organisation. 

I think that it is important for better understanding to search for which of the models contains the other. Moreover, it is useful to identify what is a tool and what is a concept, Learning organisation and Six Sigma for example.


November 05, 2010

What Comes First?

It was interesting today issuing the question: Will leadership's commitment to continuous improvement bring change to the organisation's culture or the change in the organisational culture will bring about continuous improvement?

Actually it is a bit tricky. Commitment to improvement will for sure lead to change in the culture at least in what is related to CI aspects. But how can that improvement happen without a culture that supports it? Can any leader start an improvement process without having a culture that encourages this improvement?

I think how to approach idea might be a key to know how to be affective in bringing about change in different environments.


November 04, 2010

Building Trust

Losing trust and belief in leadership is one of the causes of change resistance. However, it is different from not having the trust in the results and aim of the change process.

It is possible to teach people about how feasible the change process is and its positive impact on the organisation and the employees themselves. On the other hand, if people lost their trust in their leadership it would be very difficult to get it back. It has to do with human feelings and expectation rather than logical understanding.

It is crucial to build the leadership-staff trust before starting any change process.




November 03, 2010

Continuous Improvement

Engaging staff in building the organisation’s strategy is one of the key issues to sustain improvement towards being a learning organisation.

Creating a culture of innovation through getting feedback from workers and sharing ideas is very important. However, this cannot be applied without arranging the ideas and categorise them. For example, some ideas can be applied directly and some need to be developed by specialists to make it applicable.

Having an information gathering system is a key issue in building a learning organisation.


November 01, 2010

Keeping momentum

Losing employees’ momentum is one of the difficulties that face managers in any organisation going through the change process. This might be clear in the early stages of the process where there are learning and changing in the work habits without getting tangible results.

Themanagers’ responsibilityat this stage is to give the support for the staff on a regular basis. Otherwise, the people who are losing enthusiasm can cause problems for the change process.


November 2010

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