January 21, 2013

Some recommendations for implementing LSS

Some recommendations could be put forth for an effective implementation of Lean Six Sigma:

  • There are profound differences between the two; nonetheless, taking these differences into account, a coherent and simultaneous approach needs to be adopted, without one dominating the other.
  • Top Management should be fully committed and should be linked with the organisation’s strategy.
  • Overall improvement process should be holistic, combining the most powerful tools of both: DMAIC and statistical tools from Six Sigma, and VSM and work flow from Lean.
  • The overall focus and goal should be to satisfy customers and other relevant stakeholders. Voice of customer should be taken into account.
  • Project selection should be carefully done.
  • Project based training and teamwork is necessary.
  • A culture incorporating continuous improvement should be adopted.

Lean Six Sigma needs more Literature

Working on PIUSS pma made me realise that there is a need for more literature and research pertaining to Lean Six Sigma as the current literature is limited and unsatisfactory. Although many researchers believe it is possible to integrate lean and Six Sigma without contradicting their core principles, there is no consensus on how the integration should be done and there is no widely accepted integrated methodology. Some detractors have also called the attempts to combine both as philosophical and near-religious arguments leading to incompatible and conflict due to one being dominant and other being subordinate to the former

However, it must also be noted that not all organisations reveal the success or failure stories of improvement initiatives. Perhaps, more real world case would emerge and theoretical aspects would be developed as Lean Six Sigma continues to evolve and practised more widely.

Is Toyota really Lean?

We always talk about going ‘the Toyota way’. Toyota has managed to influence not the automotive industry, but the whole manufacturing industry on a whole. Lean manufacturing is now that latest process improvement methodology that is gaining much attention. Toyota Production system changed the Western method of making as many products as possible and then selling to customers. Instead what Toyota did was to manufacture only once a customer order had been received. TPS redefined Push vs. Pull.

However, after the years of continuous improvement, Toyota succumbed to a design fault recently. Around 4 million cars were recalled due to floor mat sticking under the accelerator. Did lean fail?

Well probably not. Nonetheless, this incident did give an opportunity to the critics. We must though, recognise that continuous improvement is a life-life process. The recall of vehicles wasn’t a fault in lean or six sigma methodology. It was a lapse in concentration and adherence to the principles that made Toyota what it is today. We should remember no system is right or wrong. It is how we use it. Toyota still remains the prime example for all the aspiring manufactures across the globe.

January 16, 2013

A deeper look into R&M

Business competition has grown ever so fierce now. It is absolutely imperative to continually seek customer requirements and cater the same via quality and process oriented approach whilst improving the bottom line for businesses. Having a high top line coupled with a high bottom line isn’t advantageous anymore. Inventories need to be reduced and scheduled targets need to be met in a rapid and efficient manner.

Most manufacturing companies, spend a considerably large amount of financial sum in launching products. Hence it is important to ensure R&M very early in the process cycle to ensure cost reduction and improve quality. R&M also increase confidence in predicting the performance of the product once it flows off the line.

As a group, we realised R&M provided essential tools and key concepts behind DFSS. It explains the relationship between DMAIC and DCOV. It ensures that fire prevention is always better than fire fighting.

Why did HMV fail?

Yesterday's lecture rightly mentioned the recent closure of HMV, a once giant entertainment retailer, clearly proving how imperative it is to understand Voice of Customers in the current competitive era. HMV clearly lagged behind in the online aspect of music and movies industry. What sold in 90s, is almost non-existent today. Well not really, but a mere 30% of total music and movies bought by customers are from retailers. Rest? Online.

HMV failed because it lagged behind. It did not understand VOC. It failed because others innovated. It failed because it could not anticipate the rise and power of World Wide Web.

Consumers prefer convenience, choice, value for money, and this is where internet edged out HMV. It did try to embrace it eventually, but it was all too late. The early adopters were already on a rise and huge in number. The closure of HMV isn’t just its own closure but rather a symbolic of emerging trend in the Music industry. Above all, it signifies the value and the necessity of catering to customers and implementing methodologies such as Quality Function Deployment to reach out to the customers and all other stakeholders.

R&M and DFSS – Same Boat

After much deliberation and heated arguments, we managed to conclude, and hopefully rightly so, that R&M and DFSS are two aspects of the same boat.


1) Address Voice of customer

2) Focus on long lasting results

3) Use tools within the framework

4) An ideology/methodology to satisfy customers via increasing quality

5) Use checklist and scorecards

6) Have a comprehensive Risk Management Plan

Goal of R&M is to ensure machinery/tools meets or exceeds customer requirements. DFSS, is the approach that controls the process for satisfying the customer’s expectations early on in the product development cycle. R&M also comes in the initial phase but tends to be little fuzzy. This is where DFSS manages to give direction, focus and purpose. Via the use of statistical tools to gain VOC, increase process control and standard, and application through original, adaptive, variant or redesign, DFSS is and should be at the very heart of the R&M case.

Working on R&M and DFSS

Working on integrating DFSS and R&M case did seem a daunting task at first, but eventually our group managed to come up with something reasonable. The absolute lack of literature and online references pertaining to R&M case was probably THE reason why it turned out to be so complex to comprehend. This also exposed this generation’s degree of dependence to ‘Google’ things.

As it turned out to be, eventually we did manage to find some commonalities, which occurred to us only after much deliberation. In fact, the strong integration of R&M and DFSS and most features already embedded into each other probably had made the whole task more complicated. Once we stopped finding the differences and looked for the cohesive factor, it was only then we managed to bring something substantial to the table. Notwithstanding, things could have been even better had we started by Monday evening.

Still fighting to overcome the knack of doing things at the last moment!

Understanding R&M

Reliability may be defined as quality over the period of time. Consumers do not expect quality to deteriorate over the passage of time. Quality should stay consistent and should not erode. Maintainability on the other hand, should not be a costly endeavour for the consumer as well.

To assure the former, R&M case aims to determine the customer requirements, define targets based on these requirements and also identify the risks associated with the desired implementation.

R&M has moved from being a prescriptive approach to a much more cooperative approach. What is a prescriptive approach? It is like when a person is sick, he goes to a doctor and is given a prescription to ail the illness. Point is, that person already HAS the disease. Couldn’t it be prevented earlier? Vaccinations please?

What R&M case does is to clearly define the needs and requirements of the purchaser in the very initial stage. British Ministry of Defence has gathered much attention and praise by using R&M case in the right spirit to ensure quality and customer requirements are both met.

Can DPMO be exploited?

D = defects

PMO = per million opportunities

Companies aim to strike six sigma in an ideal world. However, due to certain reasons, noise, inefficient resources or incapable system, it may not that be easy of a feat to achieve.

Do you think Six Sigma can be a marketing gimmick used by some companies? Can DPMO be exploited or exaggerated?

Defects = numerator.

PMO = denominator

Holding the numerator constant, a firm may multiply or increase denominator to achieve a smaller value. This mean holding defect constant, opportunities could be increased to reach a small DPMO value.

e.g. (1/10) is > (1/10)square is > (1/100)tripled.

Or Probability of getting a head on a coin toss is 0.5 or ½

Tossing the coin multiple times mean ½ X ½ X ½ ……..leading to a small value

October 18, 2012

Can Nokia regain Market share to stay Alive?

Nothing lasts forever. Technology certainly does not. Neither did Nokia. In fact, the epic downfall of the ‘King’ of mobile handsets now serves as a what-not-to-do-in-a-business story for all the young and aspiring leaders of today.


Nokia failed on many fronts.

  • It failed to innovate on continual basis
  • Was taken aback by the huge influx of China manufactured low cost handsets which eventually replaced Nokia’s middle and low class handsets
  • Couldn’t see the Iphone ‘revolution’


  • Ignored the importance of getting tagged with major carriers on contract ( that what made the other smartphones cut down on prices in a big way) in U.S and the European market
  • Emphasized upon a niche and tried to maintain loyal customers but in vain
  • Relied on an old and tested OS for too long

To put it simply, Nokia couldn’t foresee the increasingly advanced technology, the aggressive competition, and impressive innovations coming onto it from all directions.

Nokia has now collaborated with Microsoft to enter into the Smartphone race. Lumia, so far, has NOT caught up big time with the consumers, reason being LOST BRAND EQUITY.

Does it call for radical changes within the organisation? How about some innovation, and an internal drive to implement EFQM model? How about forgetting to regain market share and having a different purpose altogether?

Recently, NOKIA CEO has announced further job cuts in 2013. That is not really helping the employees is it?

job cuts

October 2023

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