All entries for December 2015
December 30, 2015
According to some people, Six Sigma is a fashion, a trend in large multinational companies to improve their processes, cut their costs and increase their profitability. It is also argued, that the excitement of members about Six Sigma programs is faded away after a while and the motivation of employees can be reduced. A successful implementation of Six Sigma programmes is very expensive and involves a lot of training and mostly large companies are able to invest in it and plan for long-term. Therefore, Six Sigma programmes may fail after a short-term success. Six Sigma is another quality management system like TQM, ISO, EFQM which needs to work with other approaches like Deming's SOPK, PDSA in order to be successful. Six Sigma is a great tool depending on its application and implementation by an organisation, as well as, what are the objectives of an organisation with Six Sigma programmes.
Six Sigma has the potential to contribute to organisational learning, although there are other factors need to work as well in terms of a successful implementation, such as team work, employee engagement/involvement, shared knowledge and ideas, motivation, effective communication and leadership, commitment from all the members of the organisation and so on. The implementation of Six Sigma projects must be aligned with the organisation's strategy, goals, mission and vision. It should rather a long-term investment than a short-term one. The behaviours of Black Belts and Master Black Belts are crucial in the successful implementation of Six Sigma programmes by influencing all the employees, forming the team and leading the change in the organisation. However, organisational learning can be relatively limited depending on the Belt system, leadership, organisational culture and the motivation of the organisational members.
The top management plays a key part in the creation of the right working environment, involving all the members of the organisation and engaging them to be committed to learning. The top management has to deal with the resistance of change by motivating all the employees, promoting effective staff meetings and encouraging organisational learning, respectively, providing training opportunities.
All in all, Six Sigma is quite rigid, and all the critical success factors must be met in order to work as a mechanism for organisational learning by eliminating all the failures and limitations.
December 27, 2015
The elements of Six Sigma and organisational learning can be found in Deming's SOPK that has four parts (appreciation for a system, knowledge about variation, theory of knowledge, psychology), all related to each other.
Six Sigma can contribute to organisational learning as a mechanism if Black Belts and Master Black Belts have clear understanding about the theory of knowledge and psychology of Deming's SOPK approach. Six Sigma has the potential to contribute to organisational learning that can be seen in Dixon's organisational learning cycle (widespread generation of information; integration of new/local information into the organisational context; collectively interpreting the information; authority to take responsible action based on the interpreted meaning). We can see that they are all related to each other.
Six Sigma is a learning process by incorporating the goal's of the company into its system, by sharing new ideas and experiences, by involving statistical knowledge and analysis. Six Sigma is a useful tool to encourage learning so as to achieve competitive advantage. The right training of Black Belts and Master Black Belts is vital in a successful Six Sigma implementation. According to Sony and Naik (2012), Six Sigma can promote organisational learning by boosting all the company members' commitment to learning, shared vision and open-mindedness. Gutierrez et al (2012) state that Six Sigma contains teamwork which is one of its major characteristics. The absorptive capacity of the organisation with teamwork and process management through shared vision, mission, goals and common language between the participants can be resulted in organisational learning. Consequently, the implementation of Six Sigma may provide a mechanism to support organisational learning.
Although, there are some counter-arguments against the potential of Six Sigma to contribute to organisational learning. For example, the 'Belt' system can ignore all the members of the organisation, the 'human' issues can be ignored as well that can obstruct learning. The goal of the managers tend to focus more on gaining profit rather than organisational learning. The cultural change, the lack of manager's ownership, the low motivational level of the members, poor leadership and so on can all hinder the effective implemetation of organisational learning, respectively, organisational learning. What's more, Six Sigma can be a very expensive investment of an organisation. Therefore, it is more popular amongst multinational companies rather than SMEs.
To sum up, the opinions of different authors about Six Sigma and organisational lerning is contradictory, therefore we cannot clearly state that the implementation of Six Sigma either support or obstruct as a mechanism for organisational learning. In order to make sure that it works as a mechanism, all the critical success factors of six sigma must be met.
December 20, 2015
In order to see if Six Sigma support or inhibit as a mechanism for organisational learning, we need to see the failures and limitations of both as well.
Some companies fail to succeed Six Sigma programmes because of its wrong implemetation for instance. Lots of different factors can contribute to the failure of Six Sigma. For example, it can be the working environment, the organisational culture, the competence of the employees, their knowledge and skills, the lack of top management involvement, commitment or attitude, the lack of training, lack or resources, poor prioritization, poor communication, low motivation level, resistance of change, lack of employee engagement, lack of efficient leadership, no accountability, and so on.
The main problems of organisational learning can be the followings: to move from individual learning to organisational learning, defensive reaction amongst employees - resistance of change, poor communication, conflicts between short-term or long-term goals, behaviour of the managers/employees/Black Belt-Master Black Belt experts, changes in the organisational structure, organisational politics, lack of motivation, lack of team spirit and so on.
So how Six Sigma can support as a mechanism for organisational learning despite of both limitations and failures?
December 17, 2015
Six Sigma is a disciplined, statistical, project-oriented approach and improvement methodology to reduce costs, waste and defects in an organisation, respectively, to increase its profitability.
Organisational learning is a process that develops better knowledge and understanding thanks to shared ideas and teamwork.
So the main question is that how six sigma can support organisational learning?
It can be clearly seen that Six Sigma is a learning process thanks to the DMAIC approach which is based on Deming's PDSA.
Although, the bureaucratic system of Black Belts and Master Black Belts could effect organisational learning depending on their behaviour and engagement towards other employees in an organisation. Master Black Belts are on the top of the hierarchy and they train and coach Black Belts and Green Belts. Master Black Belts and Black Belts are responsible for the leadership of Six Sigma programme on both project and business level. Black Belts lead problem-solving projects by developing strategies to reduce costs and defects while increase profitability and competitive advantage. They provide training to Green Belts who can help Black Belts with the data collection and analysis of the project.
The success of Six Sigma towards organisational learning highly depends on its implementation by the organisation. Has the organisation got short-term or long-term goal? Does the organisation care only about its profitability or also the improvement of the organisational learning?
December 06, 2015
On Friday we were talking about a case study of warranty at TRW Automotive. We had to find advantages and disadvantages of the company's DMAIC storyboard. First of all, in the define part we realized that the company gives us a holistic view and we can understand the overall project with visualization, however there was a lack of information and it was hard to see the links between the different parts of the project. We could understand the customer requirements and we saw a clear process flow, however, there was no project contract mentioned at all. In terms of Measure, the data was inconsistent, although the process was detailed and visualized. In the Analysis part, the root cause of the problems was mentioned, but the data wasn't reliable, there was no process capability and it was difficult to understand the voice of the process. In case of Improve, the benefits of brainstorm must be emphasized with cross-sections (different people from different departments), but there was no prioritization. In the control part, we didn't see a clear review of the process and we couldn't tell if the project was successful or not.
Six Sigma Deployment:
1. Keep the pipeline full: communication, motivation, reward system, creating an organisational culture by bringing the process, people and technology together.
2. Choose important rather than pet project: we need to understand the company's goals and objectives. Six sigma needs to be built into the company's strategy.
3. Avoid solo working: Teamwork, better quality
4. Fits projects into everyday business: prioritize, we need to find an area of our passion
5. Timing of training: efficient use of the HR in time
6. Try to stop people jumping to solutions (too soon): we can save lots of costs by suggesting better solutions, but first we need to find the root cause of the problems.
7. Coordinate & Management: measures of performance, key performance indicators - what are the benefits?
8. Keep the momentum going: keep people interested and engaged, build the idea into the mission and vision of the company, people should be valued and recognized and be able to progress in their career.
9. Not be too prescriptive: don't treat DMAIC as a constraint, know what tools to use.
It usually takes 1.5 year to become a black belt expert and get a certificate by fulfilling the requirements of the training course and completing 3 projects. Black belts have wide range of knowledge about six sigma principles and understand all aspects of the DMAIC model. They are able to use specific tools in order to improve the process, solve problems, make good decisions and get effective and sustainable results. Six Sigma is powerful - it can improve the process, it can save lots of money for the company, and it can bring the people together.
It is important to mention that there are stages of six sigma which are inevitable. For example, we always need to select priorities, what our aims are, what we would like to achieve, which problem needs to be sorted out first that has the biggest impact on the company. We need to create a project charter with our purpose, business case, key players, scope, enablers and barriers. We need to form the team. We need to create a SIPOC in order to be able to see the process more clearly. We need to collect as much data as possible so as to be able to learn about the process. We need to review the process, so we can find solutions to different problems. After the data collection, we can use control charts, histogram, or cause and effect diagram to diagnose the problems of the process. We can run experiments to see which solution would be the best option to sort out one specific problem. We can take actions, implement solutions and review the process again.
A successful six sigma project has lots of benefits: achieved goals, reduced costs and waste, improved process, team empowerment, motivation and rewards.
December 03, 2015
Today we learned about the Taguchi Method by experiment (building 8 different types of paper helicopters). In order to improve the process, we must experiment first by testing our theories. We must always be on target with minimum variation. If we start to move away from our target, that could cost a lot of money for the company. The one-sided tolerance level's formula are: L = ky2 and L = k(1/y2). For Taguchi, the off-line quality control is more important which is about the design of products and processes. It is essential to create a feasible design space, optimise it and innovate. There are two main factors that affect the design or the process: the control factors that can be set and controlled, and the noise factors that cannot be controlled. In our helicopter experiment, the control factors were the followings: the length of the wings, the width of the wings, we had an interaction, the length of the body, the width of the body, the width of the head and the paper material. Robustness is crucial in case of the uncontrolled noise factors because we have to make sure that our operation works consistently well with minimum variation. Taguchi method is great in terms of time and cost saving. By getting the result of the noise factors, we can suggest which experiment will have the best result by looking the signal-to-noise ratio of "larger the better". η= -10logMSD (mean square deviation)
By getting the best combination of the factors, we can calculate the prediction of our process.
This robust design focuses on the improvement of products and processes by reducing cost, improving quality and reducing intervals.
Yesterday we learned how to calculate the process capability level. The distance from the lower tolerance level and upper tolerance level is crucial. With the help of the process capability, we can have a deeper insight of the natural spread of the process. We can only improve the process if the tolerance level is shortened between the upper and lower tolerance level.
Our aim is to be on target with minimum variation. A state of statistical process control is not a natural state. We have to make sure about the persistent elimination of special causes.In terms of special causes, immediate action is required. With the help of statistical process control, we can gain knowledge and experience in a coherent manner. SPC needs to become a culture. It is important to understand the voice of the process, when the data indicates change, we need to recalculate control limits.
Change is a very difficult and challenging issue and often causes chaos in a company. Managers have vital roles in the implementation of change. They have to engage with the employees, explain why we need the change, how this change will effect the company and employees positively. Management of change is an emotional process where people can lose their expertise, skills, status, interests, security, territory, but most importantly relationships. Managers need to avoid the resistance of change by the employees and make them understand that in order to improve, we need to change. Although, in terms of resistence, employees could be less committed, conflicts could arise, their working behaviour can be changed and their motivation can be decreased. The management need to support all the employees in the process of change, they need to listen to them in order to deal with all their concerns, they have to share all the relevant information of the change, they need to gain their trust and involve them in the process.
December 01, 2015
In the last two days we have learned how to improve a process. It is very important to understand the requirements of the customers before the production, respectively, the time frame. It is essential that the time is in balanced with the quality. First of all, we need to learn about the process to understand how it works - we can create a SIPOC, flow chart, quantify opportunity and build a team. We need to identify the problems, it can be transportation, inventory, motion, people, waiting, over-production, over-processing or defects. We need to measure our performance regarding to time, waste, cost and SPC. In our aeroplane case, we found that our problems were the followings: lack of training, lack of instruction, miss match, transportation, collection of wrong parts and not using our tools efficiently. After we identified the problem, we made some suggestions, how we can improve the process. In our aeroplane case, we needed to make sure that everyone has got the right training, everybody is aware what he/she is doing, everybody studies the instructions before putting the parts together, we have common engagement and commitment in our team, respectively, right and efficient communication, the materials are organised for the operators, we identified one delivery person who continuously delivered the right parts to the operators and we also suggested to mark the pieces in order to be able to put the right parts to the right places. Overall, we have improved our process, we reduced our time frame, we became faster, we learned about the instructions, we improved our sequence by following the same steps consistently and in time, we improved our quality level and we reduced our defects. And of course, we have been rewarded for our performance. Thank you very much Graham for the cakes! ;-)
Now, the next stage is to produce zero defects in even less time. Anyone has got an idea how to do that? :)