Tag Archives: Six sigma

Full and Fractional Factorial Test Design

An Essential Primer on Full and Fractional Factorial Test Design

Since full factorial gathers additional data, it reveals all possible interactions, but as seen by the numbers above, there is a trade-off. More data equals more information but more data also equals a longer test duration. The minimum data requirements for full factorial are very high since you are showing every experiment.

Even if you are using full factorial to get the same amount of information as a fractional factorial test, it will take more time since you need more data to see statistically relevant differences between the many experiments. You might be wondering how fractional factorial can be accurate if interactions are possible?

Random interactions of high relevance are very rare, especially when looking for interactions of more than 2 factors. You really need to design tests where you look for meaningful interactions that are based on true business requirements rather than hoping for a random and low influence interaction between a red button, a hero shot and a headline.

I am a fan of design of experiments as long time readers know (see posts on design of experiments).

Some good resources for more on the topics discussed above: What Can You Find Out From 8 and 16 Experimental Runs? by George Box – Statistics for ExperimentersDesign of Experiments in Advertising.

Related: Google Website Optimizerfactorial experiment articlesUsing Design of ExperimentsMarketers Are Embracing Statistical Design of Experiments

Department of Defense Lean Six Sigma

Gordon England, the Deputy Secretary of Defense, signed a directive establishing policy and assigning responsibilities to institutionalize the effort throughout DoD. See a webcast of his speech [the broken link was removed] on lean six sigma to a DoD conference on continuous process improvement.

Leading Business Transformation the “Lean” Way [the broken link was removed]

Since it began employing LSS, the Department of the Navy (DON) has completed 1,700 Black Belt/Green Belt projects and over 2,000 Kaizen events (i.e., action-oriented events designed to improve existing processes). Initial projects were designed to build confidence and gain momentum for success in high-impact core business value streams. The DON’s total of 3,399 trained LSS Green Belts exceeds the Secretary’s goal of 2,000 by the end of 2006, and of the 935 trained LSS Black Belts in the DON, 93 have attained American Society for Quality (ASQ) Black Belt certification.

Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) joined with Raytheon to complete an LSS project, which ultimately saved $133.5M across the 2006 FYDP and $421M over the life of the Joint Standoff Weapon (JSOW) Block II program. The integrated product team developed a three-tier approach to reducing weapon unit cost over a two-year period. Success of the JSOW program has led to development of a follow-on Block III weapon system.

The Marine Corps is applying LSS concepts, analytic techniques, and tools to improve the process for identifying, evaluating and acquiring critically needed warfighting equipment. Initial analysis focused on the evaluation stage, where improvements reduced the time required for this step by 35% – from 131 days to 85 days – and identified savings valued at $135K per year.

The first LSS initiative for Army aviation scheduled maintenance was deemed a success and signals a more efficient future for maintaining the Fort Rucker helicopter fleet. More than 32 days of scheduled maintenance were saved during the first LSS effort for Aviation Unit Maintenance involving UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter scheduled maintenance. The first helicopter inducted into the newly developed process was returned to flying status in just 18 days, which included a four-day break for the Fourth of July weekend. That is a 67% improvement in phase flow efficiency from the previous average time of more than 50 days of phase cycle maintenance for the UH-60.

See: online six sigma resources and lean manufacturing resources from the Curious Cat management improvement web site.

Related: Government Lean Six SigmaPublic Sector Continuous Improvement Site – Transformation Through Lean Six Sigma [the broken link was removed] – Army Business Transformation [the broken link was removed] – History Of Quality Management OnlineMore Lean GovernmentArmy Lean Six Sigma
Doing More With Less in the Public Sector: A Progress Report from Madison, Wisconsin by William G. Hunter, Jan O’Neill, and Carol Wallen, June 1986.

Management Improvement Carnival #33

Shaun Sayers is hosting Management Improvement Carnival #33 on the Capable blog, some of the highlights include

Lean Six Sigma Case Studies

ValuMetrix Services provides some really nice lean six sigma case studies. Simple short but still with enough detail to actually provide some sense of what is going on.

While on the topic of online case studies let me plug the Curious Cat management improvement library. I think it is one of the more valuable resources for management improvement offered on the Curious Cat sites. Library shelves: health care articles, lean manufacturing articles, six sigma articles, newly added articles

via: Daily Kaizen

Related: Curious Cat Management SearchManagement Consulting, what does the web site show?Lean Management Case Study

Six Sigma Outdated? No.

Here is another of those articles that promotes the idea that oversimplifies six sigma and then declares that mindset is outdated because innovation is needed nowadays – Six Sigma: So Yesterday? [the link Business Week broke was removed].

The discipline was developed as a systematic way to improve quality, but the reason it caught fire was its effectiveness in cutting costs and improving profitability. That makes it a powerful tool—if those are a company’s goals. But as innovation becomes the cause du jour, companies are increasingly confronting the side effects of a Six Sigma culture.

Previously I have addressed this mindset in New Rules for Management? No!, Has Six Sigma been a failure?, Managing Innovation and Fast Company Interview: Jeff Immelt:

I don’t see any reason why managers in the past shouldn’t have had the qualities he seems to be saying are needed now. And I don’t see any reason why the qualities needed now were not needed in the past. This sure seems like a bunch of words saying nothing to me: perhaps I just don’t see the wonderful cloths the emperor has on.

My guess would be that what leads to this quote is not a lack of understanding that managers need the same qualities today they needed 10 years ago but the compulsion to feed the media frenzy for some incredible new insight. It just isn’t sexy to say “we need the same leadership qualities we needed in the past.” Deming stressed the importance of these “new” qualities he states more than 50 years ago

Yes execution of six sigma often focused too much on cost reduction, optimizing short term projects (which resulted in sub-optimizing the entire system), ranking and rating employees… But innovation is not harmed by a good six sigma program – in fact a good six sigma effort a decade ago understood the importance of innovation perfectly well.

Six Sigma at Cummins

Six Sigma winning supply-chain converts [the broken link was removed]

“More and more of our decisions are made after data is collected and analysis done. It’s less of a gut feel and more data-based.”
On any given day, Cummins has 2,500 active Six Sigma projects involving 10,000 of its 34,000 employees, Strodtbeck said.

Next year, senior managers at Cummins will be required to have Six Sigma certification before they can switch jobs or be promoted. “Six Sigma is headed toward being a condition of employment,” Strodtbeck said.

“In 10 years, will we be calling it Six Sigma? I don’t think so,” said Roger Schmenner, associate dean for Indianapolis programs with the Kelley School of Business. “We’ll have something else with a new name. Will it use the same statistical techniques? Absolutely, because some of these things are immutable.”

Six sigma has persisted for well beyond a 10 years already. I must admit I think the name “six sigma” is not the best but it seems to be holding its own. Six sigma is obviously achieving results many companies find worthwhile as they continue to grow their efforts year after year. While I would agree I think it is likely six sigma efforts will transform and be renamed within the next ten years, in many organizations, the momentum seems to be strong still – which is very rare for a management approach. I agree that is due to the benefits of applying statistical tools, education and focus on specific project based success.

Related: six sigma portalSix Sigma ResultsCan six sigma fix bad management?Seduce Them With Six Sigma Success6 Sigma Conference 1999

Six Sigma City Government

A recent report from the Brookings Institution, Reconnecting Massachusetts Gateway Cities [the broken link was removed], has some good words on the efforts of Fort Wayne, Indiana:

In a short time, the city reduced water main replacement costs by 18 percent, cut pothole response time by 86 percent, and slashed the waiting time for building permits from 51 days to 12 days. And because the Six Sigma process permeates all functions of the city’s government, these productivity enhancements have piled up, generating more than $10 million in cost savings over the last five years.

In this time, Fort Wayne’s first-in-the nation municipal foray into Six Sigma practices has proven that statistical analyses and stringent quality control standards do not lose their power outside the boardroom. Such data-centric attention to detail, in fact, is making all the difference.

Related: Doing More With Less in the Public Sector: A Progress Report from Madison, WisconsinPublic Sector ManagementLean Government – Quality Best Practices in Government [the link that ASQ broke was removed] – Six sigma management resources

Lean Six Sigma Efforts

Lean/Six Sigma: The quest for efficiency in manufacturing [the broken link was removed]:

After years of working with lean and Six Sigma principles, many companies realize that, to continue improving, they need to get suppliers and even customers involved — such as happened with Toyota.

Good idea, but there is no good reason a six sigma effort didn’t do that from the start.

Rather than laying off factory staff as processes have become more efficient, the firm has expanded its product line to include doors. In fact, companies that have adopted the lean approach often find that their market share increases because quality and lead-time improvements give them powerful competitive advantages.

Successful lean efforts reduce waste, improve value creation, improve productivity, expand sales and expand jobs.
Continue reading

3M CEO on Six Sigma

3M in building spree to end capacity constraints

3M should complete the first of an 18-factory build-out in the third quarter, said its chief executive late Tuesday, as it makes up for years of underinvestment on the factory floor – even in its well-known household products. “Our major challenge will be getting all these plants launched,” said 3M CEO George Buckley at a Lehman Brothers conference. Buckley, who joined the St. Paul, Minn. company just over a year ago, has embarked on a global physical expansion program… Buckley said he realized the company was facing manufacturing constraints in several of its product lines.

In the past, a 3M culture that viewed new investment with circumspection and an over-reliance on the Six Sigma management technique made it shy of building some needed capacity, Buckley said. “We got ourselves into a position in which we thought Six Sigma would come to our rescue. We all known that in reality it’s something that runs out of steam,” he said.

Well if you “know” that you are not properly executing a six sigma management system. Previous posts on this topic: Management Advice FailuresChange is not ImprovementLeaving Quality Behind?Going lean Brings Long-term Payoffs. Often six sigma programs amount to cost cutting programs (which can easily run out of steam); but that is so far from effective six sigma management. It isn’t fair to equate a programing calling itself “six sigma” but not using six sigma methods with the actual practice of six sigma management.

Still the CEO still seems to believe in lean six sigma [the broken link was removed]:

“We will continue to drive our growth agenda, which will be funded via aggressive productivity improvement efforts, such as global strategic sourcing and lean six sigma.”

Continue reading

Investing in Six Sigma

Bank of America: Investing in Six Sigma [the broken link was removed] by Thomas Hoffman:

To help the bank’s IT organization align more strategically with its businesses, Desoer has challenged her IT staff to learn more about the bank’s external customers and their needs. “The voice of the customer is what you start with when you embark on a Six Sigma piece of work,” she says.

I think in reality there are several things needed at the starting block but voice of the customer is one, and one that is given too little attention far to often.

Six Sigma … at a Bank? by Milton Jones Jr.:
Continue reading