The benefits of continual improvement extend beyond the product or process itself when accomplished through a systematic, data-driven approach. You’ll also find insights into your understanding of how your processes work.
This type of continual improvement is really continual learning, which is synergistic and leads not only to improved existing processes but also to innovation. Let’s take a closer look into how one of the core methodologies of Six Sigma, DMAIC, fosters both continual improvement and continual learning.
DMAIC: The Roadmap to Continual Improvement
Six Sigma and Lean Six Sigma are two proven and powerful methodologies for achieving continual improvement. The commonality lies in the pursuit of continually improving business processes to meet business objectives. Continual improvement allows you to regularly improve the quality of the products or services you provide to customers. This can be done through incremental improvements or a more significant spurt of an improvement. As you improve your products or services, you raise customer satisfaction and reduce waste or defects to lower costs as well.
DMAIC reminds us that need to support our proposed improvement strategies by remaining open to new learning via measurement and observation, analysis and arriving at conclusions that we can support with data. The principles of “Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, Control” lie in the solution of the equation Y = f(x1, x2, x3, ______ xi), in other words cause(s) and effect(s). The pursuit of the solution to that formula begets profound understanding of what drives our processes — i.e., learning. That accelerating learning process is the real engine behind the benefits for Six Sigma and Lean Six Sigma.
The DMAIC roadmap consists of five components:
Define: the opportunity for the customer and the organization
Measure: to understand process and performance through the data and established baselines
Analyze: to determine the causes of defects
Improve: the process through the elimination of defects
Control: the process’ future performance
Cultivating Continual Learning for Success
The flexibility of DMAIC allows for variation in implementation as you enhance your understanding of your processes and their performance. Keep in mind you may also vary the implementation and the tools you use based on the nature of the project at hand. Regardless, with a deep understanding of your process, its performance, and areas for improvement, you’ll foster continual learning in your environment and into the culture of your organization. Doing so leads to a ripple effect where the acquisition of new skills and knowledge is woven into the fiber of an organization. That’s something sure to benefit any organization, no matter the industry or process!
Are you ready to be a leader for continual improvement and learning? Discover how to drive improvement in any organization with NWCPE’s Lean Six Sigma Continuous Improvement Bootcamp, taking place April 23rd – 27th, 2018 in Portland, Oregon.