A DMAIC Makeover

Abstract:Six Sigma projects usually follow the define, measure, analyze, improve and control (DMAIC) roadmap because it offers a standard process that can be taught to project teams and defines expectations at each step of the project. Potential weaknesses that exist in this roadmap can be addressed with a simple adjustment to DMAIC. The proposed change stresses the need to find the important process measure to drive into a process so it can be moved to the define phase and tracked. Another task is stratification of the data to identify categories of interest within the structure of the baseline data in which the majority of the problems may be found. This gives team members measures they can use to track at a more local level. The method offers a more useful operational definition for a baseline project progress …

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It was good to finally read an article that emphasized the importance of process stability as the first step to improving a process/system. If more people worked on process stability instead of calculating some meaningless capability index, we would be further along on our journey toward continual improvement.
--Richard DeRoeck, 02-25-2009

I appreciate and commend Rip Stauffer's efforts in "A DMAIC Makeover." Making a determination of what to measure and then obtaining baseline measurements in the Define phase is also an excellent way to help prioritize potential projects. If several projects are competing for resources, calculating potential benefits for each project will help with prioritization.

However, I am concerned with a generalization that "processes on the brink of chaos or in the state of chaos will have to be stabilized before any project can start." This would be very effective in an organization that is mature in its use of Six Sigma, with SPC charts existing for most key process measurements. But I fear that in healthcare and other service organizations that are just embarking on Lean / Six Sigma, requirements of statistical control could prevent them from ever getting started on improvement or breakthrough projects. When statistical control or homogeneous data has not been verified, historical data on a key measurement may have to be accepted to size potential benefits. Then, bringing the chosen process into statistical control may be an effective step taken in the Measure or Improve phase. Anything that increases the focus on measurement in the early phases of DMAIC will reap benefits.

--Dr. Daniel Rand, 02-16-2009

This was great! It clarified problems I had seen with several struggling to achieve a successful project. They were not looking at a stable process. I knew the approach was suspect but had not grasped the homogenity issue.
--Charles Fay, 12-22-2008

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