Splitting the DMAIC: Unleashing the Power of Continuous Improvement

Tom Quick, ASQ Quality Press, 2019, 112 pp., $31.50 member, $45 list (book).

This book offers a unique insight into why some organizations successfully implement continuous improvement methods while others fail. It also introduces the concept of “matching the right people with the right training to solve the right problems.”

The author proposes that business objectives should drive continuous improvement projects involving a large pool of capable individuals trained to use the tools necessary for project success rather than initiating projects that are selected haphazardly and managed by incapable individuals just because they earned one or more lean Six Sigma Belts.

After a brief introduction on splitting the DMAIC (define, measure, analyze, improve and control) and a history of continuous improvement, four main objectives common in any DMAIC journey are detailed:

  1. Reduce process characteristic variability, leading to improved process capability.
  2. Reduce machine failure by using total productive manufacturing with the goal of maximizing process throughput.
  3. Reduce process waste by addressing only the types of waste identified and targeted by management.
  4. Reduce the frequency of a defect.

These chapters include an overview and purpose of the steps, details of the steps within the path and a checklist that can be used along the path.

The last chapter expands on how tools should be used in the DMAIC path to reach a desired outcome. Kata is used to provide a list of quality katas—actions rather than tools—for each path to achieve a specific goal within the DMAIC journey.

A roadmap for successful implementation is provided: Identify the paths that matter to your organization, determine the katas on the paths, assess current skills to deliver katas, identify training on the critical paths and katas, create a list of things that must be improved, and charter improvement efforts on the chosen opportunities and use the right path.

This is a valuable resource for organization management seeking the most from its LSS investment, and individuals who are involved in process improvement initiatives.

Herzl Marouni, Houston

Root Cause Analysis: Simplified Tools and Techniques

Bjorn Andersen and Tom Fagerhaug, ASQ Quality Press, 2006, 240 pp., $51.80 member, $74 list (book).

My greatest frustration as a quality management system examiner is the lack of attention given to identifying the root cause of a problem and a corrective action process that doesn’t address and fix the root cause. Having said that, this book is needed in most organizations, many of which are registered to International Organization for Standardization standards.

In this second edition, the authors have done an outstanding job of presenting and explaining in layman’s terms the tools and techniques that can be applied to identify, analyze and eliminate the root cause of a problem. This is not rocket science or highly touted Six Sigma analysis. It’s just plain, simple techniques anyone can use—and it works.

The book addresses the following topics:

  • Problem understanding.
  • Problem cause brainstorming.
  • Problem cause data collection.
  • Root cause identification.
  • Root cause elimination.
  • Solution implementation.

Each topic follows a structured and practical approach: a general description of the tool, its purpose, typical applications, the procedure for using it, an example of its use and a checklist to make sure it is properly applied.

An enhancement over the first edition is a CD-ROM with sample forms and templates using Microsoft Word and Excel, which are general and simple to use.

Confused about which tool or technique to use? Don’t fret—there is an excellent tool section chapter that has flowcharts to guide you to select the appropriate tool in a given situation. There also are example cases using the tools and techniques described.

The book can be used by technical and nontechnical people, from any industry, service organization or public sector agency.

Wayne Sander, Dousman, WI

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