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Open Access

Catching Fire

by Liu, Shu

Teams can use the seven creativity strategies and their related tools to develop creativity to solve quality improvement problems....


Open Access

A Place to Call Home

by Leonard, Denis; Zajicek, Gary

Builder leverages quality toolbox, culture to construct house for "Extreme Makeover" TV show....


Safety in the Skies

by Odigie, Michael; Martin, Royce A.; Courbat, Michael; Sinn, John W.

Embracing the notion of continuous improvement, the aviation industry is endeavoring to redefine and fine-tune the way safety is managed....


3.4 per Million: The Best of Both Methods

by Breyfogle, Forrest W.

Many organizations have deployed both business process management and lean Six Sigma. The similarities and differences between these two methods could be illustrated using a Venn diagram, shown in Figure 1....


Show of Hands

by Liu, Shu

“How many think this process is capable of meeting the specification?” Students sitting in a basic quality class in Asia were asked this question while they looked at a long-term normal process variation curve well within the specification range....


Reinventing Excellence

by Buckman, Jim; Buckman, Mary Beth

How Corning used quality to maintain its legacy of innovation for 160 years....


Open Access

Back to Basics: Light Bulb Moment

by Force, Scott

NEWLY CERTIFIED Six Sigma Black Belts often struggle with understanding how the various quality tools work together. It took me a few projects before I began to see linkage. As I teach and mentor new Belts, I use an analogy that hits close to home....


Open Access

Quality in the First Person: It's a Process

by Jennings, John

I have been a Type 2 diabetic for 40 years—about as long as I’ve been in the quality field. Currently, there is no cure for diabetes. But it can be managed....


Open Access

Volviendo A Los Fundamentos: Momento de Iluminación, Inspiración Súbita y Repentina Comprensión

by Force, Scott

Newly certified Six Sigma Black Belts often struggle with understanding how the various quality tools work together. It took me a few projects before I began to see linkage. As I teach and mentor new Belts, I use an analogy that hits close to home...


Open Access

Paving the Way

by Anderson-Cook, Christine M.; Borror, Connie M.

Data and information are at the heart of good investigations and decision making, but are all kinds of data the same? What are the major categories and types of questions to ask to collect and analyze data?...


Open Access

Lessons in Labeling

by Braswell, Nina; Koroseta, Jill; Grogan, Amy

What kind of care would you want for a loved one fighting cancer? This is the question the experts at Cancer Treatment Centers of America ask themselves every day and motivates employees to create a culture where continuous improvement becomes a habit....


Open Access

The Right Blend

by Vanicek, Vera

Faced with cost reductions and scheduling changes, a chemotherapy mixing room (CMR) implemented the define, measure, analyze, improve and control method and lean tools to optimize operations....


3.4 per Million: Box Paradox

by Carnell, Mike

Without any data to support this, I’m willing to wager that anyone who has been employed in a manufacturing or transactional environment for five years has either been directed to or heard someone direct others to “think outside the box.”...


Open Access

One Good Idea: Ultimate Originality

by Sundararajan, K.

When developing products for a new market, innovative ideas are essential. A tool that can be used to spark innovative new product ideas is the ideate, define, design and validate (IDDV) method....


Open Access

Back to Basics: To DMAIC or Not to DMAIC?

by Berardinelli, Carl F.

Define, measure, analyze, improve and control is a structured problem-solving method. Each phase builds on the previous one, with the goal of implementing long-term solutions to problems. Most problem-solving efforts benefit from a disciplined method....


Shift Into High Gear

by Hankel, Amanda

When customers of tgestiona began expressing dissatisfaction about the its inefficient service and delivery processes, it began a transport optimization project that earned gold-level status in the 2012 ASQ International Team Excellence Award process....


Making Contact

by Metz, Brian

For an organization to be able to truly understand how well it’s meeting customer expectations, more concrete, measureable metrics must be used....


Pick Your Spots

by Sherman, Peter J.

In the rush to achieve results, lean Six Sigma programs can get derailed because projects are pushed through the organization, leading to the selection of the wrong projects and suboptimizing the entire enterprise’s goals....


Rethinking Treatment

by Muzenjak, Diane; Carboneau, Clark; Galagan, Robert

Changing and improving complex processes in healthcare settings are no easy tasks. They require a systems approach using a variety of quality improvement methods and tools....


The Audit Answer

by Estrada, Angel; Sinn, John W.

Graduate students at Bowling Green State University studied the Quality Systems Educational Collaboration, a program that addresses workforce and technical assistance needs for organizations, and disclosed areas for improvement using Six Sigma methods....


On the Right Course

by Nejati, Mehran; Ghasemi, Sasan

In today's competitive business environment, organizations do not always limit their concerns to those of shareholders and customers....


Rethinking Design

by Gattiker, Thomas

Design thinking offers several tools and concepts that can complement problem-solving approaches normally taught and used by quality professionals....


Taking the Wheel

by Goodman, John

Customer experience has become the mantra of senior management looking to enhance revenue and margins. In fact, more companies are trying to differentiate themselves not only on product quality but also on total customer experience....


Quality Curriculum

by Taylor, James B.; Sinn, John W.; Lightfoot, William S.

Does quality exist as an entity independent of business? Are the business of quality and the quality of business simply two sides of the same coin? No matter—the quality discipline has become inextricably woven into business....


Wasted Words

by Patra, Pradeep; Paul, Avijit

Lean tools are embedded with elements that encourage effective communication. Whether it’s color-coded work spaces or transparent parts bins, these tools foster an environment in which cycle times are reduced while raising quality....


Open Access

The Power of Positive

by Johnston, Frank C.; Beck, Duane P.

In his 2006 book, The World is Flat, Thomas Freidman cites the many challenges globalization puts on corporate life: changing political realities, social entrepreneurship and the effects of the internet....


Online Sidebars Goodman

by Goodman, John

The customer experience framework, shown in Figure 1, allows the VOC and quality improvement activities to be placed in the context of the overall customer experience, which includes the intended basic customer experience plus all service contacts. The be...


Online (Taylor)

by James B. Taylor, John W. Sinn and William S. Lightfoot

Insights from developing a quality management and continuous improvement curriculum can be applied in an operations management context to teach quality principles to general management....


A Decade of Distinction

by Thompson, Matias Gadda; Rosanó, Verónica

In the first six months of 2010, Telefónica Group launched 60 simultaneous quality improvement projects. These 60 projects represent nearly 30% of the total number of improvement projects conducted in the company during the last decade....


Natural Selection

by Chakravorty, Satya S.

It is mind-boggling to find widely contradictory reports of improvement programs from companies using the same improvement methods. Executives don’t know what to believe. Two similar Six Sigma implementations can have two very different end results....


Perspectives: Wake Up and Smell the Cookies

by Diepstra, G. Keith

MY RECENT TRANSITION from the automotive sector to a company in the food industry held some unusual surprises: • The overall equipment effectiveness, capabilities and yields were shockingly low in the food industry....


Open Access

3.4 per Million: Firefighting With DMAIC

by Snee, Ronald D., Gardner, Edgar C.

As quality professionals, we like to solve problems by finding root causes and putting fixes in place. As a rule, we don’t like to fight fires, but sometimes we have to....


Open Access

Perspectives: Warning! Warning!

by Weisbrod, Stu

There are five warning signs that are indicators of a change in corporate attitudes toward quality. Some of these can occur naturally over time as corporations become enamored with their progress....


Quality in the First Person: Share the Wealth

by Marchetti, Carol E.

When I received my doctorate in statistics in 1997, I had never heard of quality control in a statistical context. But by 2002, I was teaching statistical quality control (SQC) at Rochester Institute of Technology in New York...


Now What?

by Carboneau, Clark; Banks, Jon; Armijo, Tony; Zondlo, John A.

This is the story of one organization’s efforts to develop and implement a dissemination process that would consistently spread its improvement solutions across all facets of the organization....


Added Traction

by Fedotowsky, Alex

The balanced scorecard (BSC) has been accepted in the business world as a valid instrument with which to translate and deploy an organization’s business strategy throughout its infrastructure....


Statistics Roundtable: Closing the Gap

by Hoerl, Roger W.; Snee, Ronald D.

The philosopher Thomas Kuhn showed that a way of thinking (a paradigm) lasts until the problems no longer adequately addressed by the paradigm are so important that a new paradigm is needed to deal with that list of unsolved problems....


The Next Chapter?

by Reidenbach, R. Eric

A new version of Six Sigma shifts focus from reducing defects and cutting costs to growing an organization’s market share by identifying targeted products and markets and creating customer value....


3.4 per Million: The Right Decision

by Mader, Douglas P.

As the Six Sigma Academy led large deployments at Allied Signal, GE and other organizations in the 1990s, one of the great benefits realized was linking define, measure, analyze, improve and control-based project improvement to financial performance....


Expert Answers: November 2009

by QP Staff

The TOPS way of getting to the root cause ... Repair vs. rework...


Attitude Shift

by Young, Marc

In a used-car dealership group based in Richmond, VA, a lean culture change took place that started with a redesign of its process for reconditioning used cars and ended with numerous benefits, some of which it didn't expect....


Critical Stage

by West, A.H. "Jack"

Has Six Sigma been a good thing? While this is a straightforward question, there isn’t a simple answer....


Open Access

Tune Up

by Allen, I. Elaine; Davenport, Thomas H.

Six Sigma has many meanings. In its simplest context, Six Sigma can be defined statistically as the attempt to achieve near-perfection by having no more than 3.4 errors per million opportunities, or being 99.997% correct (or defect-free)....


Progress Report

by He; Park; Hu; Knod; Yue

Six Sigma has been a hot topic discussed and implemented globally in the business world, nonprofit organizations and even governments. There is comparatively less research, however, into how to assess the maturity of Six Sigma implementation....


Expert Answers: July 2009

by QP Staff

Setting up a corrective action document ... Dock-to-stock for medical devices ... Questions about confidence intervals....


Online Figures Jing

by Jing, Gary G.

QP 2 Pure bonding / online Figure 5 Part one Part one Part two Part two Left distance Right distance Step one Step two Heat DMAIC Mind- set / online Figure 4 30- 50 10- 15 4- 8 KPIVs 8- 10 KPIVs Critical KPIVs 3- 6 Key leverage KPIVs Inputs variables Mea...


A Lean Six Sigma Breakthrough

by Jing, Gary G.

The relationship between lean and Six Sigma may appear to be simple, but in practice it may be more challenging because there are so many ways to piece the two together....


Statistics Roundtable: Grab the Brass Ring

by Snee, Ronald D.

Remember going to the amusement park and riding the carousel or merry-go-round? During the ride, there was sometimes a brass ring you could grab from a dispenser.It took some dexterity to snatch the ring from the dispenser as the carousel rotated....


Standards Outlook: Dynamic Duo

by Liebesman, Sandford

Lean and Six Sigma are two methods aimed at improving the quality of an organization’s operations and its financial results. Both concentrate on customer satisfaction and improved business performance....


3.4 per Million: Control and Grow Your Enterprise

by Breyfogle, Forrest

To achieve maximum efficiencies and financial results in turbulent business and financial markets, executives and senior managers must revisit their business models to make certain measurements lead to the right behaviors....


A DMAIC Makeover

by Stauffer, Rip

Define, measure, Analyze, improve and control (DMAIC) is the common roadmap for Six Sigma projects. But there are potential weaknesses in this roadmap that could be addressed with a simple, proven adjustment to DMAIC....


Talent Show

by Leatherbury, Jon

When an HR team determined it could save its company millions of dollars through stronger retention of customer service (representatives, leadership raised a collective eyebrow and quickly asked HR to make it happen....


3.4 per Million: Putting It All Together

by Snee, Ronald D.; Gardner, Edgar C.

For companies that have been asking themselves how to achieve even more improvement, the answer lies in developing a comprehensive process management system that integrates three critical components....


Newer Better Faster

by Stevenson, James R.; Kashef, Ali E.

The Small Business Administration has indicated that the majority of innovations are consistent with the continuous improvement commonly used in the define, measure, analyze, improve and control (DMAIC) Six Sigma method....


3.4 per Million: After the Low-Hanging Fruit

by Mader, Douglas P.

There are four major approaches for organization-wide improvement efforts that fall under the label “lean Six Sigma,” as evidenced by current practices at many industrial organizations, service organizations and consulting firms....


Open Access

A Dose of DMAIC

by Mukherjee, Shirshendu

Ruby hospital, a multispecialty for-profit facility in Calcutta, India, was the first in Eastern India to embrace ISO 9001 and is the only one in the country to have successfully deployed a Six Sigma improvement program....


Online ARDEC

by Krzykowski, Brett

Pilot/ execute, initial evaluation, improve, further implementation Enterprise excellence Invent & innovate, design, optimize, verify Define, measure, analyze, improve, control Define, measure, analyze, lean, control Concept, design, optimize, verify Pla...


Statistics Roundtable: In With the Right Crowd

by Snee, Ronald D.; Hoerl, Roger W.; Patterson, Angela N.

First, the good news: The importance of statistics related to the way the world does business has never been greater. Now, the bad news: The statistician and quality professional might become the proverbial middle man who gets cut out by these advances....


Open Access

It All Ties Together

by Adrian, Nicole

At a time when gas costs have skyrocketed and companies across the board are doing their bit to be greener, a team of individuals from CSX Corp. came together to develop a solution to combat the large amount of fuel wasted while locomotives sat idling....


Open Access

Sharp HealthCare Gets to the Point in Managing Diabetes

by Daniels, Susan E.

With literature from the last five years demonstrating that poor control of blood sugar in acute healthcare settings equates to negative outcomes in diabetics, Sharp HealthCare in San Diego decided to control it everywhere....


Launch to Quality

by Widner, Tracy; Gallant, Mitch

After using different quality methods with limited success, the Naval Surface Warfare Center, Indian Head Division, implemented lean Six Sigma in 2004. Through all of this, leadership demonstrated a steadfast commitment to fully implementing lean Six Sigm...


Lean Six Sigma's Evolution

by Mader, Doug

When Motorola rolled out its initial Six Sigma system in 1987, there were no Green Belts, Black Belts, Master Black Belts, Champions or any of the infrastructure or focused training we have come to associate with modern practices in Six Sigma....


Open Access

Achieve Compliance Through CI

by Chow, Alan F.; Bowman, Ronald; Wittenberg, Leonard C.

Using Six Sigma tools for continuous improvement (CI) is a proven method for meeting or exceeding FDA requirements for medical devices. Optical Integrity Inc., a manufacturer of medical devices, used the Six Sigma define, measure, analyze, improve...


Six Sigma and Baldrige: A Quality Alliance

by Mellat-Parast, Mahour; Jones, Erick C.; Adams, Stephanie G.

The Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award has evolved from a way to recognize the best quality management practices to a comprehensive framework for world-class performance....


3.4 per Million: Use DMAIC to Make Improvement Part of the Way We Work

by Snee, Ronald D.

Faster, better, cheaper. That’s what organizations across almost all major industries must now do to remain competitive....


3.4 Per Million: How to Identify and Select Lean Six Sigma Projects

by Mader, Douglas

Lean Six Sigma is a powerful method for improving existing products, processes and services. Six Sigma was developed by Motorola in 1987. Motorola’s Six Sigma yielded significant financial results...


Quality Glossary

by Nelsen, Dave

Five years after it published its first glossary of quality terms, ASQ has revised that glossary with updated definitions and new entries, many from the lean glossary published in 2005. This reference of terms, acronyms, and prominent figures in the...


Six Sigma at Cigna

by Daniels, Susan

In 2002, Cigna Corp., a provider of employee healthcare and insurance benefits, launched a grass-root driven quality program based on Six Sigma. Leadership made it clear that the approach would be holistic and would require behavioral changes and a...


Statistics Roundtable: Turning Shewhart?s Challenge Into Opportunity

by Snee, Ronald

Statisticians must step forward and lead management to become more statistically minded.

Nearly 70 years ago, quality pioneer Walter Shewhart threw down the gauntlet: "The long-range contribution of statistics depends not so much on getting a lot of highly trained statisticians into industry as it does...


Open Access

It's in the Genes at Cummins

by Daniels, Susan

When asked why diesel maker Cummins used Six Sigma to explain new health insurance benefits to its employees, the response was that Six Sigma is part of Cummins' DNA. Six Sigma methods helped ensure a smooth enrollment process, particularly for union...


Open Access

One Good Idea: 60 Minutes To A Solution

by Redmond, Matt

We’ve all been in those meetings. You know the type: Everyone knows what the problem is. Lots of ideas are chewed on and spit out. The group shares anecdotal experiences about the problem, but nobody records anything....


The Science in Six Sigma

by de Mast, Jeroen; Bisgaard, Soren

The structure Six Sigma provides for managing an organization's improvement initiatives is more important than its conformance quality target. It also guides project leaders and offers an array of analysis tools. In addition to Six Sigma's DMAIC...


Open Access

Hospital Reduces Medication Errors Using DMAIC and QFD

by Benitez, Yani; Forrester, Leslie; Hurst, Carolyn; Turpin, Debra

The medication error rate at Illinois' Alton Memorial Hospital was low when compared to national statistics, but the hospital knew cost savings would be significant if this statistic was lowered even further. A multidisciplinary team sought the help of...


Open Access

You Can Go Home Again

by Daniels, Susan

Jamie Houghton's love for Corning brought him out of retirement and back to the company when it was fighting for survival, due to the decline of the telecommunications industry and decreased demand for Corning's fiber optics. When Houghton returned to...


Open Access

Building Quality at Veridian Homes

by Leonard, Denis

Veridian Homes in Madison, Wisconsin uses several quality methods to improve productivity while reducing impact on the environment. To achieve its goal of promoting and coordinating quality throughout the company, the company employed the National...


3.4 Per Million: The Hard Part: Holding Improvement Gains

by Snee, Ronald D.

You've overcome the obstacles to launch your latest improvement initiative: scarce resources, time pressure, unforeseen glitches at every turn. Now comes the hard part--sustaining the gains....


3.4 Per Million: Deploying the 'D' in DFSS

by Mader, Douglas P.

As Six Sigma initiatives at many organizations have matured, the switch from reactive improvement - based on the DMAIC methodology - to proactive improvement - based on design for Six Sigma (DFSS) - has become pervasive....


Beyond PDCA - A New Process Management

by Gupta, Praveen

The ISO 9001 quality management standard calls for the use of the plan-do-check-act (PDCA) model for managing processes. The author questions why check is included in the cycle when the goal is to reduce the need for verification activities. Current...


Open Access

Career Corner: Use DMAIC to Enhance Your Career

by Whitacre, Teresa

Attend an ASQ section meeting or conference, and if you didn't already know it, you'll quickly learn Six Sigma is still one of the hottest methodologies in the quality profession today....


After Six Sigma - What's Next?

by Bisgaard, Soren; De Mast, Jeroen

A systematic scientific approach is fundamental to dealing with problems of variability that cause costly defects and quality problems. This idea has remained the foundation of numerous incarnations of quality management and is the basis of the current...


Quality in the First Person: You Can Call It Fred

by Phillippi, Edward F.

My business partner and I were speakers at an ASQ Six Sigma conference when I ran into a colleague we had met the year before. She asked if I remembered our discussion from the previous year regarding the pushback many quality professionals get...


Big Improvements for Small Parts

by Dudman, Lorena

National Semiconductor Corporation is a process-driven manufacturer looking for additional ways to cut costs. Having experienced dissatisfaction with an earlier continuous improvement program, it became clear that reducing costs while maintaining...


Six Sigma Delivers On-Time Service

by Johnson, Kristen

Six Sigma success isn't limited to manufacturing organizations alone. ServiceMaster's American Residential Services (ARS) Service Express improved customer satisfaction by a unique application of Six Sigma techniques. After an initial learning period,...


Open Access

Engaging Physicians in Lean Six Sigma

by Caldwell, Chip; Brexler, Jim; Gillem, Tom

Healthcare is one of the most difficult industries in which to install a quality system because of the confusing role of physicians, yet few process changes can be fully optimized without engaging physicians. One reason physicians resist change is that...


The Forgotten "C" in DMAIC

by Rybarczyk, Phillip

When using Six Sigma's define, measure, analyze, improve, control (DMAIC) approach in an improvement project, quality practitioners often either neglect or poorly execute the control stage, jeopardizing the......


Open Access

La "C" Olvidada en DMAIC

by Rybarczyk, Phillip

Al abordar un proyecto de mejora de calidad utilizando el metodo de Seis Sigma: definir, medir, analizar, mejorar y controlar (DMAIC), los profesionales de calidad a menudo cometen negligencia o ejecutan incorrectamente la etapa de control....


When Worlds Collide: Lean and Six Sigma

by Snee, Ronald D.

Facing unprecedented pressure to improve performance across the board, organizations cannot afford to forego the benefits of either Six Sigma or lean....


Does Six Sigma Work in Service Industries?

by Patton, Fred

Service and manufacturing organizations have much to learn from one another when it comes to serving customers. While in manufacturing the focus on product quality distracts employees from customer service quality requirements, in the service sector the...


Open Access

Seduce Them With Success

by Arthur, Jay

The first commandment of Six Sigma quality is that you must get top management commitment in order to succeed. The truth is that half the firms that have taken that path have failed. Six Sigma's strength is in resolving linear cause-effects, but culture...


Open Access

Time Management Using Quality Tools

by Courtney, Patrick M.

Quality tools are useful in personal life. The Six Sigma concept of process improvement, specifically the DMAIC tools, has been moved from product to process, and is now applicable for personal performance improvement. Random time checklists, frequency...


Genentech Error Proofs Its Batch Records

by Bottome, Robert; Chua, Richard C.H.

Like other firms subject to Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulation, Genentech must provide complete and accurate documentation of processes. In September 2003 an error-proofing project was launched by the good manufacturing practices core team at...


What Makes a Six Sigma Project Successful?

by Voelkel, Joseph G.

Suppose you just completed a Six Sigma project on which you were either a Champion, a belt (Master Black Belt, Black Belt or Green Belt) or a team member. You are now in a lessons learned meeting and have been asked to give your opinion on the project....


Ghosts in Your Process? Who Ya Gonna Call?

by Duncan, John

Even when using the DMAIC process, root causes of poorly performing processes can be extremely difficult to find and eliminate. In his book Manufacturing Solutions for Consistent Quality and Reliability, Robert Traver proposes a nine-step process for...


Lean Six Sigma Reduces Medication Errors

by Esimai, Grace

Medication errors are a serious threat in the healthcare industry. One mid-sized hospital interested in quality management in several areas undertook a Six Sigma project to determine what policy and practice changes might be needed to remedy the...


Quality Intervenes at a Hospital

by Volland, Jennifer

The Nebraska Medical Center, the state's largest teaching hospital, began implementation of Six Sigma in 2002 in response to a decline in patient volume in its interventional radiology department. A Six Sigma team was assembled to address problems in...


Control Charting at the 30,000-Foot-Level, Part 2

by Forrest Breyfogle III

In my November 2003 "3.4 per Million" column (p. 67), I described a traditional and a 30,000-foot-level procedure for creating control charts and making process capability/performance assessments for a continuous response....


Open Access

The Growth of Risk Management

by Gould, Greg

The quality profession and ASQ were very successful during the l980s and '90s. ASQ surged ahead in membership, national prominence and public policy influence....


Scope Projects in 10 Steps

by Harvey, Jean

The manufacturing sector has long recognized that effective change must be managed in small increments without losing sight of the big picture. Professional services, however, present other factors that require a different approach to mitigating risks....


Open Access

Which Six Sigma Metric Should I Use?

by Rudisill, Frank; Druley, Steve

Since its inception at Motorola in the early 1980s, Six Sigma has helped large and small companies solve problems, improve processes, delight customers and increase profits....


Open Access

¿Qué Métrica de Seis Sigma Debo Utilizar?

by Rudisill, Frank; Druley, Steve

Desde su inicio con Motorola a principios de los años ochenta, Seis Sigma ha ayudado a grandes y pequeñas compañias a solucionar problemas, a mejorar procesos, a complacer a sus clientes e incrementar ganancias....



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