Education Essays - Education and Training

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Education and Training

Education and Training

Many educational programs currently exist; most provided by consulting companies. A list of the most reputable consultants can be found in the Six Sigma Consultants category of the iSixSigma library.

What training is necessary? Well, it depends on who is getting trained. Here's a snapshot table identifying the major groups of individuals, the suggested training agenda, approximate cost and duration of the training.

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Training Your Business or Organization


Major Topics

Approximate Cost Per Person


Management Team and Champions

* Six Sigma Overview * Benefits and Case Studies * How To Implement Six Sigma * Tools and Resources



Selected Six Sigma Leaders (Black Belts and Master Black Belts)

* Six Sigma Overview * Six Sigma Methodology and Tools * Statistics Training * Computer Application Training * ProjectSelection and Execution


4 weeks delivered over a period of 2-6 months

All Employees

* Six Sigma Overview * Benefits * What To Expect Going Forward * Simple Case Study and Exercise

Variable, depending on if taught in-house or if consultant (approximately $2,000 per day plus expenses) is used


Resource Commitment As discussed above, Black Belts (BBs) and/or Master Black Belts (MBBs) need to be identified and trained. But more importantly, they need to be assigned to your Six Sigma efforts almost 100%; 50% application yields less than a 50% result. In addition to BBs and MBBs, you should be ready to assign 5-15% of key employees' time to specific projects.

Link to Compensation We all work and perform responsibilities for a paycheck, right? Just as you expect your factory to produce Y widgets per hour and your bank to process Z deposits per day, you should expect projects to be contributed to and successfully completed in a prescribed time period. And employees executing well should be compensated well. The quickest way to initiative success is to tie results to the business bottom line, create performance goals, and compensate employees appropriately.

n the first part of this article, we looked at four major requirements for successfully implementing Six Sigma quality within your organization -- regardless of the size of your organization. They are:

· Management Team Buy-In and Support

· Education and Training

· Resource Commitment

· Link to Compensation

Now, we'll look at each of these areas with application to small companies. After each major requirement will be a synopsis and discussion around whether it is easier to implement Six Sigma Quality in a small company or a large company.

Application of Six Sigma to Small Companies Management Team Buy-In and Support Easier Compared to large companies, small company management teams are typically closer on a personal basis. Pulling the small company team together for a short meeting can be done in minutes, as opposed to days for a large company. Because smaller companies are more agile, it is typically easier to achieve management team agreement that a standard methodology can help achieve results. Although politics are always present, less may be required in a smaller company to come to agreement and buy-in for implementing Six Sigma Quality.

Education and Training Harder Although the costs presented on page 1 are somewhat standard, buying in bulk always produces a discount. This is the main reason I believe education and training is harder (costlier) for smaller companies. Time is money -- time away from the office is lost revenue and production for both small and large companies alike. But the return on investment is a function of the potential savings of the business. For a behemoth like GE or Motorola, standardized processes can yield enormous savings -- a large potential exists prior to implementing Six Sigma. For a smaller companies, the savings potential may not be as great. The return on investment may not be as quick or as significant. You know your business and processes better than anyone else. How great are the potential savings?

Resource Commitment Slightly Harder The key issue here is employee time. As mentioned above, time is money for both employees that are partially assigned to teams and project leaders. BUT -- we must remember to see the forest through the trees. Any time dedicated to process improvement will be recouped in process productivity going forward for all time. But it again boils down to the potential savings that are available in your business.

Link to Compensation Easier No brainier. Being able to link compensation to Six Sigma implementation is much easier in a small company, compared to a larger company. Decisions in general are quicker for small a company, that’s why they are more agile. The key will be applying the rigor and written procedures that larger companies do well. Formal performance appraisal systems need to identify what is to be accomplished, what success looks and feels like, and how an employee will be compensated. Just be sure to involve your Human Resources representative to ensure that employee responsibilities are being modified in the appropriate manner.

Only after reviewing your unique business landscape will you be able to determine if your small business climate is right for implementing Six Sigma Quality. I hope the above discussion triggers your own thoughts and discussions within your business. Good luck!

All Six Sigma proponents agree to the fact that the key to Six Sigma improvement success is the building up of an effective infrastructure. An effective infrastructure lays the foundation for the success of the organization in its implementation of Six Sigma. It is a known fact today that the success of Six Sigma lays on the projects selected and their link to the strategy of their organization. There have been enough publications on the selection of projects and the filters to be used for the prioritization of projects, however there are not enough details available on the building the key infrastructure for the deployment of Six Sigma.

When we discuss the building up of an implementation structure what we are embarking on is a project in itself, which follows the DMAIC (Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve and Control) methodology: D: Define the Strategic Direction of the organization M: Set Measures for the strategic objectives of the organization A: On a continual basis collect data on the measures set and analyse using Six Sigma tools and techniques I: Identify the opportunities for improvement and convert them to Six Sigma projects for improvement C: Set up a management control action of continuous reviews on the improvements made on the Six Sigma Projects

The objectives of the Define and Measure phase of this project are defined as below:

  • Building up a set of metrics for the organization that give definition to the organizations Vision
  • Metrics that are Integrated with the Strategic direction and objectives of the organization
  • Metrics that align people and work with their strategic objectives
  • Metrics that serve as effective means of communication for the organization both horizontally and vertically.
  • Metrics that provide insight needed for making decisions, setting direction and correcting course.
  • Metrics which will serve as a continuous source for identifying gaps in the organization and plugging them with Six Sigma Projects

The problem most organizations face in the phases of Define and Measure is how to build such an organizational dashboard, which will help achieve the objectives cited above.

First Step The first step an organization needs to embark on is conducting a self-assessment based on proven assessment models like the Malcolm Baldrige which will help the organization in understanding its "as is" state more clearly and help identify the various opportunities for improvement. The organizations could use the checklist type of approach in conjunction with interviews for identifying the gaps in Approach-Deployment-Results. Once the assessment of the organization is completed the findings need to be shared with the top management and the employees. This step is extremely crucial as this is what binds the organization together and helps create the cultural change needed aspect within the organization combined with the need for Six Sigma.

Second Step Once the first step is conducted the organization is now clear about its current strategies for growth and customer statisfaction. Based on the assessment conducted the organization can re-evaluate all its strategies and strategic objectives. New strategic objectives can now be identified.

Third Step Most organizations after having articulated and identified their various objectives are unable to communicate the strategies of the organization. One of the most effective methods for communicating the strategy of the organization is building a strategy map encompassing the now widely adopted Kaplan and Norton's Balanced score card spanning the four perspectives. Answering the questions related to the perspectives helps understand the strategy better and also build a good strategy map. The strategy map helps provide the vital cause and effect linkages in an organization and helps link the Business processes to the strategic destination of the organization. Before attempting to build the map it is essential for the organization to identify all its core processes and support processes as they help in completing the strategy map.

The Four Perspectives

The Balanced score card perspectives help an organization to integrate and operationalise the organizations strategy.

As an example for the application for the application of the method consider a hypothetical case mentioned below. This case utilizes the frequently used Catapult in the Six Sigma black belt training and explains the concept.

XYZ is a company that is newly set up. It is in the business of delivering thrown balls to customer specifications. It has a vision of being a leading international player in the business of thrown balls by the Year 2005. It hopes to achieve this through high volumes and low cost by being the lowest cost producer. The company values its customers very strongly and believes in customer retention as its strength. In order to meet this vision the company CEO has ordered the latest state of the art machinery -- the Catapult -- for a cost of 10 Million Dollars.

The business of thrown balls is a relatively new business. In prior years, potential customers of this business had their own machinery and set-ups to meet their internal requirements. Today, where organizations are focusing on their core activities, various users of thrown balls are contemplating outsourcing this activity, making this business a very viable potentially high earning business.

XYZ has to market their product from scratch where they have to identify the markets and generate the marketing demands. International threats from Chinese products is very high. The Chinese products are known to be supplied at a very low cost making them potentially high threat to the industry. Apart from the Chinese threat there are four other Indian competitors.

The key requirements of customers are the consistency in the distance the ball is thrown from the base of the catapult. Variation from the center of the base is also critical, however, the customer might accept products offered with variation beyond specifications subject to customers approval. Delivery on time is one of the key requirements of the customer.

To service the customers properly the CEO has decided to operate through three sales and marketing outlets and two manufacturing units strategically located.

The spares of the machinery imported are not available freely in India. The organization cannot afford downtime of machines and has taken necessary steps to ensure that the machines are in the best of shape.

The management has decided that it needs to keep a control on the costs while developing business. The main raw material for the product is the balls and they are available freely in India. The marketing department has just received a hot inquiry from a potential client. This customer is one of the largest potential customers in the market.

The customer needs are that he wants balls to be delivered at 75+- 3 inch from the base of the catapult. The ball delivered to be +-2 inch from the center of the base (axial requirement). The customer needs 50 balls delivered within 10 miniutes. For balls that do not meet the requirement of +-2 axially but are in the +- 3-inch specification, the customer will buy the material at a 10% discount. Selling price of each correct ball delivered is $1000. Despite stiff competition from the Chinese on the price front, your marketing manager has been able to get this pilot order.

Raw material price for the ball is $500.

We know that everything in business is a process, right? Sales people have a list of companies and contacts that they work in a certain fashion to produce a sale, production receives an order and schedules the manufacturing, the product is built, packaged, shipped and invoiced. When the packing department has a problem with their process, though, should they fix it with a DMAIC or DMADV (also referred to as DFSS) type project?

The Similarities of DMAIC and DMADV Let's first look at the DMAIC and DMADV methodologies and talk about how they're alike. DMAIC and DMADV are both:

  • Six Sigma methodologies used to drive defects to less than 3.4 per million opportunities.
  • Data intensive solution approaches. Intuition has no place in Six Sigma -- only cold, hard facts.
  • Implemented by Green Belts, Black Belts and Master Black Belts.
  • Ways to help meet the business/financial bottom-line numbers.
  • Implemented with the support of a champion and process owner.

The Differences of DMAIC and DMADV DMAIC and DMADV sound very similar, don't they? The acronyms even share the first three letters. But that's about where the similarities stop.


Define Measure Analyze Improve Control

  • Define the project goals and customer (internal and external) deliverables
  • Measure the process to determine current performance
  • Analyze and determine the root cause(s) of the defects
  • Improve the process by eliminating defects
  • Control future process performance

When To Use DMAIC The DMAIC methodology, instead of the DMADV methodology, should be used when a product or process is in existence at your company but is not meeting customer specification or is not performing adequately.


Define Measure Analyze Design Verify

  • Define the project goals and customer (internal and external) deliverables
  • Measure and determine customer needs and specifications
  • Analyze the process options to meet the customer needs
  • Design (detailed) the process to meet the customer needs
  • Verify the design performance and ability to meet customer needs

When To Use DMADV The DMADV methodology, instead of the DMAIC methodology, should be used when:

  • A product or process is not in existence at your company and one needs to be developed
  • The existing product or process exists and has been optimized (using either DMAIC or not) and still doesn't meet the level of customer specification or six sigma level

"I Thought it was a DMAIC, But it Turned Out to be a DMADV!" Occasionally a project is scoped as a DMAIC for incremental process improvement when it really required a DMADV methodology improvement. And it was a month into the project that you realized this! Don't be discouraged about the work you put into the DMAIC because 1) it's happened to more businesses than just yours, 2) you understand the process at a much greater detail than you did initially, and 3) you were able to practice not just DMAIC skills but also DMADV!

Pick yourself up, dust yourself off and re-craft your define piece of the project so you can begin with a fresh look at the project and solutions. You never know what insights you'll have now that you may not have been aware of before.

DMADV is one of two major methodologies of the Six Sigma system. The Six Sigma system is a way to improve processes in work and manufacturing and its main goal is to eliminate defects. The Six Sigma methodology has been widely used by many Fortune 500 corporations with amazing results and can be used in small groups to achieve goals or on a corporate level affecting tens of thousands of workers. The short definition of the Six Sigma system is a set of practices that improve efficiency and remove defects.

The Six Sigma system has been around for over 20 years and was built upon the TQM (total quality management) and Zero Defect principles. It strives to achieve high quality manufacturing and business processes by continued efforts to reduce variations.

The major methodology of Six Sigma states that in order to eliminate defects or variations, processes used in both business and manufacturing must be measured, analyzed, controlled and improved upon. In addition, Six Sigma requires a sustained commitment from a small group or an entire organization.

Six Sigma refers to a defect level of lower than 3.4 defects or variations per million opportunities. Its name and actions strive to achieve high quality output. The Six Sigma methodology has been extremely successful throughout the business world and has helped companies save billions of dollars through enhanced productivity and a reduction of defects. The Six Sigma system was originally started by Motorola and is a trademark of the Motorola Corporation.

There are two major methodologies in the Six Sigma system, they are DMAIC and DMADV. In this article, DMADV will be covered. DMADV is an extremely effective way to create a new product or a new process design. This methodology's goals are for its designs to be predictable, and defect free. There are five steps in the DMADV process, they include; Define, Measure, Analyze, Design Details and Verify the Design. Here is some more information regarding each step.

Define: In the first step, you must define the design goals that are both consistent with your customer's demands and your own company's goals.

Measure: In this step, four things should be measured. They include, CTQ's which stand for critical to qualities, production process capability, risk assessments and product capabilities.

Analyze: It is important to use the process of analysis to develop and design better alternatives that can reduce defects. These designs must be evaluated for their inherent capabilities to determine whether the design is the best available or if an alternative can be created which may be better.

Design Details: In this step a design must be optimized to function at its peak. In addition, in order to optimize a design, a design must usually be verified. While verification is the last process, during the design details step, a design plan should be readied for the next step.

Verification: Once a design has been analyzed and tested, it should be verified. Verification usually occurs through pilot runs. As a design is verified through the pilot run, it can be readied for full production.