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Common Questions About the DMAIC Cycle for Improvement

Posted by Jeff Roussel

May 17, 2021 1:34:12 PM

The DMAIC cycle is often called Six Sigma’s roadmap to improvement. It is one of the core tools of the methodology, but organizations also use it as a standalone improvement technique. We have clients in almost every industry, from healthcare to construction, who have achieved quantifiable impact against core business metrics by using the DMAIC approach. 

Here are some of the questions we get asked about the DMAIC cycle most often.

 

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Topics: Six Sigma, Improvement Process, DMAIC

DMAIC Tools Offer a Solid Structure for Problem Solving

Posted by Kade Jansson

May 11, 2021 10:30:14 AM

DMAIC (Deh-May-Ick) tools are some of the most critical options in the continuous improvement toolbox. They are most closely associated with the Six Sigma methodology. Still, the DMAIC approach to problem-solving is also used by those who practice Lean manufacturing or don’t use a formal management structure. DMAIC is so widely used because the problem-solving framework takes teams from discovering root causes to long-term, stable standard work. It is a repeatable process that employees can learn to apply to any number of process problems.  

What Are DMAIC Tools?

DMAIC stands for Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, and Control.  Motorola is credited with bringing it to prominence, although it was essentially an evolution of the Toyota production system.

A deeper dive reveals why it works so well.

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Topics: Lean, Six Sigma, Improvement Process, DMAIC

How to Design and Use an A3 Management Process Template

Posted by Jeff Roussel

May 3, 2021 4:23:43 PM

Whether you’ve read volumes about various business methodologies and the philosophy of continuous improvement or just a few articles, you can’t be blamed if you’ve started to wonder if Toyota developed every improvement technique.

They certainly contributed a lot but, companies like Motorola, General Electric, Nike, and others have enhanced thinking about the power of positive change. In fact, these days companies far outside of the manufacturing sector including those in healthcare, construction, and higher education are finding new ways to inch closer to business process perfection.

However, there is no denying that many of the tools and techniques that businesses of all sorts find useful were developed as part of the Toyota Production System.

The A3 management process is one example.

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Topics: Lean, Improvement Process, Improvement Methodology

Three Steps to Applying the A3 Problem-Solving Methodology

Posted by Ryan Rippey

Apr 21, 2021 1:33:07 PM

The A3 problem-solving methodology was first used by Toyota in the 1960s and later embraced by proponents of Total Quality Management, Six Sigma, Lean, and other systematic approaches to continuous improvement. "A3" references a European paper size that is about the same size as an American 11-inch by 17-inch tabloid-sized paper. Using the A3 process, teams create a one-page improvement project report. By limiting the report to one page, teams are forced to be concise and thoughtful about including only relevant information needed to solve problems. 

Because our solution supports the A3 technique, and problem-solving and continuous improvement go hand in hand, we are often asked for tips on how to deploy it. Here are three steps to success.

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Topics: Lean, Continuous Improvement Software, Improvement Process, Improvement Methodology

Wondering Where to Start? 30 Business Process Improvement Examples

Posted by Maggie Millard

Mar 9, 2021 10:13:00 AM

One thing we hear from leaders who are looking to implement a structured approach to business process improvement is that it is difficult to explain to employees how to spot an opportunity for improvement. There are usually a few straightforward ideas that people point to right away, but once they are taken care of, it can be challenging to spot problems in processes, especially those you engage with every day.

An effective way to overcome this problem is to give employees categories of improvement opportunities to consider. Priming the pump with some examples and providing some questions to ask is an excellent way to get people thinking creatively. Of course, every business is different, and all of these examples might not apply to you, but here are 30 ideas that might spark a few of your own.

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Topics: Leadership, Spread Continuous Improvement, Improvement Process

Improvement Software Buyer's Guide for Manufacturers

Posted by Maggie Millard

Mar 2, 2021 10:29:00 PM

Continuous improvement has long been an important goal in manufacturing. Some organizations leverage structured business management methodologies such as Lean or Six Sigma, while others use a less formal approach. Either way, the goal is to maximize resources, reduce cost, and deliver quality products on time. Many organizations have turned to improvement management software to help remove the friction from positive change to achieve these critical objectives. If you are considering technology to accelerate your progress, this post will help.

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Topics: Software, Continuous Improvement Software, Improvement Process

5 Root Cause Analysis Techniques to Breakthrough Barriers

Posted by Kade Jansson

Feb 23, 2021 11:13:00 AM

A root cause analysis is a structured method for finding the underlying causes of process problems and undesirable outcomes. Root cause analysis is a core problem-solving technique used by organizations dedicated to continuous improvement. As the name implies, it is all about addressing the origin of the issue rather than employing solutions that address only surface problems.

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Topics: Improvement Process, Improvement Methodology

7 New Leadership and Management Books We Love

Posted by Taylor Edwards

Feb 11, 2021 11:13:00 AM

The year 2020 will no doubt claim a chapter in the history books of the future. While it was a very challenging year in many ways, we did find a bright spot in the literature surrounding leadership and management. With some extra time on our hands, we uncovered some excellent resources. In the spirit of Valentine's day, we'd like to spread a little love. We hope you enjoy these new additions to our list of favorite inspirational reads.

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Topics: Leadership, Improvement Process

An Introduction to Process Control Charts

Posted by Greg Jacobson

Feb 4, 2021 12:27:31 PM

Donald J. Wheeler, PhD is a world-renowned expert in continuous improvement. He's worked with W. Edwards Deming and wrote the classic book Understanding Variation. 

Wheeler once wrote and said, "Statistical Process Control is, at its heart, about getting the most from your processes. It is about the continual improvement of processes and outcomes. And it is, first and foremost, a way of thinking... with some tools attached." 

I’d like to thank him for providing the perfect quote for a blog about process control charts because measurement, control, and improvement are exactly what they are designed to enable.

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Topics: Lean, Six Sigma, Improvement Process

The Institute for Healthcare Improvement Model for Improvement

Posted by Maggie Millard

Feb 2, 2021 10:19:00 AM

The Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) Model for Improvement is a straightforward approach that many organizations use to structure their improvement strategies. The method focuses on setting goals and teamwork to achieve change. It promotes improvement by looking for answers to three questions:

  • What are we trying to accomplish?
  • How will we know that a change results in improvement?
  • What changes can we make that will achieve improvement?

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Topics: Lean Healthcare, Improvement Process

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