When to Use Lean Six Sigma Tools? - PART II

Khwaja Moinuddin
Posted: 06/27/2015

In many scenarios, new lean six sigma practitioners, uncertain about the methodology, tend to get confused on when to use the different lean six sigma tools. This article, the second of a two-part series, gives an overview on when to use different Lean Six Sigma/Change Management tools and in which phases of DMAIC (Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve and Control).

To view the first 12 scenarios, click here:


#13: Production Leveling (Heijunka)

To reduce unnecessary inventory and capital getting locked up as inventory in warehouses. Production Leveling helps with creating "flow" and getting the product/service on time/faster to the customer.

Which phase of DMAIC to use? Analyze/Improve

#14: SMED (Single Minute Exchange of Dies)

To reduce the changeover time on a machine, between systems etc. SMED helps with creating "flow" and reducing batch sizes.
Which phase of DMAIC to use? Analyze/Improve

#15: FMEA (Failure Modes and Effects Analysis)

To analyze how each (prioritized) X fails, what are the effects on Primary Y when X fails, Why each X fails, what are the current controls etc. In simple terms to drill down to the root cause of the problem/issue. Ensure the operational definitions of ratings for Severity, Occurences and Detection are agreed upon and the scale is customized if necessary. Ratings should be based on data.

Which phase of DMAIC to use? Analyze/Improve

#16: Control Charts

To determine whether the process is stable and has special or common cause variation. Use the appropriate control charts based on the type of data and pre-requisites. For example I-MR control chart cannot be used if the data is not normally distributed. Refer Minitab Statguide for detailed information.
Which phase of DMAIC to use? Measure/Improve/Control

#17: Capability Analysis

To compare customer's specification limits with process control limits (in simple terms to determine whether the process can meet customer's specifications or not). Ensure the specification limits actually come from the customer and not some hypothetical numbers. Refer Minitab Statguide for detailed information.
Which phase of DMAIC to use? Measure/Improve

#18: Brainstorming techniques (Reverse, Analogy, Six Thinking Hats etc.)

To brainstorm solutions for the root cause(s) or critical Xs. Six Thinking Hats requires the use of an experienced facilitator who is trained and certified in Six Thinking Hats.
Which phase of DMAIC to use? End of Analyze/Improve

#19: Pugh matrix

To select the best solution objectively from among a set of solutions. The Pugh matrix is a much better objective tool compared to other tools which tend to be subjective.
Which phase of DMAIC to use? Improve

#20: Kano model

To determine the needs, wants and desires of customers. Offers insights into the product attributes which are perceived to be important to customers. Supports product specification through better development of team understanding

Which phase of DMAIC to use? Pre-Define/Define

#21: VOC gathering techniques (Surveys, Customer complaints, secret shopper, Structured interviews, Gembas etc.)

To determine and understand the pain areas of a customer(s) and thereby make a case for change (whether a project is required or not). As far as possible, collect VOC by direct interaction with customers rather than surveys to get quality information. VOC is converted to CTQs (Critical to Quality Characteristics) i.e. objective measures which can determine if VOC is met or not.
Which phase of DMAIC to use? Pre-Define/Define

#22: Control Plans

To ensure the gains/improvements made through the project don’t slip back to the original state. Most of the projects fail due to incomplete or no control plans.
Which phase of DMAIC to use? Control

#23: Threat vs. Opportunity matrix

To create a sense of urgency (burning platform) for change. Focus on Threats if we DO make the change as well.
Which phase of DMAIC to use? Pre-Define/Define

#24: Stakeholder analysis/mapping

To determine areas of resistance and support. Ensure the stakeholder rating (such as ++ or --) is based on some data/previous experience with the stakeholders and not just based on heresay or person opinions.
Which phase of DMAIC to use? Define phase; updated through out the phases periodocially
Khwaja Moinuddin
Posted: 06/27/2015


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