Process Improvementoffice (816) 500-8203

Process Improvement, LLC

Quality - Turning Customer Desire into Customer Delight

When times become difficult for a company, whether because of global economies or competition, the company always seems to remember what is truly important – the customer.

Quality, not to be confused with grade, implies defect free products and services. Defects occur as a result of process variation. Defects may result in defective product or services, but will always result in not meeting customer expectations. Not meeting customer expectations will cause them to look for alternative companies. Once the customer has started looking for a replacement company, the customer is almost certainly lost as soon as convenient for them.

There are many things that may cause process variation. Not all variation is created equal, though. The workforce must understand the difference in the two main variation types (common cause and special cause) and know how to respond to both. Only through proper response to variation can a company sustain the ability to continually improve processes and prevent problem recurrence. 

Your customer-centric processes are in one of these four states. 
Does your organization know how to properly respond?
Ideal State

Conformance to specifications
Predictable output
Stable process

Threshold State

Nonconformance to specifications
Predictable output
Stable process

Brink of Chaos

Conformance to specifications Unpredictable output
Unstable process

State of Chaos

Nonconformance to specifications
Unpredictable output
Unstable process

If your processes are not stable (the bottom two states) you must first stabilize using Lean strategies: Kaizen, A3, 5 Why's,8D Problem Solving, level load, kanbans, reduce inventory to expose instablilities, etc.

Six Sigma is the correct methodology for reducing variation in the top two states, the ideal state and the threshold state. Most companies only focus on the threshold state since the problem of not meeting customer requirements already exists.

Too many companies try to apply Six Sigma to the bottom two states; it is mathematically illegal and will not work. Don't fall into this trap. This trap results in Six Sigma program failure!