MacSigma - McDonald?s To Adopt Six Sigma - Do you want fries with that?

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Mike F

Bama's Six Sigma Approach

Thanks for the interest. I will try to address several posts at once.

I am a full-time Black Belt. Apparently I have been one for about 20 years, but now know that's what my job title could have been back then. I completed my training in 2002. Black Belts are trained externally. We started with ASQ, but now use Smarter Solutions in Austin, TX. The basics of BB training is learning the DMAIC (Define-Measure-Analyze-Improve-Control) process, the decisions that need to be arrived at during each step and associated tools. You also learn Minitab so that you don't have to calculate everything by hand the way we did back in the slide rule and calculator days.

The tool kit includes both quantitative and qualitative methods, with some Lean thrown in too. The quantitative list includes standard hypothesis testing methods (t-test, ANOVA, F-test) and a host of others including correlation/regression, gage R&R, control charting, extensive coverage of DOE, and more. It is about 160 hours of in class training. A more detailed course description is at www.smartersolutions.com. I plug them because I like their stuff, and Forrest Breyfogle (the founder) has written the best reference book on Six Sigma out of the many that I own. Qualitative tools include the standard Pareto and fishbone type stuff, and also includes some more advanced/complex tools such as FMEA. The ASQ Six Sigma Black Belt Body of Knowledge gives you a good idea of what should be covered in BB training.

All Green Belts are trained internally by our BBs. We have one person assigned to training full-time, plus he also coaches many of the students (as do the rest of us). Their training is a subset of what BBs learn and is 32 hours - a 4 hour session every other week for 8 weeks. GBs must have and work a project during training.

We have 7 full-time Black Belts, and 6 that have been re-deployed back into the organization, all at the Manager level or above. (I miscounted in my original post.) We have 1 full-time GB.

Six Sigma was initiated by our CEO-owner. Several of us quality types dragged our feet for a few months, claiming that it's just TQM rehashed, it's all hype, etc. The CEO finally told us that if we didn't want to implement it, she would hire someone that would. We, the recalcitrant, stepped up the pace.

In terms of resistance, we have experienced a wide range. The first round of BB projects met with substantial support because there was real pain associated with the problem. Our advantage now is that we require a Senior Management Team members authorization (and support) for any Black Belt project. There has probably been more resistance to Green Belt projects. They are smaller in scope, sometimes more difficult to quantify any financial benefit, and at times we have over-taxed the resources of a facility or work group due to inadequate resource balancing.

Regarding measurement - one of our 5 top level measures in our Balanced Scorecard is the results from a monthly Six Sigma Cultural Assessment Survey. The population surveyed is about 100 people in the management & professionals group. We sample 25% of the population each month. It includes 11 questions that address both the Quality of SS systems and the Acceptance of SS within the culture. We believe that one of our biggest opportunities is to improve our folk's ability to effectively use data and information for decision making. Using some of the tools in the SS toolbox can help that. I've gotten goose bumps from making presentations to our Senior Management Team and have the conversation suddenly centered on P-values and whether 90% or 95% confidence is sufficient for the decision that needed to be made. The goose bumps are because I was not participating in the conversation.

Marc - you are correct is believing that Six Sigma is not the only reason we make great products. We have been working at this stuff for years and have comprehensive quality systems in place that address everything from the way we build our facilities to process control to the color of band-aids that are allowed in the facility (blue!). Although we were pretty good, Six Sigma has helped us make significant progress in defect reduction. We implemented a product quality tracking system in 2002, and have experienced between 50% to 80% reduction in defects in 3 years depending on the facility. Some processes even operate at the infamous 6 sigma level (<3.4 defects per million) - which our benchmarking indicates is rare in the food industry. (And is also rare based on prior experience in the automotive sector.) You are also correct in believing we have a good personality culture. The easiest way to find yourself "seeking other opportunities" at Bama is to mistreat people. Makes for a nice work environment.

Our approach to Six Sigma is project focused. We usually know where there is pain, so we define one or two high level measure of that pain as the key project metric. There are almost always secondary metrics for balance. For example, if the pain is higher than desired raw material costs our key metric might be cost variance to the standard. The secondary level metric might be something like product quality and line efficiency. We do a lot of projects that sound like they are only focused on money - but we have not raised our prices for our core products of pies and biscuits since 1996. There's some customer focus for you!

Hope this helps.
 

Caster

An Early Cover
Trusted Information Resource
Lucky You - A Leader who "Leads"

Mike F said:
. In my opinion, those who prefer to bash Six Sigma have either:
...
4) work in a frustrating environment that is common among us quality professionals - where it is a continuous battle to not only get other leaders to understand the exorbitant waste of time, money and customer goodwill associated with poorly designed and run processes, but to also make the "constancy of purpose" commitment to changing how to run the organization, or...
Mike

I also do not understand the passionate opposition SS generates.

Like you say, if it works...

I do think you are very fortunate.

According to your web site your CEO is unique. I note she is a Scientist and not an MBA. Hmmmmmm

I think ANY kind of improvement would work at Bama - because of the boss. Six Sigma works for you - so go for it...

I realize I have a role to work to make change happen, even in the face of opposition from above. But, look how much more successful it is when leaders "lead".

Thanks Mike - reading your web site has recharged me to keep up the fight...or perhaps look for a new leader.
 
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Marc

Fully vaccinated are you?
Leader
I think that most of the people that 'bash' six sigma (myself included) do so based upon the understanding that the 'six sigma' package encompasses existing tools and because of the hype. When I hear things like 'Six Sigma Tool Kit' I cringe - Nothing new in there. They do not belog to six sigma. They're the same tools I learned over my 'career in quality', yet many six sigma promoters insinuate that these are some how different with the six sigma 'name' plastered over them. I again suggest that six sigma works best at 'Good personality' companies and is not going to save or be much help in a 'Bad Personality' company. Good Personality companies are analyzing and using data to make decisions already, typically including 'six sigma' tools (whether or not they label them as six sigma tools).

As for Black Belts and all that - I relate it to any training. You can't have too much of it. In my view six sigma training is like going for an associates degree in a focused field. In fact, a gal I know asked me about my thoughts on six sigma a couple of months ago. She asked if going through the training would be worth it. I told her I felt it would be worth it for several reasons, not the least of which is it's another proficiency she can both use and point to when raises and such come up.
 
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Mike F

The Marketing of Six Sigma

"When I hear things like 'Six Sigma Tool Kit' I cringe - Nothing new in there. They do not belog to six sigma. They're the same tools I learned over my 'career in quality', yet many six sigma promoters insinuate that these are some how different with the six sigma 'name' plastered over them."

I know that the 'marketing package' around Six Sigma was a big part of my initial resistance. I learned very little about new tools in BB training (due to my CQE background) - but I did learn how to use Minitab and the appropriate method to do much more analysis in much less time than was previously possible. The other thing I walked away with was a very prescriptive series of events for working a project. The DMAIC approach - at least the way we apply it - provides inexperienced people with a roadmap for project management. It also defines tools and decision trees that might be appropriate at each step along the way. That way they don't have to be quality geeks like us to know when it is appropriate to use a one-way ANOVA or a logistic regression analysis.

Putting all the Six Sigma hype aside, what I have found in talking with practioners in companies that are successfully using this methodology is that these organizations really needed help. They needed a systematic approach to identifying problems important to the business, getting the right resources in place, and maintaining the focus on improving the process to the point that you can legitimately say the difference is statistically significant. We have also made a concerted effort to provide many people with a common language for discussion and decision making. We have made substantial progress in changing the way that people think about problems - you have to figure out a way to measure the situation so that you can prove that it is better after implementing changes. For us, this is perhaps the most profound benefit from our Six Sigma path. I never thought I would hear so many people quoting Dr. Deming... "How do you know?" Is that cool or what?

Mike
 
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Dave Strouse

Me too!

Marc said:
I think that most of the people that 'bash' six sigma (myself included) do so based upon the understanding that the 'six sigma' package encompasses existing tools and because of the hype. When I hear things like 'Six Sigma Tool Kit' I cringe - Nothing new in there. They do not belog to six sigma. They're the same tools I learned over my 'career in quality', yet many six sigma promoters insinuate that these are some how different with the six sigma 'name' plastered over them..

I agree.

It sure does make me cringe also when I hear some CQE talk about the "quality tools". For example, they act like control charts are a quality thing when they were invented by a by God “PHYSICIST" who worked as an "INDUSTRIAL STATISTICIAN." And don't even get me started on ANOM which was invented by another "INDUSTRIAL STATISTICIAN ", Ellis Ott and perfected by my old mentor Ed Schilling. Where DO they get off claiming those tools as theirs? When I hear things like "CQE BOK" I just nearly turn inside out. These are things from "INDUSTRIAL STATISTICIANS"

Marc- I love you like a brother and you and this site are a great help to many, but please try to understand this use of sarcasm. Why does the term bother you? Put aside the hype you perceive from some 6 Sigma proponents and do as Mike F. suggests looking for the good things in this methodology.

I was actually p***ed off when I was selected for the training. I looked at the curriculum and said "What's all this? I can teach these things, I don't need this".

However, when I saw the DMAIC roadmap I realized that in the past:
When I had been successful ; I had followed it (in its alter ego as PDCA) and had been fortunate in my use of tools at the right time.
When I had not been so structured, my results were not so good.

The Six Sigma training reinforced and solidified all my previous experience and gave me a framework to effectively train many others with disparate backgrounds.

So, where is the bad in that?

By the way, I’m not sure who the promoters and hypsters are. Most of what Six Sigma material I have read (which is a lot) is reasonably balanced and objective and pays tribute to the many who went before. Possibly Mikel Harry is an exception as he is a lot over the top on everything!

Again, sorry for the sarcasm, which I don’t usually indulge in, but I truly don’t understand your point. All knowledge is accumulative to a great extent and it is best to ignore those (interested in who you perceive them to be) who try to say otherwise.

BTW – I hold 4 ASQ certificates (CQE,CRE, CSSBB and as of yesterday CQM); so I am not in anyway disparaging them. But the BOK for each are also all built on previous work from many different fields. So if it’s OK for ASQ to talk about the BOK and quality “tools” why is it not OK for others?
 

Marc

Fully vaccinated are you?
Leader
Note that I'm not saying six sigma is bad. I said what I think - That many people are turned off by the hype. I also stated that I in no way think the training is bad. Any training is good. If I had reason, I'd take the course my self. And I'm sure it would be good for me as it was for you.

That still doesn't mean it will be the saviour of 'Bad Personality' companies. Most of the 'Good Personailiy' companies I have been in already use most or all of the tools, when appropriate, already make decisions based upon analysis of data, and use what is being called DMAIC (I didn't learn it under that acronym, but I learned the same thing back in the 1980's).

So - I'm not actually 'bashing' six sigma - Just saying it's not a cure-all elixer.
 
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sulkinsf

Bama's Quality Culture

Caster said:
According to your web site your CEO is unique. I note she is a Scientist and not an MBA. Hmmmmmm

I do recall that Paula has an MBA.

I no longer work at Bama, but can make some notable points about Paula and her top Managements support of quality.

:agree1: First, since the late 80's she has consistently made decisions that demonstrate not only her passion for quality, but for "helping people be successful."

From a Quality perspective that means that although your department may be responsible for an area or measureables, the companies values come first. So the departmental strife is more about whats right for the company rather than meeting targets.

The company history is filled with stories of Paula making decisions that support values over profit, forcing management out that do not follow values, Paula publicly thanking or encouraging behavior that supports the values and management publicly reversing decisions and apologizing for mistakes. People who would have been terminated for costly mistakes were retained and some even promoted. Any who was leaned out of a job was promised job security. So quality initiatives were easier because you didnt have employees worried they were going to be improved out of a job.

Second, the values were supported by the business plan and other systems. We used to show that business objectives would be met, but would also relate back to one of the values. The company also used internal customer surveys and performance reviews were tied to employeed development (not pay).
 
R

ralphsulser

sulkinsf said:
I do recall that Paula has an MBA.

I no longer work at Bama, but can make some notable points about Paula and her top Managements support of quality.

:agree1: First, since the late 80's she has consistently made decisions that demonstrate not only her passion for quality, but for "helping people be successful."

From a Quality perspective that means that although your department may be responsible for an area or measureables, the companies values come first. So the departmental strife is more about whats right for the company rather than meeting targets.

The company history is filled with stories of Paula making decisions that support values over profit, forcing management out that do not follow values, Paula publicly thanking or encouraging behavior that supports the values and management publicly reversing decisions and apologizing for mistakes. People who would have been terminated for costly mistakes were retained and some even promoted. Any who was leaned out of a job was promised job security. So quality initiatives were easier because you didnt have employees worried they were going to be improved out of a job.

Second, the values were supported by the business plan and other systems. We used to show that business objectives would be met, but would also relate back to one of the values. The company also used internal customer surveys and performance reviews were tied to employeed development (not pay).

This sounds like the company I have been looking for all my life, didn't think one existed. I would have loved to make a positive contribution to such a company, and work my rear end off to make sure they were successful.
Bravo :applause:
 
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