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Problem Solving with Six Sigma Tools

There are many ways solve and define problems, we at THECUBE have decided to use six sigma tools as they have been used to solve complex industrial processes and systems. Complex, however doesn’t equate to complicated, solutions can be both simple yet complex. Innovation for business is complex and layered, so it needs tools that can be adjusted at the various stages to provide the optimal simplest solution.

Below are three tools, which we will be exploring in further contexts both in articles and events.

Y= F(x)

All problems are a simple equation of Y=f(x). Y is the outcome of the problem and x is all the inputs that control the outcome Y.  The goal in problem solving is finding ways to manipulate x’s which will lead to the desired results of Y. For example, if Y is building clients the x’s are researching their needs, creating new marketing strategies, modifying communication, re-branding, creating a service/product, extending your network, and so on.

DMAIC

DMAIC is a six sigma tool, we have modified it to the context of business and innovation. DMAIC stands for Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, and Control. This tool is when you are looking to improve, pivot, or create a change.

  • Define: Define the problem by going to the root of the symptoms. For example, a business can be short staffed, not generating profit, loosing customers.  These could be symptoms of a more fundamental problem, like and outdated service or product.
  • Measure: Collect data, look at current processes, research.
  • Analyse: Look at data and ask questions. Go back and see if the original diagnosis of  problem is correct. Sketch out new discoveries. Be a good observer.
  • Improve: Start to generate new process, make changes and pivots. This stage is  experimental as you are still looking for the best solutions. Generate prototypes of possible solutions, try them out and get feedback.
  • Control: Every solutions generates other problems, so create a risk assessment. Basically what are the consequences of taking this action and continue to observe and adjust.

DMADV

DMADV is another six sigma tool, which use in making a new processes from scratch or looking to innovate. Here are some questions and tips to remind and ask yourself when problem solving, again we have modified to fit our context:

  • DefineWhat is the desired result
  • Measure: What is the complete impact of the idea or new process?
  • Analyse: Ask questions about how will the idea live in desired market, how will it be perceived, what are its vital elements?
  • Design: Design the idea. What are its full dimensions and perimeters? Imagine that your idea is a Cube, it has to have full dimension of height ( how far do  you want it to go) cubic space ( how will people interact and obtain your idea) it has faces ( the components of your idea). Ideas are three dimensional and need to be designed as objects, so they are ready to be played with.
  • Verify: Create prototypes that are low cost and test your idea with potential customers, go back and make changes if necessary, ask more questions and make new observations.