Improvement Insights – Lean Six Sigma Moneybelt
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Latest "Improvement Insights" Posts

Making Quality Improvement More Contagious

Quality improvement isn’t very infectious, is it? What can we do to make it more contagious? As you can imagine, it can’t take weeks to catch the bug. Here’s a way to spread to idea faster.

“Hi, I’m Jay Arthur, author of “Lean Six Sigma Demystified” and QI Macros [software].

“I got to thinking about the pandemic: in COVID-19, for every one person that gets in infected, they infect like three other people. That’s why it’s such a problem, right? It’s much more infectious than even the flu is. I thought about that in terms of Quality Improvement. Whether you call it: Lean Six Sigma, Operational Excellence, Process Improvement… I don’t care what you call it, it’s Quality Improvement to me.

Posted by Jay Arthur in Improvement Insights, Jay Arthur Blog.

The Next Decimal Place

SPC software companies keep trying to gain some edge by tweaking the formulas for various statistics, but is the quest for the next decimal place of precision useful? If you’re trying to send a rocket to Mars? Absolutely. If you’re trying to tune up a business process, not really. Here’s why.

“Hi, I’m Jay Arthur, author of “Lean Six Sigma Demystified” and QI Macros [software]. I’m going to talk to you about what I call The Next Decimal Place.

“Because I’ve been in the software business, [I’ve seen] people and try and change formulas. Let’s say it’s Cp and Cpk. Well, we used to do the upper spec minus the lower spec over six standard deviations for CP, and guess what?

Posted by Jay Arthur in Improvement Insights, Jay Arthur Blog, Statistics.

Using Your Intuition to Stay Safe During the Pandemic

One of the challenges of the pandemic is the ongoing uncertainty. We know to wash our hands, mask our face and stay out of crowds. What can we do to take back some sense of control? Here’s what I’ve been doing.

For some of you, this may seem too “woo-woo” to digest. That’s okay. It’s just an insight from my other studies.

“Hi, I’m Jay Arthur, author of “Lean Six Sigma for Hospitals” and QI Macros [software].

“I don’t know about you, but this whole pandemic thing’s getting a little old, but we know two things for certain: 1 – More people will get sick, and 2 – More people will die.

Posted by Jay Arthur in Improvement Insights, Jay Arthur Blog.

Recessions Are Good For Quality

Recessions are a great time to improve quality. Here’s why:

“Hi, I’m Jay Arthur, author of “Lean Six Sigma Demystified” and QI Macros [software].

“Now [at first in] the pandemic, everybody projected that this was going to be one of the sharpest recessions in history, and then bounce right back. I think the ongoing concern about Coronavirus and everything else is actually going to slow that down a little bit.

“Well, one of the things I know from going through lots of recessions so far is that is the perfect time to take a step back from your business. When you take a step back from your business you can start to look at it and [think], “How can we make it faster, better, cheaper?

Posted by Jay Arthur in Improvement Insights.

Measure Success or Failures

Measure failures not success. Here’s why:

“Hi, I’m Jay Arthur, author of “Lean Six Sigma Demystified” and QI Macros [software].

“Recently one of our users called up and asked me about showing percent compliance. You know, present success (in this case it was neonatal intubations – this is for healthcare). But the goal obviously is to get to 100% first-time success at intubating a preemie, right? So that would be a good thing.

“Now what most people do is they try and focus on the success side of this, so if you’re down here, you want to get up that-a-way, right?

Posted by Jay Arthur in Improvement Insights.

You Don’t Need Formulas or Decision Trees

You don’t need to know Six Sigma Formulas or decision trees to make improvement. Here’s why:

“Hi, I’m Jay Arthur, author of “Agile Process Innovation; Hacking Lean and Six Sigma for Results.”

“Back when I got started in Quality (and maybe many of you), we had to learn formulas to calculate things for control charts and whatever. I spent five days in a control chart class learning how to calculate the formulas for every control chart manually. Now, that did not really teach me anything about the distributions underlying them, it taught me how to calculate them manually. What they didn’t tell us in that class is software can do that for you.

Posted by Jay Arthur in Improvement Insights.

Yankee Spirit Goal Setting

Yankee Spirit (50% reduction in delay, defects and deviation) is easy to achieve. It’s imperative. Here’s why:

“Hi, I’m Jay Arthur, author of “Lean Six Sigma for Hospitals” and QI Macros [software].

“When I first got started in Quality Improvement, our training folks talked about Yankee Spirit as a method of setting a goal. What’s Yankee Spirit? Well, Yankee Spirit is simply a 50% reduction in delay, defects and deviation.

“Well, that just sounds like we’re just taking a dartboard throwing a thing at it, but it was years later that I realized that this is actually scientifically doable. As I started to look at it, Pareto’s rule says 20% of what you do produces 80% of the waste, rework, lost profit, patient harm… whatever you want to call it.

Posted by Jay Arthur in Improvement Insights.

Trends Are Not Always Improvements

Line charts with trend lines can be misleading. They can provide a kind of “false positive” that implies improvement where there is none. Here’s why:

“Hi, I’m Jay Arthur, author of “Agile Process Innovation.”

“I go to all these trade shows and I see a lot of poster presentations but they’re using line charts and then they draw a trend line through them and then they say, “Oh, we made an improvement.” No you didn’t. If it doesn’t really fit the line very well, if your goodness-of-fit metric is less than 80%, I’m not buying it. But nobody gives me a goodness-of-fit metric called r-squared, they just show me a line graph or a bar chart and then they show a little line through it.

Posted by Jay Arthur in Improvement Insights.

Mammograms are a Type of Inspection

Breast Cancer is Rare, yet we subject women to mammograms to try to detect it. False positives are 20X higher than true positives. Deming said: “Cease dependence on inspection to achieve quality.”



“Hi, I’m Jay Arthur, author of “Lean Six Sigma Demystified,” “Lean Six Sigma for Hospitals,” and the QI Macros [software].

“I found another interesting item in Malcolm Gladwell’s book; again, it was in the back notes. They were talking about mammograms. Breast cancer itself is really rare, it’s like less than a half of 1% of women who get a mammogram actually have cancer, so it’s like looking for a needle in a haystack.

Posted by Jay Arthur in Improvement Insights.

Why Are People Using Line and Bar Charts, not Control Charts?

If you look at improvement project posters at quality conferences around the country, you’ll find that almost everyone is using Excel line and bar charts. Even after decades of Six Sigma training and association membership. What’s the hold up? Here’s my take:

“Hi, I’m Jay Arthur, author of “Lean Six Sigma Demystified” and QI Macros [software].

“Every year I look at lots of improvement posters and I keep wondering, “Why isn’t anyone using the tools of Quality?” Control charts, Pareto charts, histograms… Most of them are just using plain old Excel line and bar charts. Now it might be because they don’t know about the power and beauty and how easy it can be now to do Control charts, Pareto charts and fishbones.

Posted by Jay Arthur in Improvement Insights.