Six Sigma Blog by Jay Arthur

Improvement Insights Blog

Latest "Six Sigma" Posts

Run from Run Charts to Control Charts

Consultants spend a lot of time teaching people how to create run charts. This assumes you’re starting up a new measurement from scratch. Not true. There’s more than enough data laying around to use with control charts which tell you so much more about performance. Here’s why:



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

“When I attend some of these meetings, people spend a lot of time trying to teach run charts. “Well, when you have fewer than 15 data points, use a run chart.” Well, I want to suggest to you if you don’t have 15 data points, go find some data that does, all right?

Posted by Jay Arthur in Improvement Insights, Six Sigma.

How to Ensure the Adoption of Countermeasures

Ever wondered why it’s so hard to propagate improvements from one group to the next? Here’s why and what to do about it:



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

“I was recently at one of the IHI presentations at their conference and they mentioned… “How long does it take for medicine to adopt a new practice?” On average it’s 17 years… 17 years. Doesn’t that sound ridiculous? I think penicillin was 25 years, and some of the other things… but 17 years?

“They say, “Well, you know, we haven’t peer reviewed that, so we have to peer review it so we can confirm that your hypothesis is correct and that we can actually…” Right?

Posted by Jay Arthur in Agile Lean Six Sigma, Improvement Insights, Lean, Six Sigma.

Thriller Novel Insights for Improvement

Thrillers and detective novels always have two villains – -the bad guy and the internal bureaucracy. As a Quality Improvement hero, you will face the same problem. Here’s why and what to do about it:



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

“I’ll admit it: I like to read thriller novels. I do, right? I just find them terrific… or detective mystery novels. Invariably the good guy has to go combat some bad actor somewhere. It could be the murderer, it could be a terrorist, it could be whatever it is, but the good guy almost invariably also has to fight the bureaucracy of his police department, the CIA, the FBI, the… whatever the heck it is, right?

Posted by Jay Arthur in Improvement Insights, Lean, Six Sigma.

Creating a Quality Management System Piece by Piece

Some people think that Quality Management is an all or nothing event. Not true. Here’s why and how:



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

“Very often, people talk about creating a quality management system, but it’s as if you can create one from whole cloth. No, you can’t, right? Very often, most of your organization does not need full-blown quality management yet. I always say “start with the worst first,” and there’s a lot of research; Diffusion Of Innovations suggests that four percent of your business (or four steps out of 100, one step out of 25) is causing most of the mistakes, errors, waste, rework, lost profit, patient harm, whatever it is, right?

Posted by Jay Arthur in Improvement Insights, Lean, Six Sigma.

The Myth of the One Right Answer

In school, they always made you search for the one right answer. In real life, things are rarely that simple. There are often many right answers. Here’s how to choose the best among those:



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

“I don’t know about you, but in school – first grade all the way through college – it seemed like they were preaching that there was always one right answer to a question. You had to get that one right answer to be able to get a hundred percent on your test (unless it was an essay thing, and then that was a different thing).

Posted by Jay Arthur in Improvement Insights, Jay Arthur Blog, Lean, QI Macros, Six Sigma.

Getting Leadership Onboard with Control Charts

People often worry about how they are going to get their leadership on board with using control charts. It’s easy. Here’s how:



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

“I was on a presentation and I was watching Zoom and I was looking at the chat window to see what people were asking, and somebody said, “Well, how do I get my leadership team on board with using control charts?” I have a simple answer for that: Start using them. Right?

“The moment you start using control charts, your leadership team will say, “Oh, what’s that for, and what are these lines for?”

Posted by Jay Arthur in Improvement Insights, Six Sigma.

Line Charts with Trend Lines are often Fake News

Ever seen a line chart with a trend line that implies there was great improvement? Probably not. Here’s why:



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

“If you’re listening to anything in the news, they always talk about “fake news,” right? Fake news: somebody made stuff up. But in my experience, when I’m wandering around [seeing] all of these presentations and poster presentations at trade shows and stuff, I keep seeing all these line charts with trend lines in them. “Oh look! We have a trend line! It’s reducing whatever it is,” right?

Posted by Jay Arthur in Data Mining, Improvement Insights, Six Sigma.

Automating Decision Trees to Collapse The Control Chart Learning Curve

Words like “variable” and “attribute” confuse new students of quality improvement. But they need to know that to choose the right control chart using a decision tree don’t they? Not if you automate chart selection for them. Here’s how I did it:



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

“I don’t know about the rest of you, but I got started back in 1990, and that’s when I learned about control charts. Then I started trying to teach people about control charts… guess what? You start talking about ‘variable’ and ‘attribute’ and ‘sample sizes’ and you can watch everybody’s eyes slowly glaze over; it’s just fascinating to watch.

Posted by Jay Arthur in Improvement Insights, Lean, QI Macros, Six Sigma.

Stomp Out Fires When You See Them

Ever seen a puff of smoke rising from some debris? What did you do about it? The same is true in businesses; a small error in production can be put out quickly at the beginning. Become a volunteer firefighter in your company. Here’s how:



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

“A few years back I was at the American Society for Quality Audit Conference down in Memphis, Tennessee. We were staying at the Peabody Hotel where they have the famous duck walk at night, where the ducks come out and get into the pond.

Posted by Jay Arthur in Improvement Insights, Lean, Six Sigma.

The Jack Welch Effect

Jack Welch made Six Sigma big. Now it’s fading. How can we bring the sparkle back to Six Sigma?



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

“When I got started in my business back in the late 90s, Jack Welch was the CEO to copy. When he got dipped in Six Sigma, guess what? Every other CEO wanted to get dipped in Six Sigma too. This is what I call the Jack Welch Effect.

“Since then, Jack retired and [CEO] went over to [Jeff] Immelt and some other people, and now GE has fallen into some disarray, (not necessarily because of Six Sigma, I think because they let go of some of that), but other forces in the world were pushing them.

Posted by Jay Arthur in Improvement Insights, Six Sigma.