How to Craft an Improvement Story
In 1975, I went to work at Bell Laboratories in New Jersey. I was introduced to Unix and the Shell programming language. The cool thing about Shell was the hundreds of tools that each did simple things and could be cobbled together into scripts that would do amazingly complex things. I later wrote a book, Unix Shell Programming, that described my love affair with Shell.
Fast forward 20 years and I brought the same thinking that I’d learned from Unix Shell to Six Sigma. The QI Macros have hundreds of templates filled with a variety of worksheets to do many things. I wanted the same ability I had with Shell in Six Sigma. I wanted to be able to cobble together complex tools and improvements.
Excel, by its nature, starts with a workbook that can include many pages. By selecting various worksheets from QI Macros templates I’ve been able to build complex dashboards and improvement stories without a lot of work. I just use the fill-in-the-blanks simplicity of the template to tell whatever story I need to tell.
Improvement Stories Follow Traditional Story Outlines
A control chart tells the story of current performance. A Pareto chart tells the story of where the problem resides. (Note:, sometimes it is the histogram that tells the story of unwanted variation.) Then a team of experts explore the root causes of the problem and document their journey with a fishbone diagram. The team then creates a countermeasures matrix and action plan to implement improvements. Then the team validates the improvement using a control chart, Pareto chart or histogram.
You can use charts generated by the QI Macros or a chart template to analyze the data. Then, by right clicking on the worksheets involved, you can move the charts and diagrams into a single Excel workbook that tells the story, worksheet by worksheet, step-by-step. No need for PowerPoint, just use Excel.
Of course, sustaining the improvement will require ongoing measuring and monitoring which are easily handled by one of the control chart templates.
What kind of improvement projects can you cobble together using the QI Macros templates?