Put the C back in DMAIC

Improvement Insights Blog

Put the C back in DMAIC

Many improvement projects fail after a few months because teams forget to put the C in DMAIC. Here’s what’s missing and what to do about it:


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

“I normally talk to you about improvement stuff, but today I want to talk to you about something I keep seeing, which is: People make improvements and then six months later they’re gone. Make an improvement, six months later they they’re gone.

“We need to put the C back in DMAIC: the Control phase. Now, why don’t people do this piece? I mean if you’re going to spend all that energy to make an improvement, why aren’t you going to do the little bit extra it takes to sustain the improvement? I believe that we’ve actually made it kind of annoying for people. They don’t like the [term] “statistical process control.” They don’t like the word “control,” they don’t like control charts, and they think it’s all going to be too complex and too hard and too “mathy” and too formulaic and… oh my gosh. They get exhausted. But if you’re not going to sustain the improvement and put in a system to control and monitor and take corrective action if it starts to drop, then you shouldn’t bother to make the improvement to begin with.

“Now with the QI Macros, we have all these fill-in-the-blank control chart templates: you just put in your data point each day, each hour, each week, each whatever, and guess what? The chart just grows as you go. Then you can do the analysis, run stability analysis, figure out if there’s anything going on in your data or not. If there’s nothing going on, leave it alone unless you’re trying to improve it somehow. That’s the great thing about a control chart: It’ll tell you if you’re just going along nice and normal. It’ll tell you if you’re going one way or the other way, and it’ll tell you those things.

“I think that we have to put the C in DMAIC. Not back in it, but put the C in DMAIC. it can’t just be DMAI, right? (I’m not even sure you need the D and the M’s) But let’s put the C back in DMAIC. Let’s get that Control phase going, and then when you go out and improve something it’ll stay there.

“That’s my Improvement Insight this week. Let’s go out and sustain the improvement. Let’s create a hassle free America.”


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