Improvement Projects – Lean Six Sigma Moneybelt

Improvement Insights Blog

Posts tagged "Improvement Projects"

Airing Your Dirty Laundry

Have you ever noticed that no one wants to admit the problems in their life or work? It’s time to start airing our dirty laundry and here’s why:

“You know, I grew up in Tucson, Arizona and I think Tuesday was wash day. We had this washing machine that sat out on the back porch because it never got cold enough to freeze the hoses for the thing. It was a roller washing machine, so you had a big tub about the size of a keg of beer and it would do the wash, but then there was a set of rollers on top.

Posted by Jay Arthur in Healthcare, Improvement Insights, Manufacturing.

Doubt the Default Solution

All too often, improvement teams fail to question the default approach to doing business. They come up with countermeasures that simply parrot the status quo. I recently saw a TED talk on creativity. The presenter said: Doubt the Default. Sage advice. Here’s why:

“I saw an interesting TED talk this weekend. The professor was talking about creativity, and he used a phrase that I kind of liked. It’s “doubt the default.” Doubt the default. So whatever you’re doing right now is the default; doubt the default.

“Steve Jobs said “Hmm… you know, I don’t like these little tape cassette recorders.

Posted by Jay Arthur in Data Mining, Improvement Insights, QI Macros.

Become Part of the Prevention Factory

If you believe that Quality Improvement is all about finding and fixing special causes, you’re just part of the Fix-It Factory. Become part of the Prevention Factory.

“Hi, this is Jay Arthur. I’m here on Ka’anapali Beach in Maui taking a little vacation, but I was thinking about this: “I’ve talked to a lot of people and they seem to think that that they have all these meetings where they fix special causes and they think they’re doing Quality Improvement. They’re not. If you’re just fixing special causes, that’s part of the Fix-It Factory. You want to become part of the Prevention Factory.

Posted by Jay Arthur in Improvement Insights.

Six Sigma Dogma

When I started in quality improvement, everyone preached Total Quality Management (TQM). Before that it was quality circles. I’d like you to consider that the gospel of Six Sigma is holding back progress. Here’s why:

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

“The other day I was [presenting] a webinar for one of the ASQ sections; I’ve been doing Agile Lean Six Sigma webinars for the Agile sections that want something to do during this pandemic. One of the guys said, “Well, you’re sort of telling me that that we don’t need Green Belts and Black Belts to do a project.

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

Work ON your business, not IN it.

COVID-19 has slowed business for much of the nation. Here’s how you can make use of the time:

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

“I don’t know about you, but with this COVID virus thing going around, business has slowed a little bit, but that’s great! That gives us an opportunity to start to focus and work ON our business, not IN our business. Now is the time to start to find ways to simplify, streamline, optimize everything that you do so that when things come back on you’ll be ready for it and you’ll be faster, better, cheaper than you ever were before.

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

1/8/19 QI Macros Webinar

Almost 50 people signed up for this webinar, with Jay Arthur demonstrating how to use some of the useful features of QI Macros, as well as some of the new features introduced in recent versions of the software.

Some attendees were familiar with the software and already use it, some had only begun to use it; all were interested in learning new ways that QI Macros can help them with their Agile Lean Six Sigma and Quality Improvement efforts. (You can hear him answering questions and comments typed in by webinar attendees.)

If you saw a feature demonstrated in the webinar that might have been added to QI Macros after the version you’re using (for instance, the “Find Tool” search feature or the automated Value Stream Map), you may need to purchase an upgrade to bring your QI Macros to the current version.

Posted by Jay Arthur in Data Mining, Excel, QI Macros, Webinar.

Making Process Improvements Stick

The Nov-Dec 2018 HBR reports that Lean, Six Sigma and Agile “always work well initially, but often the gains fade quickly.”

  • 21% of improvement projects failed to yield any improvements
  • Only one-third of improvements continued to yield results after two years.

What’s needed to sustain improvements?

  • Consistent measurement and monitoring (i.e., control charts)
  • Leadership support and coaching
  • Avoid initiative fatigue caused by jumping from one improvement initiative to another.

Start monitoring your improvement projects using QI Macros control charts.
Download a free trial at

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

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.

Posted by Jay Arthur in QI Macros, Six Sigma.

VA Response Times

I have worked with various VA Medical Centers and the people I have worked with are committed to providing the best care, but the recent debacle makes everyone question everything.

In 2003 I worked with Sioux Falls, SD VA Medical Center. At the time, they had the best response time in the country for veteran requests. It was only 140 days, so response times have improved, but not as much as we would like.

The team met for two days. Most of the time was spent:

  • Checking the veteran’s records to confirm that their complaint matched their records (e.g., could it have been caused by falling out a Huey in Vietnam?).

Posted by Jay Arthur in Lean, Service, Six Sigma.

Magnet Improvement Posters

Last week, we exhibited at the Magnet conference for nursing quality. Every healthcare quality conference has posters about improvement projects: Magnet, NAHQ, and IHI. What struck me about these posters was the shortage of quality tools like control charts, pareto charts and fishbone diagrams. Those posters using charts often used the incorrect type of chart for the data.

Here’s an example. This chart has so many lines on it, how can you tell what story they are trying to tell?

Injury Falls

Here’s an example using a bar chart (instead of a line graph) and the dates are in reverse order:

Bar Chart

Here’s another bar chart with the dates in the correct order, but again, time series charts like this one should be shown as a line, run or control chart.

Posted by Jay Arthur in Six Sigma.