Quality Tools and Examples of using them in Improvement Projects

Improvement Insights Blog

Posts tagged "Quality Tools"

Using Theory of Constraints to Accelerate Lean Six Sigma

Theory of Constraints (TOC) can give us insights into how to accelerate Lean Six Sigma and get results in a day. Here’s how:



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

“You know, I’ve been around Quality for almost 30 years now; 30 years exactly, almost. If I think about it, it’s super cool… but why is it so slow and so unsticky? Why is it taking so long for it to get everywhere? I’ve come up with some theories about that.

“If you’re familiar with a technique called “Theory of Constraints,” there’s a whole process to figure out why things aren’t running as quickly as they should.

Posted by Jay Arthur in Improvement Insights, Six Sigma.

ASQ Boulder 2020-10-22 Section Web Meeting

Jay Arthur was the featured speaker for the 10/22/20 ASQ Boulder Section Web Meeting. His topic was “Agile Approach to Lean Six Sigma.” You may view the video of Jay’s webinar below:



If you’re interested in learning more about QI Macros for Excel (the software Jay wrote and developed), click HERE and view the demo video in the yellow box. You may also sign up for a free 30 day trial of the software by filling out the form on that page next to the video, or by signing up at THIS link.

If you’re interested in learning more about Jay’s ideas on Agile Lean Six Sigma, you can download a free brief summary of Jay’s ideas in his “Agile Lean Six Sigma Manifesto,” available at THIS link.

Posted by Jay Arthur in Agile Lean Six Sigma, Webinar.

Embrace the Automatic Transmission

I learned to drive on a stick shift. Then automatic transmissions came along. What have you learned the hard way that has been simplified and automated? How much time and suffering could you save by embracing the automatic transmissions available in Quality Improvement?



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

“Now way back in the 60s when I was learning to drive (yes, I’m that old) they had the student [car], but it had a “three on the column” manual shift – an old Chevy Caprice or something like that.

Posted by Jay Arthur in Improvement Insights, Lean.

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, Six Sigma.

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, Lean, Six Sigma.

Is It Time to Rethink and Simplify Quality Improvement?

At the ASQ Lean Six Sigma Conference in Phoenix, keynoter Gregory Watson asked: “Is it time to rethink and simplify quality improvement?” I believe Agile is the answer:

“I was out at the ASQ Lean Six Sigma conference in Phoenix [earlier this year]. Dr. Gregory Watson, the keynote [speaker], was also the keynote [speaker] at the very first conference back in 2000. He said, “Is it time to start to rethink what we’re doing in Quality? Can we simplify what we’re doing?”

“I say the answer to that question is yes, obviously, because I’ve been talking about Agile Lean Six Sigma: How do we take the skills of Agile and apply them to Lean and Six Sigma so we can get results in a day or two; not in weeks and months and years.

Posted by Jay Arthur in Improvement Insights.

The Cost of Lean Six Sigma Training

Traditional Lean Six Sigma Training takes weeks when it’s possible to train people and get results in one day. Here’s why it costs so much to train people using last century strategies:

“I want to talk to you about the economics of a Six Sigma class.  All right, so as much as I hate pie charts, I’m going to use one to demonstrate this.  Let’s say you have a classroom and let’s say you have 20 odd people or something go in there.  Now, I can tell you in advance every class is filled with three types of people:  Prisoners, Vacationers and Learners. 

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

Are You Skipping Stones or Diving Beneath the Surface of Your Business?

Are you skipping Six Sigma stones across the surface of your business or are you finding people who take to it like a duck to water. People who can dive beneath the surface to find the invisible low-hanging fruit?

“Have you ever skipped a rock across a lake? Maybe the first time you threw it out there it just went “sploosh.” Then you figured out that flatter rocks skip better, so you started throwing them out and they’d go “skip-skip-sploosh,” or maybe get three or four or five “skip-skips” and “sploosh.”

“Then a duck came flying in, put out its landing gear and just kind of eased into the water.

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