Six SigmaTroubleshooter Vs Problem Solver

Troubleshooter Vs Problem Solver

Arun was a Regional Head for Channel Expansion & Relationship for a white goods manufacturer. This year he received an award for outstanding performance for a record appointment of new channel partners (distributors and retailers) in a region that was considered as a weak territory for the company. The CEO said that this was a recognition of his problem solving skills. 

It all started last year with the company setting an ambitious target to expand its network. In the first 2 quarters, there wasn’t much break through in the channel appointment. Management decided to move Arun from another region to drive this goal. Arun is known as a messiah in the company. Whether it is revenue, market share growth, network expansion, new product penetration, he is known for miraculous improvements. He could turn deserts into oases. His patrons say he’s very systematic and focused. While his critics claim he micromanages things. Nonetheless, as predicted, within the remaining 2 quarters of the FY, Arun swiftly throttled the appointment of dealers and distributors, thereby exceeding the original annual target set, which at the end of 2nd quarter looked un-accomplishable. Management’s aspiration was nothing more than achieving half the annual target set in the beginning of the year, with only 2 quarters in hand. So messiah proved his metal again!

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What did Arun do differently?

Though all this might sound very intrusive, the fact is he got it done!

All is not rosy about Arun. There is one minor problem in our Messiah. Whenever he is done and moves to another role or area, all the old problems crop up again. Arun used to take pride in this, that once he leaves things fall flat. He was sure this is a way to let the management realize his value. 

Was Arun really a good problem solver? Or is he a trouble-shooter?

Trouble-shooter Problem Solver
Always fixing the performance is his/her goalDefines what is really the problem to be solved
Provides short term fixes Identifies the root causes of the problem
Focuses on improvement in outputValidates system level root causes with facts or data
Doesn’t openly share insights & only emphasizes on prognosisShares his/her findings & insights with others
Works in silos & uses his charisma as a leverageEngages the stakeholders on ground to provide eradicate the problem permanently
Usually gives quick fixes as such solutions give results fasterPuts permanent solutions that are sustainable
Cadence is limited to his tenureCreate cadence to sustain the improved state beyond him
Keeps his team in suspense, fear & pressureMakes it a Team Oriented Problem Solving (TOPS) approach

I will allow you to decide where Arun fits better.

After all, he never examined why this territory had low network penetration? What is the perception of existing and prospective channel partners about the brand? Are existing channel partners profitable and satisfied? Is channel partner attrition a problem? What is it that the competitors are doing differently than us? What is the deficiency of channel management team in this region?

At best, he is a good mercenary.

More importantly, not everyone who gets things done are problem solvers. Simply put, true Problem Solvers leave everything a little better for others than they found it!

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Is there a difference between Six Sigma and Lean Six Sigma?

Lean and Six Sigma are close cousins in the process improvement world and they have lot of commonalities. Now we will talk about the difference between Six Sigma and Lean Six Sigma.

Six Sigma uses a data centric analytical approach to problem solving and process improvements.  That means, there would be time and effort in data collection and analysis. While this sounds very logical to any problem solving approach, there can be practical challenges.

For example, some times we may need data and analysis to be even prove the obvious. That is lame.

On the other hand, Lean Six Sigma brings in some of the principles of Lean. Lean is largely a pragmatic and prescriptive approach. Which implies that we will look at data and practically validate that problem and move on to prescriptive solutions.

Thus combining Lean with Six Sigma, helps in reducing the time and effort needed to analyze or improve a situation. Lean will bring in a set of solutions that are tried and tested for a situation. For example, if you have high inventory, that Lean would suggest you to implement Kanban.

Lean is appealing because most often it simplifies the situation and that may not be always true with Six Sigma.  However the flip side to Lean is that if the system have been improved several times and reached a certain level of performance and consistency, Lean can bring out any further improvement unless we approach the problem with Six Sigma lens, using extensive data collection and analysis.

Looking at the body of knowledge of Six Sigma and Lean Six Sigma, you will find that Lean Six Sigma courses following tools:

To learn Free Lean Six Sigma Primer Certificate Course
To learn Green Belt Online Certification Course
To learn Black Belt Online Certification Course

Is Lean Six Sigma still relevant?

In the age of AI and ML, where everything is getting automated, why would any one need an approach will can improve the process.  Yes, mostly processes are set to become automated and that means they are already optimized. Will there at all be a need or scope to improve them any further?

Lets now look at how digital transformation is going and its adoption across sectors:

Lean Six Sigma is a way to challenge status quo, a way to solving problems and make improvements.

With AI and ML, neither will the need to challenge status quo or solve a problem or make improvements go away. In fact they will become even more challenging. That would mean, the need for Lean Six Sigma tools and techniques will be all the more important.

No Digital transformation commences without a good As-is analysis. The tools and techniques used for performing this are tools used in Lean and Six Sigma. Similarly, identifying how much improvement can be brought about requires going to the root of the problem. Technology solutions that are superficial will only add to the complexity and not simplify the business.

Thus even skills needed for Digital Transformation are part of Lean Six Sigma body of knowledge.

To be very specific, Lean Six Sigma Certifications will definitely be an added advantage in days to come which are dominated by AI, ML and Digital transformation.

To know more about Lean Six Sigma certification Courses
To learn Green Belt Online Certification Course
To learn Black Belt Online Certification Course

Six Sigma has evolved as a management discipline for improving processes, and providing customer delight. Some organizations like GE had adopted Six Sigma as their management philosophy. So, Why Six Sigma? Why not follow other approaches like TQM, SCM, COPC, ISO, etc. Let’s understand why many organizations choose Six Sigma over other approaches; and how they benefited. There are 3 key salient features of Six Sigma that are noteworthy:

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Customer Centricity

While the emphasis on building business processes to meet customer requirements was first proposed by Joseph Juran & Edward Deming (fathers of modern Quality movement);  it was taken seriously only with the advent of Six Sigma. Gathering the Voice of Customer and translating these requirements into product features, aka Quality Function Deployment (QFD), were loosely used in TQM. Whereas, in Six Sigma Voice of Customers (VOC) is the starting point. Operational measures and performance measures (KPIs) are built based on VOC. These measures are called as CTQ (Critical To Quality). Customers’ needs constantly change. Such changing needs mean that processes also need to adapt and evolve. Six Sigma enables achieving this adaptation. While creating a new product or service line; the entire system is built to meet customer requirements. Such an approach is called as Design for Six Sigma (DFSS).

Process Orientation

Six Sigma builds strong process orientation within the organization. In Six Sigma, virtually every department, activity, or task is perceived as a process in itself or process step. What does that mean? It means a lot! Every process produces few outputs, and in turn; requires few inputs. Outputs are consumed by Customers (internal or external); and inputs are provided by Suppliers. Such visualization is called as SIPOC in Six Sigma. This helps organizations to move away from the mind-set of fixing people when things don’t work; to fixing processes. In order to improve the outputs of any process or department, its process steps and inputs needs to be improved, and sometimes suppliers need to be educated. People are never penalized in Six Sigma! Traditionally many industries & functions are regarded as ‘people’ driven. For instance, industries such as Hospitality, Entertainment & most service lines and functions such as HR, Marketing, Sales, Admin. Six Sigma organizations treat these as just another process. As a result, the dependency on individuals is also reduced. Organizational silos are challenged and processes are simplified. Driving strong process orientation across the organization has resulted in unbelievable tangible and intangible benefits to customers and organizations. GE is a pioneer in driving process orientation in its Financial Service businesses.

Fact Based Decision Making

Once organizations establish process orientation; access to data and factual information will increase. This presents the next big opportunity for organizations. Across levels, organizations are dependent on their managers to take right decisions. Most often, these decisions are punctuated by decision maker’s bias and personal intuition. Wrong decisions are costly and usually borne by the organization. Six Sigma’s bouquet of tools enables data or fact based decision making. This means the overall management is much more efficient and accurate. DMAIC, an acronym for Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve and Control, is a method used for solving problems. There are over 50 qualitative and quantitative tools which are part of DMAIC. These tools can be applied in several stand-alone situations too. These tools enable data or fact based decision making. At a personal level, an individual practicing Six Sigma over a period time is more efficient and effective than her peers. This has direct impact on career and growth prospects. Thus Six Sigma is a powerful approach which is not only beneficial to organizations; but also to individuals. If you are interested in Six Sigma Certification Courses, visit our products page. Click here

Six Sigma & Project Management are two high trending topics of interest among professionals and organizations today. While Six Sigma is a management approach, project management principles instill the rigor of execution. Whatever is the nature of your business, innovation is critical today. In order to survive competition and be the customers’ choice, you need to come up with really new products and services.
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All it means is that your change management ability is a direct measure of your success. In other words, timely launch of new products/services in desired quality and price are going to determine your success; apart from the cultural change aspect. So whether you want it or not, good project management skills are essential in today’s business to survive and win. Without digressing on other pre-requisites of good project management, let’s focus on one of most important but rarely focused area. There are several project management techniques and tools available, such as: CPM, PERT, and Critical Chain. Immaterial of the base on which these models are structured, out of my experience, everything finally boils down to predicting the time duration for a task and delivery as predicted. In small organizations (less than 10 employees), it is more of coordination, multi-tasking, and communication that will determine if a task can be completed as predicted. But with organizations involving a few hundreds of employees, it is all about how resources and efforts are synchronized. There may be lack of knowledge of what is to be done next, on who owns which piece, how & when to escalate, and lack of clarity on authority & decision making. Additionally, unlike big organizations, smaller companies will have to manage with inexperienced and understaffed scenarios. So to make life easy for everyone; if processes associated with project management such as supply chain management processes, finance processes, clearly defined inter-department service levels and authorities, etc., are established well; it will help the organization deliver projects in time. Isn’t this what ‘Process Orientation’ is all about! Strong Process Orientation: one of the key foundations of Six Sigma is responsible for success in most project based industries. Mathematically also it makes sense to focus on process orientation. For instance, consider the PERT model in which the PERT Time (Task duration) is a function of Optimistic Time (OT), Most Likely Time (MLT), and Pessimistic Time (PT). When OT and PT are wide apart, it means that it is not possible to predict the task duration accurately. In other words, the process on which the task is dependent has high variation. Such a process leads to higher PERT Time. When all the tasks of a project have widely spread OTs and PTs, the overall project duration itself will be high and unpredictable.

As a business analyst you are often expected to act as a bridge between a functional domain and the business stakeholders. Business analysts must be great verbal and written communicators, tactful diplomats, problem solvers, thinkers and analyzers. Though you have been extensive training in project management and related areas, using systematic business and management tools such as graphical analysis, data distribution & visualization, statistical discovery, etc are considered to be difficult by many Business Analysts.

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Fortunately Lean Six Sigma, which is process improvement methodology provides many of the tools that can  be handy for Business Analysts at one place. It comprises of statistical tools and techniques along with visualization tools.  There are many tools such as Visual Analysis & Data Discovery tools like Fish-bone, 5 why, in scope-Out scope, Box plots and analytical tools like MSA, Descriptive Statistics, Variation, Correlation and Regression. They are explained in brief as under: Visual Tools: There are many tools which a business analyst will learn from Lean Six Sigma Green Belt Certification. We’ll talk about few Visual analysis tools from Lean Six Sigma in brief as under:

Analytical Tools: Here are few examples of data discovery analytical tools that a Business Analyst will learn from Six Sigma.

A business analyst having Green Belt Certification shall have a comprehensive understanding of Lean six sigma and shall be able to apply its tenets to their daily work. The principles of Six Sigma are so widely applicable that employees getting trained are highly valued and aggressively sought after. Lean Six Sigma Certification will be a stepping stone for professionals to a higher level as you avail expertise in different problem solving tools and techniques of Lean Six Sigma.

As we all know that there are different levels of certification in Lean Six Sigma and these levels have been associated with “Belt” titles. It’s a very obvious question that why the levels here have been associated with the titles used in Martial Arts? That is because of the association of discipline and rigor in Lean Six Sigma similar to the martial arts. You would find four commonly used belt titles in Six Sigma Certification and they are Yellow Belt, Green Belt, Black Belt and Master Black Belt. However, the most basic level in Lean Six Sigma is sometimes called as “White Belt”. A White Belt understands the theoretical aspects but virtually no application knowledge of the Lean Six Sigma concept. One could say this is an entry level awareness program. Let us understand one by one, the four belts mentioned above.

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  1. Yellow Belt: A Yellow Belt is someone who has undergone a basic training program that is may be a day’s training with a basic level of understanding of the quantitative part of the concept. He or she is able to appreciate the goals of Lean Six Sigma. Having knowledge of Yellow Belt level means that person is able to apply basic tools in the company and undertake simple improvement projects. Usually the organization who wants to implement Lean Six Sigma wants all their employees to be at least Yellow Belt trained as this makes the implementation and change management easier and faster.
  1. Green Belt: Lean Six Sigma Green Belt receives a training of at least one week with emphasis on DMAIC method and tools. DMAIC is problem solving methodology which stands for Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve,and Control through which he/she is able to undertake improvement projects in his/her process which improves customer satisfaction and efficiency of the process. Green Belts are also called as “Work Horses” having the following responsibilities:
  • Initial analysis of company like Gemba Walk and Data Analysis which will be helpful in defining the road map of the project.
  • Define the project and prepare the project charter.
  • All over co-ordination with management, yellow belts, black belts and master black belts.
  • Facilitate the team through all phases of the project.
  • Provide training to the team for effectiveness of the implementation.
  1. Black Belt: A black belt is someone who receives at least 3 to 4 weeks of extensive training with the emphases on DMAIC method and tools which is explained as above. Unlike a green belt, black belt is a full time role who has the responsibility to run large scale high impact improvement projects where he mentors and coaches green belts. Responsibilities of a black belt are listed as under:
  • Helps in deciding the project.
  • Helps in refining the project charter and makes sure that the things are moving in the desired direction.
  • Leads, mentors and coaches green and yellow belts and champions.
  • Empowers the team members to design experiments and analyse the data required for the project.
  • Provide training in tools and team functions to project team members.
  • Makes sure that the project succeeds.
  • Maintains balance between Management, Employees and Customer’s needs.
  • Manages the team for effectiveness and efficiency.
  1. Master Black Belt: It is usually a leadership role having excellent change management skills along with having good technical knowledge. After completion of the black belt course and having good experience he/she receives additional 3 to four weeks of training mostly around change management and statistics. MBB’s primary role is to deploy six sigma concepts in the organization, advice to executives or business unit managers, and leverages, his/her skills with projects that are led by black belts and green belts. A Master Black Belt reports the senior or top management and coaches the black belts and Green Belts. Responsibilities of Master Black Belts are enumerated as under:
  • Provides guidance to senior executives and top level managers on Six Sigma management.
  • Help identify and prioritize key project areas in keeping with strategic initiatives.
  • Continually improve and innovate the organization’s Six Sigma process.
  • Apply Six Sigma across both operations and transactions-based processes such as Sales, HR, IT, Facility Management, etc.
If you want to start your journey in Lean Six Sigma, its best you start by understanding some of the basics of Lean Six Sigma. Our Lean Six Sigma Primer Course is Free and it gives a great deal of information on Six Sigma. From there on you could more to Yellow Belt and Green Belt. This approach is pragmatic because it optimizes your investment of resources, time and effort.

Have you ever confronted a situation doing hard work the whole day and at the end you realize that most of the time had been given by you and your team to the Non Value Added things!  

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One of the important aspects of the leadership in today’s competitive world is Prioritization. It helps to save time and money as you will be able to focus on what is important at the expense of lower value activities. Prioritizing skills are your ability to see what tasks are more important at each moment and give those tasks more of your attention, energy, and time. We all have so much on hand to do and really speaking so much time to finish the things up. But we lack the skill to manage our work with the time. We mostly forget to take up the important things first and less significant work later. Instead, we do completely opposite to this. This is human nature as we all do the same thing in our day to day lives. This issue is pertinent not only at an individual level, but even at organizational level. Organizations focus on the wrong reasons or causes and waste a lot of effort to solve a problem or improve their business. How to improve upon it? Lean Six Sigma teaches a very useful technique of prioritization to overcome this problem which is a mother of our all the other problems. Pareto Analysis is based on 80/20 rule which says that our 20% efforts (out of the whole 100%) will give 80% of the benefits. This can be interpreted in many different ways like, for sales people 80% of the orders will come from the 20% of the customers, for team managers 20% people of the whole team shall give 80% of the work or results. Here, we should keep in mind that this doesn’t mean that the rest 20% is not important at all but can be said as less significant. To generalize, 80% of the problem is caused by 20% of the reasons! Thus using the Pareto principle, we can derive maximum impact with minimum effort and within short time span, if we focus on the right factors. Simple it is, right? Before understanding the benefits of Pareto Analysis there are certain facts to be known about it. They are as under:
  • This principle was developed in the year 1896 and is named after Vilfredo Pareto who was an Italian engineer, sociologist, economist, political scientist, and philosopher.
  • Pareto derived this concept by his work and experience and observed that 80% of the wealth in Italy belonged to 20% of the people.
  • In the year 1941, Dr, Joseph Juran who was an evangelist of quality and quality management as he was an engineer and a management consultant cam across the concept of Pareto Principle. He then started applying the principle in the quality and derived a phrase through experience that is “there are vital few and useful many”.
  • The Pareto Principle can be implemented in many different aspects such as in science, management, business, in software, in sports, occupational health and safety, financial service industry, and implementing projects which says that put 80% of your time in 20% of your project which will save a lot of your time and energy.
  • Pareto principle can be graphically represented by Pareto Chart that contains bothbars and a line graph, where individual values are represented in descending order by bars, and the cumulative total is represented by the line.
With an example given as under you will be able to understand why to focus on significant few: Our Online Lean Six Sigma Green Belt Certification course teaches you step by step procedure to construct a pareto chart, different pareto variants and how to interpret them. More importantly it covers when and when not to apply pareto principle. Benefits of Pareto Analysis:
  1.  Improved Decision Making: With a focus on resolving problems, the procedures and processes required to make the changes should be documented during a Pareto analysis. This documentation will enable better preparation and improvements in decision making for future changes.
  1. Increased Efficiency: Once the changes or problems are listed, they are ranked in order from the biggest to the least severe. The problems ranked highest in severity should become the main focus for problem resolution or improvement. Focusing on causes and problem resolution contributes to organizational efficiency.
  2. Enhanced Problem Solving Technique: Members of a group can conduct a Pareto analysis together. Arriving at a group consensus about the issues that require change fosters organizational learning and increases group cohesiveness. Lean Six Sigma Green Belt Certification course shall help the individuals of the company learn many tools along with Pareto Analysis which shall also help him or her to boost their careers.
  3. Saves Time and Money: Doing right things at the right time with right people and at the right place is naturally going to save time and money and this has to be calculated by multiplying the time with the number of individuals involved in the process.

DFSS and DMAIC are two of the methodologies commonly used by organizations to implement. Six Sigma. Organizations with well-developed Six Sigma programs also run DMAIC and DFSS projects concurrently.

Feature Description
  • DMAIC: Improving the existing products and services or processes.
  • DFSS: Developing new products and services or processes or redesigning them.
Nature of the project
  • DMAIC: Projects are easier and faster and provide early gains.
  • DFSS: Projects take longer to implement and benefits are visible only in the long run.
  • DMAIC: Projects are related to manufacturing, transactional processes, or enabling processes.
  • DFSS: Projects also include product design.
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Checksheet for Process Design in Manufacturing Organization

Following are some of the important steps involved in Process Design in Manufacturing Organizations. It can also serve as a check sheet if you are commencing process design in your organization.

Following are some of the important steps involved in Process Design in Service Organizations. It can also serve as a check sheet if you are commencing process design in your organization.

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