Monday, April 4, 2011

DMAIC, the Power Drill

In previous posts, I wrote about the virtues of "Quick PDCA" and "Barn-Raising Kaizen."  It's obvious I favor approaches that have a bias for action.  But does that mean I'm averse to more methodical approaches such as the DMAIC approach as practiced by Six Sigma Black Belts?  Absolutely not.

As I mentioned in the "Barn-Raising Kaizen" article:
"Some repairs call for a hammer, and others call for a power drill.  It depends on the problem we're trying to solve, the information that is available, the stakeholders involved, and a whole lot more.  My suggestion is that we should not lock ourselves into any one way of bringing about improvement.  Use what works for whatever situation is presented."
 I think DMAIC is an awesome approach in certain types of situations:

  • Some problems are better analyzed through data analysis and statistics, something which is at the heart of DMAIC
  • Some organizations require that any and all projects show a measurable and verifiable ROI...something which is embedded in the DMAIC approach
  • Some managers want projects in their departments to have a formal structure and mandatory gate reviews...which also is embedded in the DMAIC approach

There are many situations that call for the power drill that is DMAIC instead of the hammer that is Quick PDCA/Barn-Raising Kaizen.  Of course, many situations can be handled just as well by either approach.  I just think we have to pick the tool that makes the most sense for the situation.

Stay open-minded.  Be flexible.  See the scientific method in both the hammer and the power drill.