Blog posts and articles about using Fishbone diagram brainstorming methods in quality improvement.

In Part 1 of my A New Spin on the "Stand in a Circle" Exercise blog, I described how Taiichi Ohno, the creator of the Toyota Production System, used the “Stand in a Circle” exercise to help managers identify waste in their operations.  During this exercise Ohno would take a manager or student to the shop floor, draw a chalk circle on the floor, then have them stand inside the circle and observe an... Continue Reading
If you’re familiar with Lean Six Sigma, then you’re familiar with DMAIC. DMAIC is the acronym for Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve and Control. This proven problem-solving strategy provides a structured 5-phase framework to follow when working on an improvement project. This is the first post in a five-part series that focuses on the tools available in Minitab Statistical Software that are most... Continue Reading
While many Six Sigma practitioners and other quality improvement professionals like to use the Fishbone diagram in Companion for brainstorming because of its ease of use and integration with other Companion by Minitab tools, some Minitab users find an infrequent need for a Fishbone diagram. For the more casual user of the Fishbone diagram, Minitab has the right tool to get the job done. Minitab’s... Continue Reading
The Pareto chart is a graphic representation of the 80/20 rule, also known as the Pareto principle. If you're a quality improvement specialist, you know that the chart is named after the early 20th century economist Vilfredo Pareto, who discovered that roughly 20% of the population in Italy owned about 80% of the property at that time. You probably also know that the Pareto principle was... Continue Reading
I left off last with a post outlining how the Six Sigma students at Rose-Hulman were working on a project to reduce the amount of recycling thrown in the normal trash cans in all of the academic buildings at the institution. Using the DMAIC methodology for completing improvement projects, they had already defined the problem at hand: how could the amount of recycling that’s thrown in the normal trash... Continue Reading
The Six Sigma students at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology are at it again! A few months back, we blogged about the Six Sigma project they did to reduce food waste at the on-campus dining center. This time, the students—lead by Dr. Diane Evans, Six Sigma black belt and associate professor of mathematics at Rose-Hulman—are performing a Lean Six Sigma project to reduce the amount of recycling... Continue Reading
I wrote a post a few years back on the difficulties that can ensue when you’re just trying to get started on your Lean Six Sigma or quality improvement initiative. It can become especially difficult when you have many potential projects staring at you, but you aren’t quite sure which one will give you the most bang for your buck. A project prioritization matrix can be a good place to start when you... Continue Reading
For me, the biggest enhancement in Minitab 17 is the addition of Design of Experiments (DOE) to the Assistant. DOE in the Assistant has so many exciting aspects it’s hard to take it all in at once, but here are 5 highlights for when you plan and create a screening experiment: 1. Just-in-time guidance If you’re lucky, you’ve had the chance to study DOE with an expert. If not, even the flow chart... Continue Reading
Using data analysis and statistics to improve business quality has a long history. But it often seems like most of that history involves huge operations. After all, Six Sigma originated with Motorola, and became adopted by thousands of other businesses after it was adopted by a little-known outfit called General Electric. There are many case studies and examples of how big companies used Six Sigma... Continue Reading
I had the opportunity to speak with a great group of students from the New Jersey Governor’s School of Engineering and Technology—a summer program for high-achieving high school students. Students in the program complete a set of challenging courses while working in small groups on real-world research and design projects that relate to the field of engineering. Governor’s School students... Continue Reading
Here are seven quality improvement tools I see in action again and again. Most of these quality tools have been around for a while, but that certainly doesn’t take away any of their worth! The best part about these tools is that they are very simple to use and work with quickly in Minitab Statistical Software or Companion, but of course you can use other methods, or even pen and paper. 1. Fishbone... Continue Reading
I recently had the opportunity to talk with Ken Jones, professor of operations and supply chain management at Indiana State University, about a business process improvement course he teaches at the university. The course covers a variety of Lean Six Sigma tools and techniques and gives students the opportunity to team with local businesses to complete real quality improvement projects. Upon... Continue Reading
You know the drill…you’re in Six Sigma training and you’re learning how to conduct a design of experiment (DOE). Everything is making sense, and you’ve started thinking about how you’ll apply what you are learning to find the optimal settings of a machine on the factory floor. You’ve even got the DOE setup chosen and you know the factors you want to test … Then … BAM! … You’re on your own and you... Continue Reading
When I want to analyze data, I want my statistical software to give me the options I want, when I want them. I want a menu that's perfectly suited to my needs. Maybe even a toolbar that gives me instant access to the tools I use most frequently.  That's not too much to ask, is it?  Look, you can't argue with nature. I'm a cat, which means I want things my way. If my human puts something (like a... Continue Reading
Thanks for visiting my blog. My name is Marlowe, and I'm a cat who learned about Six Sigma, quality improvement, and data analysis from hanging around my houseperson when he was working on his master's degree in applied statistics.  He's not as smart as a cat, but he's reasonably sharp for a human. However, he sometimes forgets to turn off his laptop at night, and when he does, I like to jump in... Continue Reading
Now that we’ve learned enough about design of experiments to understand the experimental designs that Minitab offers, it’s time  to consider which we should use to study the gummi bears. We'll consider the designs in the same order that we did in the earlier blog posts: General full factorial designs Split-plot designs Plackett-Burman designs What Type of Design do I Need? Here's a series of... Continue Reading
I brainstorm quite frequently in my job—whether I’m trying to come up with topics that are “blog worthy” or if I’m thinking of a creative way to write content promoting a new feature of Minitab. Sometimes I brainstorm alone, and sometimes I brainstorm with others during a meeting. Sometimes I brainstorm in a structured way by sharing ideas with colleagues in a circle, and sometimes I just throw... Continue Reading
Having spent some time figuring out what to do with the different variables for our gummi bear experiment, it’s time to get into Design of Experiments with Minitab. Opening Stat > DOE > Factorial > Create Factorial Design presents you with 5 options to choose from immediately: The dialog box is helpfully explaining that some of these designs are for different numbers of factors. For example, if you... Continue Reading
If you pay close attention to this series on using gummi bears to understand design of experiments, you noticed that in my last post I mentioned pressure as a variable for the first time. Pressure wasn’t on the fishbone diagram that I used when planning variables, even though it’s just as obvious as temperature and humidity. I’ve been referring to the fishbone diagram quite a bit, but I didn’t... Continue Reading
"There is a fifth dimension,beyond that which is known to man. It is a dimension as vast as space and as timeless as infinity. It is the middle ground between light and shadow, between science and superstition, and it lies between the pit of man's fears and the summit of his knowledge. This is the dimension of imagination. It is an area which we call...The Twilight Zone." In my last entry, I told... Continue Reading