We’ve all experienced it: 10 or 15 co-workers sitting around a large wooden table…coffee steaming…notepads and pencils at the ready…a new project being presented... At some point, the project leader requests feedback or ideas from the group. Usually, someone will jump on the opportunity and immediately start voicing their opinion. Soon, whatever thoughts and questions you had start floating away as you listen to your colleague’s points.
I was interested to know why we experience this short-term memory loss, so I went online and found a PsyBlog post talking about how the phenomena is pretty common. PHEW! I’m not the only one!
After reading the article, I started to think about the different brainstorming tools we offer in Quality Companion software for Six Sigma and how the specific tool you choose might affect the outcome. I decided to investigate.
Suppose a family of four is trying to decide where to go for their summer vacation. One common Six Sigma group brainstorming tool they could use would be the Project Prioritization Matrix. In a Six Sigma initiative, the leadership team would use a Project Prioritization Matrix to rank potential projects both by their weighted benefits and their relative ease of completion.
To complete the Project Prioritization Matrix, the Smith family had to gather together and decide, as a group, what weight would be given for each destination. Below is an example of the Smiths' final matrix:
In addition to the matrix, Quality Companion’s Project Prioritization tool also provided a bar chart of the Projects (or “Destination”) by Weighted Value and an Ease of Completion graph. We can see that Grandma’s house just narrowly edged out going to the Baseball Hall of Fame:
There are other Six Sigma tools that can be used to reach a consensus. To avoid some of the perils of group decision making, the Smith family could have used an anonymous Ballot. Of the two ballots below, you can see Dad’s priority is leaning more toward finances whereas his son, Nolan, is thinking more about the “Fun Factor”.
When we take a look at the Smith family ballot results, the winner is the Baseball Hall of Fame, not Grandma’s House. Perhaps family members did not express their true feelings during the group meeting? Or maybe some members do not have a true grasp on some of the criteria such as, Distance or Cost? There are usually a lot of dynamics involved in making a group decision. Consider using more than one brainstorming tool in your Six Sigma project selection and the results could surprise you!