March, 2011

Volume 1, Number 3

In This Issue

·    We Heard You!

·    Waste Busters

·    Beware the Travelling Salesman

·    BLUF Your Way to a Better Presentation

·    Link of the Month

·    Which Statistical Software Should I Use?

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We Heard You!

Last month I invited readers to submit topics they would like to see in future articles.  Responses came in from around the world!  Some of the key areas readers would like covered include:

·         Cost reduction

·         Cycle-time reduction

·         Real-life examples of improvements

·         Features on quality tools

·         Excellence metrics

·         How creativity tools like “Six Hats” integrate with Six Sigma

These are all topics for upcoming recurring articles, so stay tuned.  This month we will share a few simple things you can do immediately to drive down costs in any organization. Thanks to all of you who took the time to share your thoughts.

The winner of our drawing for a copy of the new book “Driving Operational Excellence” is Rick Kistler of WorkflowOne.  Congratulations, Rick and thanks for your input! 

I invite you to keep this dialogue going.  At any point, please feel free to submit your feedback and ideas for articles.  Just click here.

Have an excellent month!


Jeff Cole


JCG Management Consulting

Waste Busters

Remember the good old days when companies had money?  When it seemed like management was ginned up and tossing around $100 bills like it was Mardi Gras? Well, maybe not that extreme…  Since the crash of ’08, we’ve all been cost conscious by necessity.  As part of our ongoing series on cost cutting, here is a simple and easy idea that has proven to be very effective:

·         Start a “Waste Busters” program where people submit ideas for trimming excesses out of the organization.  Tom Casperson led just such a program a few years back at NCR.  The results?  In a period of a little over a year, he received over 100 ideas that led to around $20 million in total cost savings over time.  Most of the suggestions were simple common-sense fixes to out of control policies or processes and didn’t “hurt” anyone.

·         Back in the days of the Honda Gold Wing motorcycle plant in Marysville Ohio, each employee had a performance objective to submit a predetermined number of improvement suggestions annually.  If their suggestion was implemented, that employee got a percentage of the money saved.

·         The top 5 key areas to consider when starting your program:  review committee, acceptance criteria, logging and tracking system, 2-way communications, reward and recognition.

·         These low-risk programs can pay for themselves within 30 days! 

Beware the Travelling Salesman

Beware the travelling salesman – but use his methods. What profession are you in?  Whether you realize it or not, we’re all in sales! You sell others on your ideas every day.  If you make a process improvement that causes people to do things differently, you are selling behavioral change!  If we’re all in sales, why not benchmark the best in the business and use their tools in our daily lives?

Hands-down, the masters of mass behavioral change are the guys on Madison Avenue – the advertisers.  This month, we take a look at a simple formula they have been using for over half a century to get you to buy their products.  It’s called AIDA and you can use it starting today to make your next change easier!   Read the full article here.

BLUF Your Way to a Better Presentation

Did you ever sit through a presentation where you wondered if the sea of PowerPoint slides would ever end?  If so, you’ll appreciate BLUF – Bottom Line Up Front.  My friends at the Corpus Christi Army Depot shared this with me recently.  Busy people appreciate it when you get to the point.  Using BLUF you lead with a few slides showing your conclusions, actionable facts and recommendations. 

The dozens of slides in the rest of your deck are there for backup if people have questions.  A nice way to save time and money!

Link of the Month

Do you find yourself wanting to know more about quality improvement but you’re short on time?  If so, this month’s link is for you!  Free contains a mother load of free quality tool, training and presentation downloads.  

It was started by Dr. S. Thomas Foster, Jr. at Penn State and is now hosted by Brigham Young University.  The site’s purpose is to disseminate quality tools to the general public.  While you are there be sure to check out the Training tab. There you will find around 200 .ppt training presentations on various quality topics that you can download and use.

Which Statistical Software Should I Use?

Operational Excellence methods such as Lean Six Sigma incorporate statistical and graphical tools to isolate and fix quality issues. While many of these tools have been around since the 1800’s there is absolutely no need to calculate or draw by hand today.  Many software packages are available. 

But which one do you select? The two most common selection criteria include (a) what you need to accomplish with the software and (b) budget.  A third criteria around the learning curve is often employed – but keep in mind it’s one thing to learn the software (the easy part) and a whole other animal to learn to interpret the output (not as easy regardless of which package you select).

First are the high-end packages that provide soup-to-nuts coverage of the quality tools you need.  Minitab is the Cadillac of the Six Sigma marketplace.  Its biggest competitor is JMP.  Other high-end packages include SPSS and SAS.  Fairly quick to learn the basics, but they carry pricetags in excess of $1000.  The latest Minitab version, for example, retails for $1395.

There are also a variety of mid-range specialty packages.  My favorites are SQCpack, DOEpack, and CHARTrunner from PQ Systems.  These operate on an annual license basis.

A very popular category is Excel-based add-ins.  While these provide fewer features than their big brothers, they cover all the basics many Green Belts may need, cost less (in the $200 - $300 range), and are fast to learn if one already knows Excel.  My favorite and a leader in this category is SigmaXL.  Competitors include QI Macros, and SPC XL.

Bottom Line - Research several (most offer free 30 day trials) and pick the right tool for your objectives and budget.  Don’t base the decision solely on learning curve – remember there are two learning curves: how to use the software and how to properly use the output of the software!


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