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PDCA Cycle – How to Utilize Data Analyses in Service Operations (Lean Six Sigma)

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PDCA Cycle - How to Utilize Data Ana...

How can we utilize the PDCA Cycle for service operations? Operational data used in the PDCA verification / evaluation stage is required. You can do it by incorporating a mechanism for collecting data in the business flow itself. Please use it as a hint for using the PDCA cycle.

(Duration: 3:41)

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Have you quantified phenomena in all of your processes?

Hi, this is Mike Negami, Lean Sigma, Black Belt.

This episode is about the last one of the three Lean Sigma characteristics that we must always be aware of during any Lean Sigma activities. The title is “Data-Oriented”.

The father of Japanese quality control, Edwards Deming told us:

“If you can’t describe what you are doing as a process, you don’t know what you’re doing.”

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It’s a very deep sentence, but it doesn’t come across clearly. If you add a word, ‘scientifically’, after the ‘describe’, it’ll become easier to understand.  Let me restate it. “If you can’t describe scientifically what you are doing as a process, you don’t know what you’re doing.” In short, he is saying “Quantify phenomena in all processes.”

In the case of manufacturing operations it is often the case that there is already a lot of data, but in non-manufacturing operations, you may need to start with collecting data. You should create a system that allows you to show some data to your people who have been working passively until now and tell them “Here is the result of your work last month. Keep it up, aiming to increase this number.” There will be people whose motivation would be increased by this way.

Data is essential for success in the PDCA Cycle.

I’ll tell you another reason why you need measurable data in improvement activities: It’s because you can’t rotate the PDCA Cycle effectively without data. I talked about the PDCA Cycle in an earlier episode.

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The PDCA Cycle is the absolute foundation of improvement activities. In the flow of PDCA, you make a Plan, Do the Plan, and Check your Plan’s progress. If you don’t use measurable data, you can’t evaluate the progress.

Even if you have evaluation without the measurable data, like just saying “I think we did a good job.” or “We should have done better.”, you can’t discuss which part of the process and how you should change from now on. Since Lean Sigma activities are improvement activities themselves, it’s no surprise that they have to be “Data -Oriented”.

How to use data in process improvement in service operations

Then, the next issue would be how you can make your people, who haven’t been working based on data, work in a “Data-oriented” way. It doesn’t work 100 percent if you only depend on education and training.  You need to make efforts to embed functions in the process to collect data and to show each operator their numeric performance results in the best timing seamlessly.

Even if your process absolutely doesn’t have any measurable data, do not give up just because of that. Lean Sigma has a lot other elements that can enable you to conduct an improvement project without data. I’ll talk about those elements later. That being said, please try to collect as much measurable data as you can.

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I’ve now completed this episode, the third Lean Sigma characteristic, “Data-Oriented”. Thank you for viewing. If you like my videos, please click the Subscribe button. Thanks.

<< Mike’s Comment >>

We’ve been doing the ‘3 Lean Sigma Characteristics’ series of videos for the past few weeks.

The first two were:

1) “Customer-Oriented”

2) “Toyota’s KAIZEN is more than Improvement”

They had more of their content from the Lean Production System than from Six Sigma.  Today’s theme, the third characteristic, is drawing more from the content of Six Sigma. This episode is: “Data-Oriented”.

This “Data-Oriented” mindset is what we must always be aware of during any Lean Sigma activities. However, you may be struggling about this if you are in non-manufacturing operations since there may not be enough numeric data, which is something I personally experience in my workplace.

Back in the era of Six Sigma, we would still be stuck at the beginning of a project with no way to progress if there wasn’t sufficient numeric data.  But Lean Sigma has a lot of other elements that can enable you to conduct an improvement project without numeric data.

That being said, it’s still very important at the beginning of your project, to collect data and to identify which data can be used.  Please watch the video to learn more.

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