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【What is DMAIC?】 The Kaizen Projects’ Winning Pattern (Lean Six Sigma)

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【What is DMAIC?】 The Kaizen Projects...

DMAIC represents a 5-step procedure for implementing a Lean Six Sigma project (process improvement project). DMAIC stands for Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, and Control. This article summarize all those 5 phases.

(Duration: 4:55)

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What’s DMAIC, the fundamental of Lean Six Sigma?

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

For the next several weeks, I’m going to talk about DMAIC.  DMAIC represents the 5-phase framework of Lean Sigma projects, and is an acronym that consists of initials for each phase, Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve and Control.  It is the most basic part of Lean Sigma and originated from Six Sigma.

Some people occasionally have DMAIC and the PDCA cycle confused.  The PDCA cycle is the absolute success principle that improves your activities and you should apply it to your work everyday, even after a project completed.  On the other hand, DMAIC is the framework which operates Lean Sigma projects, and it ends with the end of each project.  Therefore we never say DMAIC “Cycle”.  Today I’ll explain briefly about each phase of DMAIC.

Introductions of each DMAIC’s phase

1) Define Phase:

The first letter, D is for the ‘Define Phase’.  It’s a phase to clarify the contents of the project you are going to start, such as:  background for carrying out the project, goal and purpose of the project, the project team members, and so on.  Also what is the target process?  You may want to represent it graphically.  If you continue your project with these definitions incomplete, you most likely will face major problems later on.

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2) Measure Phase:

The next letter, M is for the ‘Measure Phase’.  Set up parameters to judge the success or failure of the project.  It is ideal to be able to have a measurable goal.  You have to decide how to measure those parameters as well.  You access the degree of the project’s success at pivotal points by the measurements.  This phase is very important, but it can be, I would say, the most difficult phase for non-manufacturing projects because of the lack of sufficient quantifiable data.

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You should make as much effort as you can on this part, but in non-manufacturing projects, you may have an occasion where it’s impossible or doesn’t make sense to have a measurable goal.  If so, just go to the next phase.

3) Analyze Phase:

The next letter, A is for the ‘Analyze Phase’.  Here we will analyze the current state of the target process.  Represent the process graphically by Value Stream Map or flowchart.  Conduct and make the Value-added/Non-value-added analysis, do the 8 Wastes analysis and a Pareto chart in order to clarify issue areas and problems.  Then, find out the Vital Few – the highest-ranked important few elements.

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Seek reasons why these Vital Few occur and find the root causes.  Always deal with root causes rather than surface problems.  Always pursue a fundamental resolution rather than a band-aid solution.  Good tools for this are the “Five Whys Analysis” and the “Cause and effect diagram”.  Then, design a new, ideal process that includes fundamental resolutions.  Lastly, make a transition plan from the current process to the newly designed process.

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4) Improve Phase:

The next letter, I is for the ‘Improve Phase’.  Transition the current process into the ideal process that was designed in the previous phase.  One of the reasons that Lean Sigma excels beyond Six Sigma is because Lean methods work superbly here.

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5) Control Phase:

The last letter, C is for the ‘Control Phase’.  It’s useless if the new process was not maintained and went back to the old way, or the new process is managed at a lower standard than was planned.  Develop strategies for maintaining the new process.  One method for that is to make SOP’s, standard operating procedures, and train the process operators according to the SOP’s.  If you can connect their performance on the new process to their compensation plan or even a small bonus system, it would be effective.

You might have heard many unfamiliar terms in this episode.  I’ll explain all of those in more detail in the future.

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