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Process Improvement Essentials by James R. Persse PhD

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Define

The D in DMAIC is for define. For any process improvement initiative, you must first decide what you are going to do, why you are doing it, how you'll get it done, and what results you'll hope to achieve. Six Sigma places special emphasis on these definition activities. This is because Six Sigma doesn't want you to engage in process improvement just for the sake of process improvement. The understanding behind the program is that tinkering with process is serious business, and so you should not take it lightly. Businesses run on processes. Products and services are released through processes. Company success is based on processes. So what you do to your processes is going to make a difference, one way or another.

If there is a central idea behind this first step, it is to pick wisely. Choose an issue that will make a demonstrable difference in the company's ability to achieve its goals. Look for opportunities to tangibly affect efficiencies, to drive out costs, or to eliminate waste. Look for change that will alter what you produce in ways your customers will notice. A good place to begin is to define what it is that probably should change.

Figure 7-3 illustrates the define phase of DMAIC.

In the define phase of DMAIC, the objective is to shape the Six Sigma program so that it can be executed in an orderly fashion, with an empirical focus based on data control. This involves defining the problem to be addressed, shaping the scope of the project, defining the goal to be accomplished, setting functional boundaries in place, and then developing a detailed project plan that will be used to govern the project.

Figure 7-3. In the define phase of DMAIC, the objective is to shape the Six Sigma program so that it can be executed in an orderly fashion, with an empirical focus based on data control. This ...

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