What are the most important tools for Six Sigma?

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What are the most important tools for Six Sigma?

This lesson covers the major tools of Six Sigma but remember this is only a small sampling of all the tools available within Six Sigma. The three major tools of Six Sigma are the:

  1. Pareto Chart
  2. Cause Effect Diagram
  3. Scatter Diagram

When starting a plan to implement Six Sigma, it is important to start within the Six Sigma toolbox. The Si Sigma toolbox is a common starting point which provide a common language, math, repeatability, structure, a close to scientific approach which is both qualitative and quantitative. Six Sigma is based on the DMAIC model: for Define-Measure-Analyze-Improve-Control.

In the Define phase, one of the tools that can be utilized is the Affinity Diagram. The Affinity Diagram gather large amounts of language qualitative data including but not limited to ideas, opinions and issues and organizes them into groupings based on their natural relationship. The Affinity diagram is good example of brainstorming. Another tool which can be utilized in the Define phase is the Critical to Quality (CTQ) tool. This tool is based on a tree-shaped diagram which helps to manufacture and provide high-quality products and services to customers. CTQ trees are used to interpret extensive and broader customer requirements into, precise and litigable, calculable and performance demands.  

A third tool which can be utilized in Six Sigma is the measure tool. The measure tool is based on data collection forms and plans. The measure tool is based on a chart and answers the following questions:

  1. How to collect the needed data?
  2. What is needed?
  3. Do you have access to the right data?
  4. Do you need to create a new process to collect the needed data?

Finally, there are the analyze tools within Six Sigma which consist of the:

  1. Pareto Chart
    1. Highlights the most important set of factors  
      1. Customer complaints
      2. Defects
  2. Cause-Effect Diagram (aka the Wishbone)
    1. Root cause analysis
    2. Visual display
  3. Scatter Diagram
    1. Graphs numerical variable on a 2D graph
    2. Better the correlation

Within the Improve part of the DMAIC model, there are process flow diagrams which capture actions and require decisions which lead to the next action.

Finally, within the Control part of the DMAIC model, there are control charts. Control charts study how a process changes over time, and plots data in time order. Control charts have a central line for the average, and upper line for the upper control limit and a lower line for the lower control limit.

Essentially, Six Sigma is all about measurement: qualitative, quantitative and semi quantitative.

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