Category Archives: Project Management

Is there a better way to manage product development projects?

The last three decades have seen an explosion in project management software tools and certifications for project management methodologies. Terms like agile, resource management, critical path analysis, risk mitigation, etc. are now commonplace throughout the corporate world. However, has all of this attention to the project management discipline resulted in product development executing as planned? […]

Discrete and Continuous Data – Recognizing the Difference

The choice of which statistical test to use is often determined in part by whether the data is continuous or discrete.  Our Green Belt course includes an exercise where students are asked to convert continuous data into discrete categories.  For example, time to complete a transaction is continuous data.  Discrete categories for delivering a package […]

Issues When Selecting a Sample from a Population

In our Yellow Belt course, students discuss a situation where improper selection of a sample from a larger population resulted in problems with the data that was collected, and how these problems might have been prevented.  Students often misunderstand the issues involved in randomly selecting a sample that is representative of a population.  Here is […]

Who is the Customer in a Non-Profit Organization?

Our Yellow Belt course includes an assignment that challenges students to think about improving the processes that serve their customers.  One of my Yellow Belt students works for a non-profit foundation that raises funds that are used for providing scholarships to students and grants to educators.  She recently submitted the following statement: “My organization’s customers […]

Process Capability Studies Using One-Sided Specifications

Process capability studies calculate the process capability indices Cp and Cpk.  These statistics tell us how well the process is meeting specifications or requirements.  Capability studies are designed for two-sided specifications that have an upper and a lower limit.  Adjustments must be made when we have a one-sided specification and/or a boundary limit in place […]

With Data, Anything Can Happen!

In article 73 in this series, I discussed the issue of whether to transform data.    Students of Six Sigma often think (incorrectly) that there is something inherently wrong with their data if it is not normally distributed.  We should always strive to understand why the data is distributed the way it is and recognize that […]

PDCA Thinking and Sports Team Performance

The PDCA cycle (Plan-Do-Check-Act) is an iterative four-step approach for managing and improving products and business processes.   Today we will discuss how the PDCA approach is used by sports teams, with an eye toward how this same thinking can be applied to improving the performance of business processes and products. The Plan Phase begins with […]

Pairwise Ranking: A Six-Step Approach to Evaluating Alternatives

In the Improve phase of a Six Sigma project, we typically need to choose between two or more potential solutions to a problem.  There are several tools to help in making this decision, one of which is pairwise ranking.   Pairwise ranking is used by individuals or teams to qualitatively prioritize a list of alternatives.  There […]

Are we solving the right problem?

Students in our Green Belt course analyze and comment on a case study that deals with products that are returned by customers.  They are challenged to discuss what was done well in the case and what could have been done better. The products being returned for credit are data storage systems that are suspected of […]