The DMAIC process improvement strategy (used in lean six sigma work) is not rocket science. It’s plain old common-sense. 

Though as you already know, common-sense isn’t always common, and is often difficult to draw upon unless there is a disciplined way of ensuring that common-sense processes are followed. 

The DMAIC strategy (originally developed by Motorola) does just that. It provides team leaders with a series of logical steps and tools that provide the basis for the process being followed with rigour and discipline.

Just like aircraft pilots go through a checklist every time they take off, DMAIC provides a checklist for project team leaders to be able to reproduce significant results repeatedly.

The DMAIC Sequence

The DMAIC process provides project team leaders with a logical 5 phase sequence for creating rapid and sustainable improvements in process performance. 

  • Define
  • Measure
  • Analyse
  • Improve
  • Control

Truth is, that DMAIC sequence is a lot more intuitively understandable and practical than Plan-Do-Check-Act for process improvement work.

The following image shows the DMAIC process with the 15 major actions associated with the DMAIC flow.

The DMAIC Difference

What makes the DMAIC process different from other process improvement techniques?

THE POWER OF THE TEAM – The concept of ‘none of us knows more than all of us’ has never been more relevant. The use of the people who work in the process and know it in detail, to generate methods for improving it is an empowering approach to generating high quality technical solutions, overcoming resistance to change and creating a culture of continual improvement.

CUSTOMER FOCUS – Even if you are focused on improvements for business purposes, the requirements of the customer are never overlooked.

VALIDATION OF CAUSE AND EFFECT – Cause and effect relationships remain hypotheses until validated with evidence of some kind. Any solutions generated are focused on treating validated causes, and not gut feel causes.

PARADIGM SHIFTS – In addition to minor changes, the lean six sigma DMAIC approach often generates creative solutions that are deviations from existing levels of thinking. Real progressive change can be experienced.

CONTROLLING PERFORMANCE – Traditional project management is founded in engineering, and as such focuses on processes that result in the construction of some object such as a machine, a building, a ship, an aircraft and the like. At the end of one project focus shifts to the next project. 

Lean six sigma recognises that process improvement project work is not the same, and at the end of the project you cannot just walk away and turn your back on the outcome. It requires the inclusion of performance control mechanisms, thus the CONTROL phase enhances traditional project management to fit process improvement work. 

MEASURING AND TRACKING RESULTS – Having undertaken comprehensive measurement during the early stages of the project, benefits can be tracked and reported. 

On the assumption that projects are selected on the basis of their contribution to the strategic objectives of the business, these results are of interest to the leaders of the organisation.

SOURCE – This is an extract from a George Lee Sye written lean six sigma publication. His work forms a complete lean six sigma body of knowledge now used by business improvement professionals around the world in both classroom and online Lean Six Sigma training. More information about George’s published works is available here – 

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