Highlights from a Keynote - Achieving Successful DMAIC
Recently, I gave the keynote address at the Illiana Quality Conference in Chicago, which was hosted by the ASQ Statistics Division.  My address was very well received, and those in attendance who are also members of the Six Sigma Forum suggested that I create a series of posts that touched on the topics I covered that morning.

This will be the first of several posts, and it will serve as the introduction to the six ideals that I believe help us achieve successful DMAIC.

I have been a practicing Six Sigma belt at Ford Motor Company for 18 years--2 years as a Black Belt and 16 years as a Master Black Belt.  When I started as a Black Belt at Ford, Six Sigma was new to our company.  We only had a handful of Master Black Belts, and even they were quite new to the concept of DMAIC problem solving.  I was quite excited after completing my training, but when I got out into the field to start applying what I had learned, I found that I really had no idea how to start.  My projects seemed to gain no traction, and advice from my Master Black Belt was not enough to get me going.  I couldn't understand it.  I was valedictorian in both my bachelor's and master's programs in engineering from a top college in Michigan, and I was considered a top performer in my previous engineering jobs.  Why couldn't I do this?

DMAIC is a completely different way of thinking when solving problems.  Although it has all the tools we use in engineering problem solving, the logic and flow is a bit different.  How many times have you seen new belts struggling with DMAIC, only to revert back to their old ways of doing things and not being nearly as effective as they could be with DMAIC?  It happens way too often and causes Six Sigma programs to wither out of existence.

I'll never forget the one day I came home after an incredibly frustrating day about three months into my new assignment.  My wife noticed I was quite distressed and asked me what was wrong.  What came out of my mouth is something I never thought I'd hear myself say.  "I suck at this--I just don't get it!"  As any good wife would do, she consoled me and told me that I just needed to stick with it, that I would figure it out, because that was my nature.  I'm glad I listened to her, and she was right.  I tell everyone that being a Master Black Belt is the best job that I've ever had, and I can honestly say that I'm very good at it, and I enjoy it!

Now having been a Master Black Belt for so many years, I've noticed that all the projects I work on have several things in common that allow for their successful completion.  I made a promise that I would share these traits with every Black Belt and Green Belt I taught, because I didn't want anyone else to suffer the way that I did when I was a new belt.  I don't want anyone else to have to tell their close friends or significant other that they suck at their new DMAIC job.

That's what this series of posts will highlight--the six traits I believe every Six Sigma belt should practice so they can achieve successful DMAIC right out of the gate.

Stay tuned--the first trait is UNDERSTANDING.