Integrating Innovation into Design for Six Sigma
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Integrating Innovation into Design for Six Sigma
C2C Solutions Inc.
2899 E. Big Beaver #226
Troy, MI 48083
Value attracts customers,
earns respect, and
Innovation differentiates your product
from the competition, as well as, attracts the competitor’s clientele while
ensuring customer loyalty. Successful integration of these three all but
guarantees a bright future. Somewhere in the late 20th century, many
leading companies realized that the Product Development Process was as important
as the product itself. In order to achieve these three goals Design for Six
Sigma initiatives were born.
To date, there are numerous “versions” of Six Sigma and Design for Six Sigma,
to mention a few: MAIC, DMAIC, DMADV, DMEDI, DIDOV, IDDOV, etc. The best
approach a company can take is to understand the critical elements contained
within each version, and then customize what you have learned to fit your
corporate culture. This article (and roadmap) illustrates a “macro” perspective
of common elements found within various Design for Six Sigma Programs. These
elements are integrated into a unique and simplified graphical roadmap titled
“Concept to Customer” Roadmap.
The “Concept to Customer” Roadmap
This “Concept to Customer” roadmap involves a set of structured and logical
activities that focus on the customer, cultivate innovation, ensure robustness,
maintain reliability, reduce cost, and ultimately increase value for the end
customer and shareholders. Many companies today understand the relative
importance of these three elements, and are introducing rigorous methods to
achieve them in every aspect of their business.
Notes on the “Concept to Customer” process in Figure 1:
- The order of events and the extent to which each proposed step
(represented in Figure 1) should be practiced will be debated forever. It is
the authors’ opinion that this roadmap represents a logical flowchart that
integrates common Design for Six Sigma (DFSS) Methods and tools, into a
- There are several “entry points” into the “Concept to Customer”
process that are dependant on the project objectives and where you are in
your engineering and business situation.
- To illustrate all the possible paths one could travel in the “Concept
to Customer” process would yield a spaghetti chart. The most common paths
are illustrated with red arrows.
Click here (595 KB)
to view a full size "Concept to Customer"
Roadmap PDF (new window)
The Concept to Customer Roadmap can be summarized and broken up into 5 main
- Define the Opportunity and Understand your Customers: Since
the customer defines quality, a meticulous knowledge of each of your
customers must be understood and documented. Numerous techniques are
available to understand your customer. Steps A, B, C, and D focus on
understanding your customers better than they understand themselves.
- Form Really Does Follow Function. Functions are the most
important aspect of any Product or Service. Value is measured by the
ratio of Functions to Cost (F/C). Maximizing this ratio and engineering
the most appropriate set of functions to respond to the customer’s
requirements must be very well thought through. Steps E, F, and G focus
on formulating the right “model” of your product or process, then
introduce steps to ensure a reliable delivery.
- Innovate or Die! Technical challenges and a harsh
competitive environment make innovation mandatory. Most people think
only “special” people have the ability to innovate. Wrong! Numerous
methods exist to greatly enhance the ability of anyone to generate
unique and elegant ideas. Steps H and I introduce numerous techniques to
generate, evaluate, and synthesize new ideas.
- Robustness Leads to Loyalty: A robust product or service is
one that behaves consistently in the presence of factors that cannot be
controlled or are too expensive to control. Companies who consistently
deliver robust products have many loyal followers. Steps J and L
introduce methods to ensure robust products and manufacturing processes.
- Maintain the Gains: Once your product and process has been
designed, production controls and continuous improvement activities are
needed in order to ensure capability and eliminate unforeseen waste.
Steps M and N illustrate popular techniques for the above.
- Alshuller, G. Creativity
as an Exact Science: The Theory of the Solution of Inventive
Problems New York: Gordon and Breach, 1988
- Cox, Moran, and ReVelle, -
The QFD Handbook, John Wiley & Sons 1998
- Clausing, D. Total
Product Development. A Step-By-Step Guide to World Class
Concurrent Engineering, ASME Press, New York 1994
- De Bono, E., 1992, Serious
Creativity - Harper Collins Publishers.
- Verduyn, David M, 2000.
QFD with an Attitude - The 12th Symposium on Quality Function
- Verduyn, David M, Wu Alan,
1997. Innovative Products that are Robust & Delight the Customer.
ASI’s 3rd Annual International Total Product Development Symposium.
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