“Six Sigma on a Budget” book review with simplified tools

One of the biggest issues with companies deploying Six Sigma is the upfront cost for training. For a company of 1000 employees, most consultants would recommend 10 Black Belts and 100 Green Belts. Although it can be an effective way to gain critical mass, the price tag can scare many companies away.

There are many ways to cost effectively implement Six Sigma, without all the upfront costs. In fact, we prefer a more targeted approach to process improvement, not a mass training that cannot possibly be supported or managed properly.

Based on these issues with Six Sigma deployment, I was intrigued by the book “Six Sigma on a Budget: Achieving More with Less Using the Principles of Six Sigma

Despite the title, this book is not about how to deploy Six Sigma cost effectively. We utilize an approach where we identify a target area, focus on making that area successful, then roll out to the rest of the areas in a methodical manner. Please contact us for help with this approach.

Instead, the book focuses on how to use the Six Sigma tools more effectively, to increase utilization with employees and reduce training time. The author, Warren Brussee, went through Six Sigma training at GE, but felt there was a better way to train, without as much technical details, with an approach that provides a more effective use of the tools.

The book covers the basic concepts of Six Sigma, and says that you only need high school level math and Excel software to achieve Green Belt level skills from this book.

Brussee presents many different simplified versions of existing tools, to show how to easily utilize the concepts, without the complexity and effort.

Here are the tools he presents as “Simplified,” along with a description on how it differs from the traditional application:

  • Quality Function Deployment (QFD)
    • Only uses the two comparisons between customer needs and design options (items). The design items are grouped to help determine priorities. Each customer need is ranked with a 1 to 5 scale (5 being safety or critical), and each design item is ranked with a 1 to 5 scale (5 being that it addresses the customer need completely). The design option that ranks the highest is the best approach for the team. This reminds me of a Cause and Effect Matrix.
  • Failure Mode and Effects Analysis (FMEA)
    • Only lists the concerns (risks) on the left side column, and lists the potential solutions across the top, using a similar scale as QFD.
  • Process Flow Diagrams (PFD)
    • Uses only a few symbols, and only displays four process types: assembly, transfer, measurements, quality judgments
  • Correlation Tests
    • Instead of running correlation statistical tests (generating a correlation coefficient), he suggests using visual charts to stack different factors on top of each other, using the same timeline on the x-axis. If you can visually see how variation aligns with other factors, then there might be a correlation. I’ve seen these simplified charts in Excel, called sparklines. Learn more about sparklines >>>
  • Gauge Verification
    • Suggests using “master” parts that are centered near the target (middle of the specifications), then having 3 different operators/machines measure the master part 7 times each. This will provide 21 measurements, of which repeatability and reproducibility can be calculated.
  • Control Charts
    • Uses a simpler chart to identify issues that is more intuitive and understandable to workers. Instead of plotting a single data point, a vertical bar is plotted showing the average of the last 11 readings, and the spread represents the variation of the 11 readings. The bars are colored coded based on whether they exceed control or tolerance limits.
  • Design of Experiments (DOE)
    • He discusses using a 2-level factorial DOE with 5 replicates (i.e. a 2 factor experiment would require 2^2 x 5 = 20 samples), and to compare the average and standard deviation results to each combination, to find the settings that have minimal variation, and that is closest to the nominal results.

Overall, I would recommend this book if you are looking for “simplified” ways to teach and utilize the tools listed above (QFD, FMEA, PFD, Gage R&R, SPC, DOE).

To order the book or read the first chapter, visit the Amazon page for “Six Sigma on a Budget” >>>

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