In the Lean Six Sigma program the DMAIC (define, measure, analysis, improve, control) is deployed in conjunction with the Project to drive process improvement. In fact, Juran, the renowned quality guru said that breakthrough improvement (in the order of 50%) happens in no other way – project by project. He has been proven to be on the money as per the benchmark and most successful Lean Six Sigma companies like GE and Honeywell.
However, that does not mean that the logic behind the DMAIC cannot be used in everyday life. In many instances, we use it intuitively unknown to ourselves – e.g. we discover a water stain under the sink:
In the define phase we establish the nature of the problem – is it a fresh leak or an old dried out stain?
For measure, we quantify the problem – what is the size of the stain? Where exactly is it?
In the analyse phase we determine likely causes and try and validate it – a lose pipe connector or a worn seal.
The improve phase involves a solution – tighten the connector, replace the seal and if possible use a more robust seal with a longer lifecycle.
The control phase ensures the improve phase has been implemented effectively and has addressed the problem – check the connector is not loose or the seal is intact and that there is no evidence of any signs of water or leak. We check periodically until we are confident that this remains the case.
Therefore, the basic logic and closed loop approach behind the DMAIC can be quite useful in everyday situations but unfortunately it not used where it is most needed. The myriad of issues dominating the public airways e.g. the Ryan report, the endless tribunals, the reform of our Health Service, the reform of politics are all examples where the DMAIC loses Improve and Control and gets stuck permanently in the Analyse Phase with report after report gathering dust!