There’s a lot of Jargon or specialist terminology that you’ll hear if you’re getting involved in Six Sigma, especially if (like me when I started) you’re dropped in with people a lot more experienced in Six Sigma than you. Some will be words which are completely alien to you (Six Sigma and Lean both use a lot of Japanese words), some will be acronyms like DMAIC, and others will be words you know, but not the way they are used in Six Sigma.
A method of finding the root cause of an issue. Essentially you keep asking why to the previous answer until the final root cause is found (starting with ‘why is the issue happening?’).
The seven main ways that resources are wasted in an organization – transportation, inventory, motion, waiting, overproduction, overprocessing and defects.
This is the current amount of value you add as output per ‘unit’ of input, to be contrasted with ‘Potential Quality’ which is the maximum amount possible.
In Lean manufacturing, a device where a machine operative can signal that there is a quality / operational issue. This may also stop the production line.
Stands for Analysis of Variance.
Black Belts are Six Sigma team leaders, with extensive training who usually work full time on Six Sigma projects.
A system for making your workplace organized and efficient – stands for Clearing, Arrangement, Neatness, Discipline, Organization.
Stands for Customer, Output, Process, Input, Supplier, and is a high-level overview of a process and its context. COPIS is the customer focused version of SIPOC.
DFSS stands for Design for Six Sigma, also known by the acronym DMADV.
Stands for Define, Measure, Analyze, Design and Verify. It is the framework for creating new processes, where the existing process needs a complete rewrite, or doesn’t exist. See DMAIC. The alternative is DMAIC (see below), which is for improving the existing process.
Stands for Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve and Control, with an optional 6th ‘Transfer’. It is the key framework in Six Sigma, and is for process improvement.
Defects per Million Opportunities number of mistakes that are made out of a million functions that could lead to a mistake.
Time planning chart showing the tasks, and when they are expected to be achieved, including the time relative to other tasks.
The workplace, or ‘the place where value is created’. Usually used in a manufacturing sense, in that the gemba is the factory floor area.
A walk round the operational part of the workplace (e.g. the factory floor).
Staff members with extensive Six Sigma training, although less than Black belts, who usually have a day to day job outside of Six Sigma, but have an active role in projects when required, performing key roles.
Just In Time (JIT)
Production (usually manufacturing), where goods are ordered, received, processed and dispatched so that they just meet customer requirements, minimizing the amount of stock required and reducing waste.
Literally change (Kai) for good (Zen). A mini Lean Six Sigma project which is designed to throw large amounts of resource at a smaller problem to get it fixed quickly. This contrast to a standard project where a smaller resource is allocated over a larger time period.
A sign-based scheduling system for producing finished goods, based on the production being customer (pull) driven, rather than general production (push) driven.
Often just called average as it is the most frequently used type of average, it is all the measurements added together and divided by the number of measurements. It is the most often used average, but is criticized for the outliers (very high and very low) numbers skewing the average. E.g. in the measurements 1,1,3,6,9 the mean will be (1+1+3+6+9)/5 = 4.
A method of taking the average which has the advantage over the mean of outliers not skewing the average. To take the median, you put all the measurements in ascending order (I.e. lowest first, highest at the end) and the number in the middle is the median. E.g. in the measurements 1,1,3,6,9 the median will be 3.
The most commonly found value of a group of numbers or measurements. E.g. in the measurements 1,1,3,6,9, the mode will be ‘1’ as there are two ‘1’ measurements and only 1 of the others.
Muda is a Japanese word, meaning waste – anything we do or use (in terms of resources). There are seven wastes – transportation, inventory, motion, waiting, overproduction, overprocessing and defects.
Pareto chart / diagram
A chart showing where your issues are concentrated, to see if you have a few key issues or lots of smaller ones.
The process of mistake-proofing (fool proofing), i.e. making it so that processes either automatically don’t have any errors, or that errors are quickly detected so that they can be corrected.
The maximum amount of value you can add per unit of input, to be contrasted with Actual Quality.
A Project charter is the first thing you do after choosing your project – it shows key information such as team, resources, timeline etc.
Supplier, Input, Process, Output, Customer (COPIS is just the reverse) – a high level look at the inputs and outputs of a process.
Six Sigma is a statistical term, which is the terms of Six Sigma means reaching this level is fewer than 3.4 DPMO (defects per million opportunities), which is a yield of 99.99966% without defects for a simple process with one opportunity for error. It is also the system where you can reduce the defects in your procedures to this level.
A high level process map that shows the stages of the process and the movements between departments / areas.
An acronym to remember the 7 wastes of Lean Manufacturing (‘Who is TIM WOOD?’). It stands for Transport, Inventory, Motion, Waiting, Over-Processing, Overproduction and Defects.
TPS – Toyota Production System
The system of efficient manufacturing developed at Toyota which evolved into ‘Lean’.
Value Stream Map
Chart showing the actions required to take material through a process, or the entire production system.
The entry level Lean Six Sigma operative – expected to have some knowledge of what is going on, but usually not to take part.
A higher level of Lean Six Sigma Operative than White Belts, Yellow Belts are expected to be able to help in some simpler tasks on Six Sigma projects.