Six Sigma DMAIC Process - Improve Phase - Generate Possible Solution

Involve those who will be Affected: We need to make sure we solicit the upfront involvement of People affected by the problem or its solution and People with expertise in the subject matter. We should then Focus on the Root Causes i.e. Make the affected parties revisit the significant root causes to get to a solution. Then, pick on Idea Generation Technique.

Five key techniques used for idea generation and synthesis are:
  1. Brain-writing
  2. Benchmarking
  3. Assumption Busting
  4. Creative Brainstorming
  5. Modified Brainstorming
Idea Generation Technique - Brain-writing
Brain-writing is a technique used to generate many ideas in a short period of time. Two key modified brainstorming techniques used are Brain-writing 6-3-5 and Constrained Brain-writing.

Brain –writing 6-3-5 - The name brain-writing 6-3-5 comes from the process of having 6 people write 3 ideas in 5 minutes on a pre-defined parameter.

Constrained Brain-writing: The name constrained brain-writing comes the fact that on certain occasions the team may want to have a set of constrained ideas around a pre-determined focus, rather than ranging freely.

Idea Generation Technique - Benchmarking
Process benchmarking is a technique of continually searching for the best methods, practices and processes, and either adopting or adapting their good features and implementing them to become the “best of the best”.

Idea Generation Techniques – Assumption Busting
Assumption busting as a technique is used to trace back from the current performance problems to identify rules and then surface underlying assumptions.
The key steps involved in assumption busting are:
  • Revisit the current problem at hand.
  • Identify the rule(s) responsible for the problem.
  • Trace the rule(s) back to an assumption in the process.
  • Test to break the assumption – Is it wrong from the start? Or, Can it be made untrue?
For example: In a personal loan approval process the problem is lengthy cycle time for approvals which is leading to dissatisfaction. Investigation of the process reveals that there is a rule existing in the process which makes every vital task in processing the loan pass through a specialist (legal expert, financial expert, credit expert) after it has been processed by an agent. The reason for rule existing in the process is an assumption which says that all loan deals are complex. On investigation and data-collection it is found that only 5% of deals are complex and thus the process assumption is wrong.

Idea Generation Technique – Creative Brainstorming
Nominal Group Technique: The nominal group technique is a structured method to narrow down & prioritize on a list of choices. It is called “nominal” because during the session the group doesn’t engage in the usual amount of interaction typical of a team. Because of this relatively low level of interaction, nominal group technique is an effective tool when some group members are new to each other, relatively low level of interaction is required, issues are of highly controversial nature and a team is stuck in disagreement.

Idea Generation Technique – Modified Brainstorming
Modified brainstorming technique makes some basic and/or simple amendments to the “regular” creative brainstorming in order to help expand the number and quality of ideas. Three key modified brainstorming techniques used are: Analogy Technique, Channeling Technique and Anti-Solution Technique.

Analogy Technique - The ideas generated on the “analogy” then get translated to the real situation (the problem at hand). Channeling Technique - We begin by listing “categories” of ideas for the issue at hand. Then, as the team brainstorms, over a period of time it can “change channels” when new ideas slow down. The objective is to capture a broad range of ideas (several channels), as well as of quantity (as many ideas as possible in each channel).

Anti-Solution Technique - We begin by brainstorming around the opposite of the issue at hand. This is probably the easiest of modified brainstorming methods. For example, rather than brainstorming on ways to ensure complete information on a personal loan form we brainstorm on how to ensure we get no/incomplete information on the personal loan form.

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