One of Six Sigma’s founders, Mikel J. Harry, Ph.D, has passed

Mikel Harry, one of the original founders of Six Sigma and its most dynamic advocate, passed away today.

Mikel J. Harry, Ph.D
Mikel J. Harry, Ph.D

Mikel Harry, one of the original founders of Six Sigma and its most dynamic advocate, passed away today. Mikel and I were friends and professional colleagues for many years. Six Sigma will be much less colorful without his presence. Rest in peace, Mikel. I wish you the perfection that you pursued during your life.

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The Basics of Success, Part II: 5 Fundamental Steps

Ambitions concept with businessman climbing stairs

Have you ever looked at someone else’s success and thought, “How did they do that?!” And then looked at yourself and wondered, “Could I do that?”

Most of us have big goals, if we let ourselves indulge in them. The fact is, we all have the potential to achieve what we want, most of us simply lack the motivation and determination to follow through on the difficult steps. Or, looking even more deeply into the problem, we do not even know what those steps are.

And that is the problem that we address and simplify here: the fundamental steps to achieving the success you are fully capable of.

  1. Clearly Delineate Your Vision – Successful people have one thing in common: they all know what they want to achieve. This statement has two facets. First, YOU have to know what you want — this is your goal, not the goal that someone else set up for you. Second, you have to clearly define exactly what you want.
  2. Develop Your Strategy – Create an overall game plan to reach your goal. This step takes planning and thought, and obviously you cannot predict every step, but generating a strategy to get you to your goal is an important step as it gives you the map and the energy to take consistent steps toward success.
  3. Expand Your Horizons – From years of life experience, we all have our own paradigms, thought patterns, and perceived limits. Reaching for a goal you have never met before, however, calls you to take actions you have never taken before. Broadening your horizons to try new things is an integral component of reaching new success.
  4. Work – Success would not be success if it was easy enough for anyone to achieve while sitting on their couches. The bigger your goal, the harder the work will be to reach it, and the bigger the reward will be in the end.
  5. Never Give Up – Failure is only failure if you accept it as such. Your option is accepting the setback, learning vital lessons from it, and creating a new approach that breaks down the problem into small enough pieces to take one at a time.

Success never came by accident. Success always results from clear planning, creative work, and dedication. And anyone willing to invest in their goals, take small but vital steps every day, and never give up can achieve the success they desire.

Not sure where to start? Take a look at our online store for creative ideas or contact us to learn more.

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The Basics of Success, Part I: The Foundation


Silhouette of a successful woman or girl arms raised celebrating at sunrise or sunset in front of the New York City Skyline

Whether you do a Google search or browse the self-help section of your local bookstore, you will see a myriad of articles or books that claim to give you the secret formula for success. And the chances are, for the author and a few other people, those formulas work. But real success — regardless of the person or the achievement — has the same foundation.

First, let’s explore what the foundation of success is NOT.

1. Trying to Do Everything at Once

You cannot and you do not want to. Looking at an entire project and attempting to do it all in one step is a recipe for disaster.

Instead: Take one small step, observe the results, adjust as necessary, repeat.

2. Becoming Intimidated or Overwhelmed by Your Goals’ Size

Your goals are likely large and complex — and they should be! But that can lead to becoming overwhelmed or too intimidated to even begin.

Instead: Determine one step — just the first step. Ask for advice if you get stuck.

3. Waiting Until You Feel Completely Prepared

Yes, it is important to research and understand the process, but waiting until you feel entirely ready will likely result in permanent procrastination.

Instead: Do a reasonable amount of research, and then take that first step — no matter how intimidating or overwhelming it may seem.

Do you see a trend here? Start small and take consistent steps — you will get you to your goal.

But what about when things go wrong?

Distractions, interruptions, mistakes, and setbacks are a normal part of life. As such, they cannot distract you from your goal. Disappointed about the result of your first step? Remind yourself that it is a natural part of the journey, accept the lessons you can learn from it, and immediately look for the next step to keep moving forward.

Life provides innumerable opportunities to turn your goals and aspirations into success. But this success will not simple materialize on its own. Success comes from consistent hard work, patience, and creativity, but it all starts with that first step. And it grows from that foundation: using every moment of your life to take small steps forward. They quickly add up to more success than you had even imagined.

Visit our online store for some creative ideas to get started.


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Superior Optimization; Single Part or Multiple Part Operations: What’s Best for Your Company?

Image of young businessman pointing at touchpad while explaining his idea to colleague at meeting

The demands of creating product production lines or value streams that are efficient and cost-effective are well-known to successful makers and producers. There are just so many factors that can pull positive results down into the realm of loss and to the often hard to answer questions of what the causes are and why they are occurring.

From loading a work table to loading finished products on a pallet, the potential for lost time and productivity looms large and the practices to engage those concerns are many. Finding the right way comes down to answering some questions about your company and your practices.

The Six Sigma approach has been successfully applied to answer these questions by industries from grain harvesting to healthcare and as its effectiveness is proven again and again its popularity grows. Six Sigma, or 6S, is a proven and disciplined approach to analyzing the data from operations as they occur to find the best way of bringing value streams together for peak efficiency and quality control. Since its inception, 6S has grown to incorporate the lean method in many of the locations implementing it. The lean method drives down production times and does so with demonstrable effectiveness. Combined with the quality assurance of 6S, Lean Six Sigma or L6S is becoming the industry standard among those professionals at the very top of their game.

As one of the most powerful tools for identifying problems in manufacturing like over-processing, overproduction, transportation or defects and turning that data into new best practices L6S, as implemented by a top shelf team can make all the difference. Developing such a team starts with training, and the Pyzdek Institute, whose training is simply the best there is when it comes to mastering L6S, is the place to find it.

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Six Facts About Six Sigma

Six Sigma symbol and text over blue circle background.

Six Sigma Training has been around since the 1980’s and continues to gain popularity with businesses looking to reduce variability and waste in production. Many employers look for resumes that include Six Sigma Training when hiring.

Thomas Pyzdek took the concepts of Six Sigma, and Lean, and created a training system for each, and a combination of the two. This training is available worldwide in an online version. Research indicates online training is an effective delivery systems with unique benefits. If you are considering enrolling in a Lean, Six Sigma, or a Lean Six Sigma course, here are six things you should know.

  1. ASQ (The American Society for Quality) conducted a salary survey in December 2011. The study verified that certified Six Sigma Black Belts earn about $16,500 more per year than their non-certified counterparts.
  2. You will have to commit your time, not just your money, to this process. Most people can complete the online course work in about 180 hours.
  3. While there are levels to Six Sigma–White Belt, Yellow Belt, Green Belt, and Black Belt– you do not have to proceed through the belt levels. You can enroll in and complete the Black Belt level with no prerequisites.
  4. The Pyzdek Institute requires no educational requirements for enrollment in the Six Sigma classes; although they recommended that you have a passing grade in high school algebra.
  5. The differences between Lean Six Sigma Black Belt training and Six Sigma Black Belt training is an additional ten training modules. These Lean modules provide the understanding of how value flows throughout a system.
  6. The Pyzdek Institute awards three individual certificates. Bronze for completing the training, Silver for passing the exam, and Full Certification when you complete a real-world project. Many employers prefer you to complete your project with them. These certification options allow you to complete your training and exams, before completing a project with the employer of your choice.

Beware! Not all online training is good training. When you are seeking an online source for your Six Sigma and Lean Six Sigma training, enroll with a training company that has proven success, The Pyzdek Institute. Contact us today for your best Six Sigma training options.

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A Few Words About Six Sigma

Six Sigma symbol and text surrounded with related factors.

What exactly IS “Six Sigma” and what can it do for my organization? Succinctly stated, Six Sigma is a data-driven procedure through which problematic issues in any process (e.g., manufacturing, product delivery, service transactions, etc.) can be significantly reduced, if not totally eliminated.

Introduced in 1986 (trademarked in 1993) by Motorola engineers Bill Smith and Mikel Harry, Six Sigma was later (1995) adopted as a primary business strategy by General Electric CEO Jack Welch and has since permeated multiple industrial sectors throughout the world.

The term itself is derived from the sigma rating (i.e., percentage of defect-free products) of a matured manufacturing process and the statistical measure of six standard deviations from the average. Motorola’s self-imposed goal of “six sigma” (i.e., 3.4 defects per million outputs) established (and subsequently served to perpetuate) the generic title by which the process of quality improvement has come to be known.

The ultimate quality of the output of a process can be significantly improved through definitive Six Sigma procedures. Essentially, a specified set of quality management methods utilizes empirical, statistical analysis to identify causes of problems and subsequently enables efforts to reduce, if not indeed eliminate, these issues. Through minimization of statistical variability in the processes associated with manufacturing and/or business endeavors, personnel trained in Six Sigma specify value targets to be achieved. Examples of such focuses include the reduction of costs, pollution, process cycle time, etc., as well as the measurable enhancement of customer satisfaction, employee retention, etc.

Six Sigma objectives are accomplished via the direct implementation of either of two sub-methodologies: DMAIC and DMADV. Through defining, measuring, analyzing, improving, and controlling, personnel trained in the principles of Six Sigma are able to imbue existent organizational systems with the adjustments deemed necessary to facilitate gradual, incremental improvement. Similarly, for the development of new processes or products that will satisfy the optimal standards inherent in Six Sigma, the phased efforts of defining, measuring, analyzing, designing, and verifying will be applied.

A 2002 derivative of Six Sigma is Lean Six Sigma. This approach is characterized by direct elimination of “muda,” or the waste that occurs in relation to eight facets of manufacturing and/or business. Key elements of time, inventory, motion, waiting, over-production, over-processing, defects, and skills (acronym: TIMWOODS) are targeted to be made “lean.” This focus on waste elimination, in conjunction with the Six Sigma reduction of defects and critical to quality (CTQ) characteristics, serves to foster a more efficient and effective operation, thus saving time, effort, and money.

So what? While it all sounds well and good to try to improve upon any given organizational process, why should anyone invest specifically in Six Sigma training? Well, how about to save a lot of money!? It is estimated that Six Sigma experts (i.e., “black belts”) save companies approximately $230,000 per project. It is noted that the United States Army ($2 billion), General Electric ($1.8 billion), Ford Motor Company ($1 billion), and Allied Signal ($800 million) claimed substantial benefits directly attributable to their Six Sigma utilization (Monk, 2015). It was also reported by the American Society for Quality (ASQ) that an independent study found that “ … effective implementation of Six Sigma led to an average savings of 1.7 percent of revenues over the period of implementation and an average return of more than $2 in direct savings for every dollar invested on Six Sigma” (Pulakanam, 2012). Thus, the reported return on investment (ROI) in Six Sigma was more than 100%.

It would thus seem that an investment in Six Sigma would constitute an intelligent move if the objective of achieving significant improvement in efficiency is desired. Please visit our website or contact us via the link below for a more complete provision of information about the value and benefits of Six Sigma.

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Monk, J. (2015). Saving from the start with lean Six Sigma. Six Sigma Daily (15 February 2015).

Pulakanam, V. (2012). Cost and savings of Six Sigma programs: An empirical study. Quality Management Journal, October 2012, vol. 19 no. 4, pp. 39-54.

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Improve the Value of Your Brand Through Six Sigma Training

In 2011, according to GuruFocus, the Dr. Pepper Snapple Group started a Rapid Continuous Improvement (RCI) initiative which uses Lean and Six Sigma in order to improve productivity and increase customer value.

In 2011, according to GuruFocus, the Dr. Pepper Snapple Group started a Rapid Continuous Improvement (RCI) initiative which uses Lean and Six Sigma in order to improve productivity and increase customer value. The initiative has paid off big for the company in the years since, providing $200 million in annualized cash productivity savings. The company, a leading manufacturer and distributor of non-alcoholic beverages in North America, is seeing growth and an even brighter future.

In the past five years, Dr. Pepper’s diluted EPS has increased by 64 percent and its dividend has grown by 82 percent. Its EPS is expected to grow 6.3 percent this year and nearly 7 percent in 2016, GuruFocus reported. As it continues to roll out its RCI initiative, it will also be continuing to build its brands and engage its customers through programming, products, and packaging.

The company is also hoping to expand its naturally sweetened soft drinks, GuruFocus noted. It will be launching a new line of unsweetened and slightly sweetened teas as well as building distribution for its glass bottle carbonated drinks, its Hawaiian Punch pouches, and bringing a new mineral water brand to the United States. GuruFocus recommends Dr. Pepper Snapple Group stocks, stating that stock is trading at 19.19 times foward PE. The corporation is looking at a dividend yield of 2.40 percent in 2015.

The reason so many companies across so many industries are turning to Lean Six Sigma is because it works. Six Sigma Training for your management and staff not only helps you improve your processes, but also helps you improve your brand through increased productivity and customer satisfaction. For more information, contact us.

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Is there room for improvement on your farm? Experts say yes.

He is just one of a number of consultants and experts who are turning to process improvement methodologies such as Lean Six Sigma in order to help farmers do what they do better.

Farms are getting larger and the processes are getting more complex with the addition of more regulations and the need to get more done with less money, in an efficient and environmentally friendly manner. According to a recent article from CountryGuide, it begs the question of farming operations: Is there room for improvement on your farm?

Yes, says Dick Wittman, an Idaho farmer and consultant and also a teacher of process improvement for Texas A&M University’s program for agricultural producers. He is just one of a number of consultants and experts who are turning to process improvement methodologies such as Lean Six Sigma in order to help farmers do what they do better.

Wittman’s program stresses the importance of formal, step-by-step processes through standard operating procedures. Not only do these formal processes help to prevent on-the-job accidents, but they also allow for evaluation. By breaking the processes down into these step-by-step pieces in order to determine if they’re valuable to streamlining the information, improving production or quality, or saving time.

Finding efficiencies, evaluating them, and implementing them are, in the words of Wittman, “the highest payback for management and time.” Wittman takes a class of farmers — a group that generally likes to grow stuff more than it likes writing stuff down — and helps them to realize the importance of formal processes. Through documentation, repetitive jobs can be evaluated to determine if the tasks can be done in a more efficient, safer, more economical way.

Standard Operating Procedures, the article notes, provide a great way to remember how to do tasks that are only done once in a while. Additionally, in a farming business, they can be used as a checklist for rewards and consequences. Some of the farming functions that Wittman recommends developing a list of operating procedures for include office functions; harvest and equipment operations and servicing; crop agronomic practices; fuel and farm supply and storage; worker safety guidelines; food safety practices; herd health and stock-handling procedures; and value-added market access and certification.

Does Lean Six Sigma work for farming businesses? Yes. It works for any business looking to improve its efficiency and reduce errors. For more information, contact us.

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Non-profit uses Lean Six Sigma to Reach More Needy Children

Recognizing the need to do even more, director Bridget Clark-Whitney decided to tap into the power of Lean Six Sigma training to help her organization become more effective.

Kid’s Food Basket was formed in 2002 with the goal of helping eliminate childhood hunger. During that time, this non-profit organization has experienced significant growth, expanding from serving 125 children daily to more than 6,400 every weekday. Its budget has also increased tremendously, going from only $20,000 in the beginning to more than $4.2 million last year. Kid’s Food Basket is currently one of the largest programs in Michigan that is dealing with childhood hunger.

Recognizing the need to do even more, director Bridget Clark-Whitney decided to tap into the power of Lean Six Sigma training to help her organization become more effective. In 2009, she reached out to Jay Ertl, the Vice President of Global Supply Solutions for Amway Corporation for help. Ertl is also the Chief Financial Officer and board treasurer for Kid’s Food Basket.

According to Ertl, Lean Six Sigma training can be very beneficial to non-profit organizations such as Kid’s Food Basket. He remarked that using some of the methods and techniques acquired from Lean Six Sigma can help charities become more effective in how they operate, resulting in lowered administrative costs that will allow them to reach more people.

Lean Six Sigma training was indeed very beneficial to Kid’s Food Basket, helping them to better organize processes and to modify certain equipment to make it multi-functional. Director Clark-Whitney was very pleased with results, claiming that Kid’s Food Basket learned to do more with what they had, in addition to better managing “space, resources, and inventory.” She also remarked that the lessons learned during Lean Six Sigma training were “now a part of our culture.”

Kid’s Food Basket currently has around 175 volunteers daily, with more than 20,000 people volunteering in some capacity each year. The charity is focused on continuing to grow, which is something they find much easier to do thanks to the Lean Six Sigma training they received.

The fact that this non-profit uses Lean Six Sigma to maximize its efforts should be encouraging to other charitable organizations as well. To find out how it could benefit your organization, contact us.

Click here to donate to Kid’s Food Basket.

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Get a Tax Break for Your Professional Development Training

A significant number of my online training students sign up after being advised by their career guidance counselors to get Six Sigma or Lean certification to help them get jobs.

The Lifetime Learning credit may be available on your tax return during the year in which you purchase and complete a professional development course. The credit is available for courses which qualify for job improvement skills, up to $2,000 (20% of the first $10,000 in tuition fees) per year. While I’m not an accountant I believe that courses in Lean Six Sigma probably qualify. A significant number of my online training students sign up after being advised by their career guidance counselors to get Six Sigma or Lean certification to help them get jobs. The Pyzdek Institute is on the Eligible Training Provider List for WIA funding in Colorado and in several other states.

There are, of course, various restrictions. Ask your accountant if you qualify for the Lifetime Learning Credit.

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