Six Sigma and Design Thinking

 

Manager presenting DMAIC continuous improvement tools for process quality

Since its inception, Six Sigma training has helped companies from Bank of America to Staples to Progressive Insurance change the way they approach business management. Leaning away from the old methods, this system analyzes new ways for companies to improve their operations and make them as efficient as possible.

Companies that decide to adopt the Six Sigma approach are taught a new skill set called “design thinking.” With innovation as its goal, design thinking aims to understand real-world problems that customers face every day and then uncover various cost-effective solutions.

In the business world, these two skill sets don’t always mesh well. Chuck Jones, vice president for global consumer design at Whirlpool, explains that design thinkers are better able to think outside the box and consider anything as theoretically possible. However, most people tend to think more analytically and have difficulty grasping new concepts.

Six Sigma helps business management teams to change that. Design thinking is steering companies more towards cost efficient, consumer-influenced production while getting away from the mindset of “fix it and forget it.” Businesses that openly adopt the new approach can get ahead of their competition and are better able to survive when something goes awry in the business market.

This is because they now have the tools to expand into new opportunities and even improve their existing products. Those companies that stick firmly to past successful methods put themselves at risk for failure in the future.

At Whirlpool, Jones proved how design thinking helped his company become a major player in the front-loader market after the introduction of the Duet washer and dryer. The success lead to the creation of additional Six Sigma projects that have further pushed Whirlpool ahead of its competitors. Whirlpool’s success story demonstrates how both analytical and design thinkers can work together to improve their products and thrive in an ever-changing business market.

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