six sigma vs. ucd?

22 May 2008 - 1:47am
5 years ago
6 replies
842 reads
Zayera Khan
2008

Hello,

I have recently come across Six Sigma methodology (also Design for Six
Sigma), and was wondering if anyone on the mailinglist has experience
applying this methodology when it comes to "design, user experience and
innovation"?
Do you think it can substitute or perhaps even promote user-centered design
approach in a business context?
I would be glad to get some tips about best practices and case studies
regarding this topic, thanks.

Regards,
Zayera

Comments

22 May 2008 - 5:37am
Alexander Baxevanis
2007

I work (not for much longer) for the company that "invented" Six-Sigma
and to the best of my knowledge it's not being used for anything
related to user experience.

Basically, six-sigma started off as a quality improvement process for
manufacturing & project execution in general. You can check wikipedia
(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Six_Sigma) for more details, but the
main goal is to reduce "defects", where defects can be defined as
"anything that could lead to customer dissatisfaction".

I guess you could say that this is one of the goals of design as well,
but then again Six-Sigma is also focused on "achieving measurable and
quantifiable financial returns" & "making decisions on the basis of
verifiable data, rather than assumptions and guesswork".
Unfortunately, you can't always measure the impact of good interaction
design to the last dollar, and you can't reduce user needs to
"verifiable data".

Cheers,
Alex

On Thu, May 22, 2008 at 7:47 AM, Zayera Khan <zayera.khan at gmail.com> wrote:
> Hello,
>
> I have recently come across Six Sigma methodology (also Design for Six
> Sigma), and was wondering if anyone on the mailinglist has experience
> applying this methodology when it comes to "design, user experience and
> innovation"?
> Do you think it can substitute or perhaps even promote user-centered design
> approach in a business context?
> I would be glad to get some tips about best practices and case studies
> regarding this topic, thanks.
>
> Regards,
> Zayera
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
> List Help .................. http://www.ixda.org/help
>

22 May 2008 - 9:29am
Chauncey Wilson
2007

There are many methods in Six Sigma that are useful in design and
evaluation. Here are a few that I've used:

Cause and effect (Fishbone or Ishikawa) diagrams to look for root causes

The 5 Why's to get past symptoms and look for causes. This is also a
good interviewing technique (similar to laddering which is also
useful) to get past superficial answers to questions.

Pareto diagrams for summative testing results to help determine where
to focus efforts.

Affinity diagramming to look for patterns and themes in qualitative data.

Cost-benefits analysis to look at issues with different design
solutions (here costs and benefits can be monetary, but also social,
political, etc.)

Chauncey

On Thu, May 22, 2008 at 2:47 AM, Zayera Khan <zayera.khan at gmail.com> wrote:
> Hello,
>
> I have recently come across Six Sigma methodology (also Design for Six
> Sigma), and was wondering if anyone on the mailinglist has experience
> applying this methodology when it comes to "design, user experience and
> innovation"?
> Do you think it can substitute or perhaps even promote user-centered design
> approach in a business context?
> I would be glad to get some tips about best practices and case studies
> regarding this topic, thanks.
>
> Regards,
> Zayera
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
> List Help .................. http://www.ixda.org/help
>

22 May 2008 - 10:51am
Todd Moy
2007

>From a SixSigma / Lean perspective, here are the ones that I think of often:

Elimination of waste (aka "Muda"):
Basically, activities that don't change the fit, form, or function of a
product are candidates to be cut out. I use this to determine what is the
absolute minimal load I should impose on a user (either procedurally or in
data entry).

Poke-Yoke (Error proofing)
Make it impossible or at least hard to make a mistake. This involves
designing objects that indicate their function (i.e. affordances). It also
means anticipating where users are likely to make an error and building in
recovery mechanisms. This could be used in designing forms that prevent
users from entering data incorrectly--or that reformat it when appropriate.

Voice of the Customer
Not as Lean employs this tool, but I like the concept. Getting requirements
from talking to your users--what a concept :D

On Thu, May 22, 2008 at 10:29 AM, Chauncey Wilson <chauncey.wilson at gmail.com>
wrote:

> There are many methods in Six Sigma that are useful in design and
> evaluation. Here are a few that I've used:
>
> Cause and effect (Fishbone or Ishikawa) diagrams to look for root causes
>
> The 5 Why's to get past symptoms and look for causes. This is also a
> good interviewing technique (similar to laddering which is also
> useful) to get past superficial answers to questions.
>
> Pareto diagrams for summative testing results to help determine where
> to focus efforts.
>
> Affinity diagramming to look for patterns and themes in qualitative data.
>
> Cost-benefits analysis to look at issues with different design
> solutions (here costs and benefits can be monetary, but also social,
> political, etc.)
>
> Chauncey
>
> On Thu, May 22, 2008 at 2:47 AM, Zayera Khan <zayera.khan at gmail.com>
> wrote:
> > Hello,
> >
> > I have recently come across Six Sigma methodology (also Design for Six
> > Sigma), and was wondering if anyone on the mailinglist has experience
> > applying this methodology when it comes to "design, user experience and
> > innovation"?
> > Do you think it can substitute or perhaps even promote user-centered
> design
> > approach in a business context?
> > I would be glad to get some tips about best practices and case studies
> > regarding this topic, thanks.
> >
> > Regards,
> > Zayera
> > ________________________________________________________________
> > Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> > To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> > Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> > List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
> > List Help .................. http://www.ixda.org/help
> >
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
> List Help .................. http://www.ixda.org/help
>

--
____________________________
http://www.oombrella.com
oombrella /a/ gmail.com

22 May 2008 - 12:18pm
Katie Albers
2005

Six Sigma was designed by Motorola for use in its principally
manufacturing-based business. It's designed to eliminate errors in
manufacturing and business processes (and the latter was shoehorned
in). Its influence has spread out of all proportion to its usefulness
because it involves lots of numbers and processes which tend to make
bean-counters happy, because they make endeavors feel less like
herding cats.

Although it enjoys enormous popularity these days, I firmly believe
that using it in any area where just about every question can best be
answered by "It depends" and where the desired goal is a viceral or
intellectual human reaction rather than a perfect cell phone, is
seriously misguided at best and detrimental in nearly all cases.

Yes, you need to have processes available for people to use and refer
to, but requiring their use in every case is foolish. Yes, you need
to have goals for performance, but you don't necessarily measure
those goals the same way every time.

I have always avoided using it and companies that use it (or a
similar methodology) like the plague.

my .02

Katie

At 8:47 AM +0200 5/22/08, Zayera Khan wrote:
>Hello,
>
>I have recently come across Six Sigma methodology (also Design for Six
>Sigma), and was wondering if anyone on the mailinglist has experience
>applying this methodology when it comes to "design, user experience and
>innovation"?
>Do you think it can substitute or perhaps even promote user-centered design
>approach in a business context?
>I would be glad to get some tips about best practices and case studies
>regarding this topic, thanks.
>
>Regards,
>Zayera

--

----------------
Katie Albers
katie at firstthought.com

22 May 2008 - 1:28pm
David Adam Edelstein
2008

Here's an interesting article from last year about the practice of Six Sigma
at 3M. Summary: It didn't work well for them.

http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/07_24/b4038406.htm

Excerpt:

...four and a half years after arriving, McNerney abruptly left for a bigger
opportunity, the top job at Boeing (BA ). Now his successors face a
challenging question: whether the relentless emphasis on efficiency had made
3M a less creative company. That's a vitally important issue for a company
whose very identity is built on innovation. After all, 3M is the birthplace
of masking tape, Thinsulate, and the Post-it note. It is the invention
machine whose methods were consecrated in the influential 1994 best-seller
Built to Last by Jim Collins and Jerry I. Porras. But those old hits have
become distant memories. It has been a long time since the debut of 3M's
last game-changing technology: the multilayered optical films that coat
liquid-crystal display screens. At the company that has always prided itself
on drawing at least one-third of sales from products released in the past
five years, today that fraction has slipped to only one-quarter.

Those results are not coincidental. Efficiency programs such as Six Sigma
are designed to identify problems in work processes-and then use rigorous
measurement to reduce variation and eliminate defects. When these types of
initiatives become ingrained in a company's culture, as they did at 3M,
creativity can easily get squelched. After all, a breakthrough innovation is
something that challenges existing procedures and norms. "Invention is by
its very nature a disorderly process," says current CEO George Buckley, who
has dialed back many of McNerney's initiatives. "You can't put a Six Sigma
process into that area and say, well, I'm getting behind on invention, so
I'm going to schedule myself for three good ideas on Wednesday and two on
Friday. That's not how creativity works."

22 May 2008 - 3:47pm
Todd Moy
2007

Having been through Lean / Six Sigma, I do agree with David's point as well
as the conclusions drawn by the article he cites. In general, Six Sigma is
really overwrought and demands a lot of time. It is definitely not designed
for "messy" environments where deviations are encouraged in the name of
innovation. Six Sigma seems best for sustaining what you already know.

But that's not to say it doesn't have some value. If it were applied to the
wrong culture--say, a design studio--then I don't think the results would be
very good. I think it would stifle innovation. But a design team could use
some of Six Sigma's philosophies to ensure its products' users are,
themselves, able to work without error or interruption.

Cautionary note though. Just steer clear of Six Sigma's demeaning "green
belt," "black belt" and "sensei" levels of aptitude. Those are just inane.

On Thu, May 22, 2008 at 2:28 PM, David Adam Edelstein <dae at davidadam.com>
wrote:

> Here's an interesting article from last year about the practice of Six
> Sigma at 3M. Summary: It didn't work well for them.
>
> http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/07_24/b4038406.htm
>
> Excerpt:
>
> ...four and a half years after arriving, McNerney abruptly left for a
> bigger opportunity, the top job at Boeing (BA ). Now his successors face a
> challenging question: whether the relentless emphasis on efficiency had made
> 3M a less creative company. That's a vitally important issue for a company
> whose very identity is built on innovation. After all, 3M is the birthplace
> of masking tape, Thinsulate, and the Post-it note. It is the invention
> machine whose methods were consecrated in the influential 1994 best-seller
> Built to Last by Jim Collins and Jerry I. Porras. But those old hits have
> become distant memories. It has been a long time since the debut of 3M's
> last game-changing technology: the multilayered optical films that coat
> liquid-crystal display screens. At the company that has always prided itself
> on drawing at least one-third of sales from products released in the past
> five years, today that fraction has slipped to only one-quarter.
>
> Those results are not coincidental. Efficiency programs such as Six Sigma
> are designed to identify problems in work processes-and then use rigorous
> measurement to reduce variation and eliminate defects. When these types of
> initiatives become ingrained in a company's culture, as they did at 3M,
> creativity can easily get squelched. After all, a breakthrough innovation is
> something that challenges existing procedures and norms. "Invention is by
> its very nature a disorderly process," says current CEO George Buckley, who
> has dialed back many of McNerney's initiatives. "You can't put a Six Sigma
> process into that area and say, well, I'm getting behind on invention, so
> I'm going to schedule myself for three good ideas on Wednesday and two on
> Friday. That's not how creativity works."
>
>

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