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Guide to Six Sigma Decision-Making Tools

written by: Heidi Wiesenfelder • edited by: Michele McDonough • updated: 3/25/2013

Six Sigma projects require a variety of key decisions based on data and Six Sigma principles. Team members have at their disposal a set of tools to aid in decision making. Depending on the decision to be made, they can use one of several established frameworks for making decisions objectively.

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    A Variety of Tools

    Here are basic descriptions of each of the tools. Refer to the articles linked in each section for more information about when and how to use each one.

    Kostya Kisleyko: Force Field Analysis: With a force field analysis, team members list the factors that support making a change and those that go against it. Ratings are assigned to each of these factors to estimate their strength, and the overall strengths of the factors for or against the change are calculated. The side that is rated highest represents the best decision.

    DACI:The DACI model is particularly helpful for clarifying who has the authority to make decisions. DACI is an acronym which represents the four different roles that exist. Drivers are responsible for coordinating the project overall and making decisions about how to proceed through each of the project phases. Approvers may or may not be involved in the detail work of the project team, but their approval is required for key decisions. Contributors do not have approval authority but can provide valuable information to aid in making effective decisions. Individuals in the Informed category merely need to be given information once a decision is made about what is changing and how it will affect them.

    Pugh matrix: A Pugh matrix lets Six Sigma teams compare options using a simple rating system. The team members establish a list of criteria and assign a weight to each based on its importance for achieving project goals. They then compare the options for each of the criteria against a standard. The standard may be the current situation, or the facilitator can simply select one of the options under consideration to serve as the standard. The choice does not affect the outcome. For each criterion, participants determine whether a given option is better or worse than the standard, designated by a plus sign (+) or minus sign (-). The total for each option calculated based on the weights and ratings determines the best choice.

    Multi-Voting: In this technique the facilitator helps the team create a list of possible decisions or improvements. Each participant is given a specific number of votes, often 3 or more, which he or she can assign to the options. Often participants draw dots or place stickers next to the written options to represent their votes. An individual can give all his or her votes to one option or spread them out among two or more. The top vote getters may then go through another round of multi-voting, depending on the number of original options and the number of voters.

    FMEA: Use a Failure Modes and Effects Analysis (FMEA) both for risk assessment when planning a change and when weighing different options for a process improvement. With this technique, team members list the possible problems that could arise under each scenario, and assign ratings to estimate how likely each problem is, how severe it would be, and how easily it could be detected before having impact. Based on the combined ratings, the team can determine which solution is best, and which of the potential risks of implementation must be addressed.

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