Process Improvement - ‘Quick Wins’ vs ‘Mile Deep Thinking’

Posted: Thursday, 15 March 2012 @ 14:54

How can we take advantage of a ‘Quick Win’ solution without comprising the rigour of any root cause analysis methodology, such as Six Sigma DMAICT?

IMAGINE you have been asked to fill a bath tub with water. You place the plug in its plughole, turn on the taps and, satisfied you have launched the task, you disappear into the kitchen for a cup of tea.

However, on your return to the bathroom to inspect progress, you discover that there is no water in the bath tub! As you look into the tub you see that the plug has been displaced from the hole. What do you do? Do you pop the plug back in firmly? Or do you launch a six-month investigation before trying again? Clearly you would stick the plug back in, pausing to check that the water isn’t knocking it out again. The reason for the empty bathtub would appear to be obvious (although the reason for the plug’s displacement may require some investigation) and you would get on with it.

If, however, you peered into the tub, saw that no water was collecting there despite the plug being in place and the water flowing freely, you would then probably rub your chin and ponder the reason for the water’s absence. That the tub is empty is plain to see –why it is empty is not evident and would require further investigation. Known problem . . .as yet unknown solution!

A trite example perhaps, but the dilemma that often faces improvement project leaders is that of addressing what appears to be an obvious fix, when their training has counselled against acting on ‘gut feel’.

The very name of ‘Quick Fix’ or ‘Quick Win’ seems to be derogatory of such impulsive action. Senior management too, are pressuring for results and yet the project leader knows he or she has to conduct a thorough analysis, following an extensive measure phase.

So are ‘Quick Wins’ legitimate? If so, are there any guidelines for recognising when a solution fix might be implemented, even though the project is still in the measure or analyse phase?...For more thoughts on the matter, click below to read the full article.

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