Thursday, July 26, 2012

Cause and Effect



Cause and Effect.

It’s what we do, each day, everyday, as long as we’re physically able.  We esentially cause an effect good, bad or indifferent, changing or transforming something.  Defect and/or cycle time specific, the goal is to be defects and waste free without sacrificing quality and safety.  A goal is to be flawless each time every time, in effect creating perfect product and service.

Realistically, the laws of physics are against us.  Thank God for something called tolerances.  I like to use the golf swing as my example to illustrate what I mean.  First, I’m lousy at golf.  A good day is when I break 120 (I know, sad).  With that said, it proves that I am far from perfect, but that should not prevent me from trying my best to execute a perfect swing.  Several times in my life I was able to drive past 320 yards and straight as an arrow, or making a 40 foot put knt knowing what I did right (or wrong) to create these “effects”.  Whatever “cause” I created to end up with the desired “effect” was instantly lost in memory eye and hand coordination.  No matter how hard I tried, I could not duplicate this near perfect event (perfect would’ve meant a hole in one, of course, on television, in front of Tiger Woods). 

Resuming the discussion on cause and affect attempts to execute perfectly each and every time is not possible but products and services that fall within tolerance will satisfy customer needs, a least that’s the plan and so far has worked and been working.  Any results outside tolerance will reject parts considered unacceptable.  

So what are these conditions that cause fluctuations in our attempts for perfection?  In a golf swing, it could represent a whole host of things, inherent and unassuming.  In our golf swing example, these are the hand placement, speed and timing, head face-ball contact, small and many nuances that reflect the outcome of the swing. We call these events “common cause variations” as they’re there, identified as problems but not typically significant enough to destructively affect the outcome.  Special cause variation, however, are those that stand out like “sore thumbs” usually intermittent, and require immediate attention as these types normally adversely affect outcomes. Back to the golf swing these are the sonic booms or earthquakes or broken club type of causes.



As we work on Lean Six Sigma projects, we will face defects and cycle time decisions that will have us examine cause and effects and determine which cause variations to address.  Some of them are evident such as replacing a burnt light bulb in a dark room; others may require identification quantifiable metrics and complex statistical analysis to come up with effective and appropriate solutions either way it’ll require the selection of the right tool for the right job from two large boxes called Lean and Six Sigma.

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