Category Archives: 1-By Laksh

All these articles are from Laksh’s desk

Six Sigma and Business Intelligence


Six sigma approach can be used both in improve an existing process and creating a new process.
Six sigma improvement methodology for a a process or product is composed of five specific steps: Define, Measure,Analyze, Improve, and Control (DMAIC). At each stage, data is collected, analyzed, and acted on in a closed-loop system that leads to lasting, continuous improvement and better performance.
   DMAIC :
Define: identify and articulate the requirements for each process and how they need to be improved to meet customer expectations.
Measure: identify the data sources and additional information that are used to convey how the process works.
Analyze: examine each process in depth and in detail from a customer perspective to determine what’s causing the defects or deviations.
Improve: identify solutions to reduce or eliminate defects and deviations and develop a plan to implement them.
Control: modify existing processes and structures or implement new ones that can ensure that the improved process remains within an acceptable performance range.
 DFSS-Design for Six sigma methodology, for a new process is composed of five specific steps: Define, Measure, Analyze, Design and Verify/Validate
 Define: initiate, scope and plan the project (resources, constraints etc)
 Measure: understand customer needs and specify the key quality measures as perceived by the customer; benchmark competitors and industry
 Analyze: review the current process and map it to the desired process to meet the customer requirements
 Design: develop a detailed design for the ‘should-be’ process
 Verify/ Validate: test process and validate the performance against the key measures


Six Sigma projects have resulted in tangible, often dramatic improvements in many different areas: cost reduction, productivity improvement, market growth, customer retention, cycle time reduction, and product and service quality. Examples of Six
Sigma successes both large and small abound.
 Here are three:
1.      MOTOROLA: Remarkable ‘turnaround’ performance
The 1980s were a harrowing time for Motorola. Overseas competition was eating away at its market share. Top company leaders agreed that the quality of their productswas substandard. Existing quality programs had no effect and Six Sigma was introduced.   In the decade between Six Sigma’s beginning in 1987 and 1997, achievements included the following:
·         Five fold growth in sales, with a 20% increase in its annual profit
·         Cumulative savings of US$14 billion
·         Stock price gains compounded to an annual rate of 21.3 percent
2.      HONEYWELL: Business Transformation
AlliedSignal (now Honeywell) began its Six Sigma activities in the early 1990s. Achievements include the following:
·         Annual savings of $600 million after only a few years.
·         Reduced the amount of time required to design and certify new aircraft engines from 42 months to 33.
·         In 1998, the company recorded productivity increases of six per cent and record profit margins of 13 per cent.
3.      G.E: Holistic development
The most commonly cited and widely studied Six Sigma success story is G.E. Unhappy with the quality of the company’s products, and armed with a simple yet powerful idea that each of G.E unit had to be No.1 or No.2 in its market, Chairman Jack Welch launched an aggressive Six Sigma program with considerable fervor.
As they were for Motorola and Honeywell, the results were dramatic and across varied businesses:
·         G.E.’s lighting unit cut invoice defects and disputes with Wal-Mart (one of their biggest customers) by 98 per cent, speeding payment and improving productivity for both companies.
·         Streamlined contract review processes at one of G.E. Capital’s service businesses led to increased responsiveness and more completed deals for annual savings of $1 million
·         G.E Power systems registered annual savings of hundreds of thousand dollars just by addressing the burning needs of its utility customers identified through Six Sigma approach of process improvement.
·          G.E. Capital Mortgage analyzed the processes at one of its best-performing branches and expanded them to its42 other branches. This improved the rate of customers receiving a “live” G.E. employee from 76 to 99 per cent.
 Other companies, including Black & Decker,Bombardier, Caterpillar, Dow Chemical, FedEx,Kodak, Sony, Toshiba, and many others have all implemented or are implementing Six Sigma projects of their own.
Six Sigma has its roots in manufacturing, but its unprecedented success has led many to adopt its principles and apply them in other sectors.
 The following examples are all drawn from The Six Sigma Way: How G.E., Motorola,
and Other Top Companies are Honing Their Performance, McGraw-Hill, 2002.
At the post office:
• 300,000 letters delivered—
with 99 per cent accuracy = 3,000 misdeliveries
with Six Sigma = 1 misdelivery
In the IT department:
• 500,000 computer restarts—
with 99 per cent reliability = 4,100 crashes
with Six Sigma = less than 2
In Finance:
• 500 years of month-end closings—
with 99 per cent accuracy = 60 months not
balanced with Six Sigma = 0.018 months
not balanced
In Broadcasting:
• For every week of TV broadcasting—
with 99 % of airtime filled = 1.68 hours of dead
air with Six Sigma = 1.8 seconds
Business intelligence is taking all the necessary corporate data about your business and turning it into meaningful understanding. BI creates the right kind of information base in bring about reliability into the planning process. BI can aggregate and consolidate disparate internal and external (third-party) data from different sources and applications into a central framework and creates a contextual collaborative platform within a department or an entire organization.
 BI can be deployed at the department level to support a specific DMAIC Six Sigma project
(for example: reporting and analyzing the deviations in an existing  process), or enterprise-wide to measure and manage an entire company’s performance with reference to a group of projects. Organizations can use BI to align operations with strategy and to measure performance against overall business goals.
Six Sigma initiative takes place at three levels—thinking, doing and communicating. A Business intelligence solution, delivered as an enterprise portal, becomes the ideal platform for all the levels of a typical Six Sigma initiative. It provides a visual presentation layer for the wide variety of reports and statistics that a Six Sigma projects initiative requires, while offering an enterprise wide communication platform..
BI can help companies analyze cost of poor quality and track the costs of each business process or Six Sigma project. It can identify bottlenecks in supply chains, isolate specific defects in manufacturing, errors in accounting, and other “defects” that result out of the process execution.
(Note: Defect in Six Sigma parlance is anything that causes customer dissatisfaction)
Six Sigma is a highly statistical and data-driven process where In a Six Sigma approach every business problem is first converted into a statistical problem. Hence Six Sigma is a highly statistical and data-driven process. The success of a Six Sigma project depends on employees’ ability to collect and analyse  the volumes of data that even a small-scale project can create and then communicate that understanding to the rest of the team

If a Six Sigma project is cross-functional,  the sheer volume of cross tabs, spreadsheets, and other charts scattered across the business units  can make some employees hesitant to undertake a project. Black belts/Green belts and six sigma associates need a way to communicate facts in a way that is easy-to-understand and that enables quick decision making.
Early and quick Six Sigma wins in a particular department or a business unit can
help build momentum for  more projects in the future and set the pace for the acceptance for Six Sigma within the organization.  Two main criteria for achieving these wins are having accurate information, and having it as soon as possible. This
ensures that all the departments involved can agree on data sources, performance thresholds, defect definitions, and performance targets. There are two barriers:
using data from different systems that collect data in different ways, and using data sets that are refreshed at different rates.
  Improving work practices within business processes requires collaboration in context
while tapping into communities of practice as sources of best practices and innovation[1]. As a company becomes increasingly interconnected, one single defect can adversely affect performance in any number of areas. Finding the cause of this defect and eliminating it using a quality initiative like Six Sigma can mean having to look at several processes across various departments or business units.
 Individuals and teams need to understand their roles, their responsibilities, and the cross-functional impact of their decisions more clearly.  This can be done more easily if all the members have information readily available and to share. This information also needs to be shared with a company’s external stakeholders.

Crimson Tide

Awsome movie!!

Gene Hackman and Denzel Washington are just brilliant in this Tony Scott’s film. While Gene Hackman plays a man who has earned his stripes in the battle, Denzel is smooth talking, Harvard educated tough soldier.

Set in a submarine, that is used to fire a nuclear missile, the movie exploits the best in acting talents of Denzel and Hackman. They battle it out, first in words, later in actions.  
The key aspect about this movie is a great and consistent characterization…once the shades are revealed, they continue till the end. For instance, the cocky demeanour of Gene Hackman is retained till the titles roll….


Indrapuri is a colony on the outskirts of the city. More dust than tarmac.
That summer afternoon the dust hung in the air. The main street was barren. Only if you peered hard, would you find an occasional stray dog panting in the shade.

Though there were more than thirty houses, no one was outside.

As if just to disturb the stillness, a middle-aged woman opened a door and stepped out into the blinding sunlight. She walked slowly to the community tap.

With mute understanding, several other doors opened. The utensils were placed neatly in a line.

Women chatted and exchanged news. Kids played. Grandpa chewed his tobacco stick. The routine appeared well rehearsed.
~ * ~

They had been lining up for water like that for years, though they all knew that the tap was dry. It was the water tanker that they waited for.

In other parts of the city, too, the water supply was a problem. But in Indrapuri, the people waited for the tanker throughout the year. Thrice a week.

But in summer, the tanker made it only once a week.

~ * ~

A bored kid spotted the yellow tanker first.

The crowd surged. The dogs came to life.

The driver parked the tanker near the tap. Grandpa kept his tobacco aside carefully and stood by his utensils. The women finally started chatting.

For a moment the street smelled wet. Then it was time for the tanker to leave.

Just then a kid screamed. He had slipped and hit himself against the curb. But it was only a scratch. Grandpa came forward and tied a small cloth around his forehead. The driver stopped and gave him some candy. The crowd smiled.

Then the engine roared into action, and the street became silent once again.

~* ~

No one had noticed the stranger. Or his camera that clicked away silently.

Yadagiri worked for an evening newspaper. The newspaper sold more near traffic lights than at newsstands.

He was on his way to photograph a monkey at the zoo who had bitten a guard. Or was it the other way round?

It was good that he had stopped for a smoke when the tanker had arrived.

~* ~

At his desk, he took stock. The photographs he had taken at the zoo were no good. The monkey had not been cooperative; nor had the guard.

Surprisingly, the Indrapuri photos had come out well. Especially the one with the kid. The new Editor liked grim faces, poverty, dust, cracked earth and stuff like that. It sold well to the masses, too. And it could, perhaps, fetch him an award.

~* ~

The Editor himself wrote the caption: “Boy spills blood for sip of water?”

~* ~

Bhageeratha Rao, MLA, lazily scanned the papers that his assistant had left on the table. He had a hangover, but the coffee was not helping.

He had switched loyalties to another party when the tide turned. He had won the seat, but the party had lost. He could not become a Minister. “Why couldn’t they make a member of the Opposition a minister, even if it meant amending the Constitution?!” He was dreaming about the Chair when his eyes fell on the photograph.

He read the name of the colony: Indrapuri… It took him a while to realize that the colony was a part of his constituency. His eyes took on a gleam. His headache disappeared. So did his plans of amending the Constitution.

The coffee tasted better now.

~* ~

In the Assembly, it was the fag end of Question Hour. The Opposition members were badgering the ruling party. The ministers were trying their best, but were tired with the booing and the desk thumping. The backbenchers were waiting for the whole business to end. Some were snoring.

Bhageeratha Rao rose to speak. He got up slowly. His crumpled khadi clothes slowly straightened themselves, as if they were relieved of a burden.

“Mr. Speaker Sir! The water problem has increased tremendously,” he said, waving the newspaper.

Nobody seemed to notice. Some of the members smirked. “What’s new?” everyone seemed to ask silently.

There was no reaction, not even from his party colleagues.

But Rao continued, “Sir, I cannot explain the hardships they are facing just to get a sip of water,” he said.

He was surprised at the ruling party’s reaction: There was none. But he knew how to get one.

“If the government cannot provide basic amenities then what is the use of ‘so called’ development?”

This managed to get some response from his party members. He reminded the House that many farmers had committed suicide recently.

The discussion strayed. There was a heated debate about the government’s performance, or the lack of it, in every field, and the irresponsible behavior of the Opposition parties. The irrigation minister then remarked that the previous government was largely responsible for the water scarcity. This was the opportunity that Rao had been waiting for. Shouting that the ruling party was making irresponsible statements, he led a dramatic walkout.

The member who awoke last followed hurriedly.

~* ~

The crossroads near the Secretariat was abuzz. Flags, cutouts, banners… were everywhere. Bhageeratha Rao sat in the makeshift tent with his party colleagues. They had seen to it that empty pots and utensils were spread all over the place. It was a field day for the press.

Rao announced that he was staging a protest against the water scarcity problem plaguing the city. As the cameras clicked and the TV crews followed his every move, Rao placed his weight gingerly in the middle of the road. He prayed that the police would come early, before the TV crews left.

He tried hard not to smile. His pictures would look good on the front pages.

~* ~

The protesters had blocked all traffic. Thousands of vehicles were stranded in long lines. The noise was deafening.

The police talked incessantly over their walkie-talkies. They were doing their best in the sweltering heat. But it would take a few hours before things became normal.

The driver of the yellow tanker knew this too. After all, this was not the first time he was stuck in a traffic jam that Bhageeratha Rao had caused.

The driver was way behind schedule and was on edge. How would he reach all four colonies on time? Should he take a detour? But that road would take him almost as long too.

His thoughts were interrupted by a jolt. Someone had hit the vehicle from behind. He got down cursing and surveyed the damage.

It was pretty bad.

But, who cared? He had decided not to go on anyway.

~* ~

The people of Indrapuri slowly dispersed from the community tap — the sun was going down. The women were irritable; they had not really exchanged news. The bored kid kicked a stone aimlessly. Grandpa picked up his tobacco stick again; he was wondering whether the tanker would now come every two weeks. 

                                                * * *

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  Published in Sulekha