Tag Archives: lean six sigma

We are hiring:looking for Lean Six Sigma Black Belt(s)

Dear colleagues,

I am representing VRI,Inc., a US consulting and training in Lean Six Sigma, would like to inform that we are currently looking for good Lean Six Sigma Black Belts for a project with our client a US Oil/Gas company in Angola.

Below is the detail information.

Variance Reduction International, Inc.


Vacancy: Subcontractor Black Belt Position Posting

Positions: Subcontractor Black Belts.  Execution of Lean Six Sigma projects and mentoring of Green Belts executing their projects.

Compensations: we are offering very attractive compensation plus cover  the travel expense

Position Requirements:

  • Certified Lean Six Sigma or Six Sigma Black Belt
  • BA or BS degree
  • Expertise in executing the DMAIC roadmap for Lean Six Sigma projects
  • Expertise in Lean Six Sigma tools and methodology
  • Expertise in building a Lean Six Sigma project queue
  • Expertise in Lean Six Sigma project management
  • Expertise in evaluating the Voice of the Customer
  • Expertise in scoping a Lean Six Sigma project
  • Expertise in data analysis and interpretation
  • Expertise in capturing financial benefits of Lean Six Sigma projects
  • Expertise in mentoring others in the use of Lean Six Sigma tools and project deployment
  • Physically able to travel
  • Completed two Lean/Six Sigma projects with a financially verified benefit of greater than $50,000US (submit presentations of the projects along with application)
  • References from at least one Master Black Belt
  • Software expertise in SPC XL 2007 or 2010
  • Proven facilitative leadership and project management skills
  • Minimum of two years of Lean Six Sigma experience
  • Willing to travel to Angola
  • Able to work in a culturally diverse work environment

Desirable But Not Required Skills and Attributes:

  • Engineering degree
  • Expertise in Kaizen facilitation
  • Change management expertise

Location: Work to be performed in the client site in Angola.

Working schedule: Back to Back (BTB) 28 days on, 28 days off

Contractual Obligations: Agree to work as a subcontractor to Variance Reduction International, Inc. (VRI) for at least for 12 months, contract extensions will be awarded based on performance.  A default clause will be in effect for poor performance allowing VRI to terminate the contract.

For interested applicants please send CV to gedemanggala@variancereduction.com


if japan can …why can’t we?

a TV program aired by NBC in 1980 started a quality revolution in the US.

it takes more than 20 years (!) for Americans to understand the secret of Japan’s greatness in manufacturing and products is actually coming from some American thinkers, most notably W. Edwards Deming and Joseph Juran.

today,  61 years after Deming’s teaching in summer 1950 for Japan engineers and managers, the question is does Deming & Juran teaching still relevant to today’s business?

my answer is YES.

their teaching on customer focus, appreciation of a system, appreciation of people, understanding of variations and its root causes, the principle of continuous improvement, the focus on long term over short term gain, in fact more relevant today than it was.

it is so basic, eventhough for many conventional thinking it looks counter-intuitive

it is not just about lean or six sigma or TQM or QCCC or ISO or others….it is about the passion to deliver the best product and services to the customers. it is about growth and sustainability

for my Indonesian fellows, please allow me to ask this question

if Japan can…why can’t we?

again, using “average” from spreadsheet can give you wrong decision

based on a talk with my colleague, here is a story.

an improvement team formed to save production cost of a widget. Early in 2010 they start a new “improved” process. They track the result and the team show 10% improvement from $10/unit to $ 9/unit.

The comparison of 2009 vs 2010 is below.

If the improvement team and the management think the new process is better, they are wrong.

Every time we use spreadsheet, let’s use the graph to see: trend, indication of variations/stability and the shape of the distribution. With a simple run chart this is the chart from 2009 and 2010:

if you see, the new process in 2010, while in “average” lower than 2009, but in reality it only works in the first half of 2010, and show trend of increasing cost/unit. In fact, the cost by end of 2010 is higher than 2009.

In summary, be careful with your spreadheet…it show you data, but hide many information

appreciation of system: a view on Indonesian Railways

The first part of Deming’s System of Profound Knowledge is appreciation of a system.

I will make a case for PT. Kereta Api Indonesia/KAI (Indonesian Railways) as last week since there was another crashed involving two trains with 34 fatalities(!). And this was not the first time…

I don’t have any intention to say the problem in KAI is simple. It’s not; should it were simple, it would be solved years ago.

Yet, an appreciation of the system will help the management to improve it. Especially to blame any crash as a human error will not only ineffective, but also can be dangerous because does not touch the root cause.

The crucial part in understanding the system is to know who are the CUSTOMER(S). Then, what are their NEEDS? See below picture.

To know the customers and the voice of customers (VOC) are never easy, but it is very critical.

From PT. KAI website it was mentioned that the company have 4 main pillars: safety, timeliness, services and convenient. Yet, only timeliness have the measurement and performance tracking (only shown fore 2007-2008) in the form of “average lateness” and “average punctuality %).

In my opinion, KAI first and foremost must find out the voice of customers for SAFETY; what customers need. I believe this should be ZERO accident or zero fatality. That the vision, for example.

For each of performance parameter, KAI should have an operational definition (for example what are the parameters for SAFETY) and track the performance daily.

For instance, they could be: # accidents, # incidents, time between accident, etc.

Next step, track them daily and build a control chart to see if the system is stable or there is a special cause. Is the system capable, means it is within the customer requirement? (Will continue in the next post on Understanding Variation).

I believe all of the thinking on the system, customers need and control chart will lead the management to find a way to achieve the customers expectation.

Understanding the whole system will also help to understand the complexity if there is conflicting objectives (e.g. safety vs. cost) or any problem from the input and suppliers.

In summary, through a mindset like this, we can start a continuous improvement.

fooled by average #3: and 2 simple tools to avoid it

previously I posted two examples of the common misleading use of AVERAGE.

now, I will show my favorite tools (well, it’s graph) to avoid you are fooled by somebody’s using average.

In fact these two graphs are my favorite graphs (other than the pareto diagram): run chart and box plot.

Here is an imaginary story on how you can use those two graphs.

Imagine you are a sales manager, and you have 3 sales officers report to you: Ed, Jon, Lisa.  You have targeted them to sell at least $16/week.  You told them will send the best seller to Bvlgari hotel in Bali for a week of vacation with their family.

Now, by the end of the year, each of them coming to you and reported they have achieved the target. Each of them send you the full 52 weeks actual sales result (in a spreadsheet) and as they said, each of them in average has sold $16/week. Who deserve the nights at Bvlgari hotel?

Fortunately you are smarter now; you can’t be fooled by the average anymore. Not you.

First, you make a simple run chart. I.e. a simple graph showing the sales of each person over the 52 weeks.

Looking at run chart, you can see stability and trend. You can see, if you are using average, all of them has the same average at $16 (see the red bold line).

But this run chart tell you that Ed’s performance is very unstable. Lisa has an exceptional early performance, but she is getting worse and worse over time. Jon has show consistent performance and also he is getting better lately.

Next, to compare their result side by side, you make a box plot. This is a simple chart representing the distribution of each person’s performance.

This graph is strengthen your analysis on their performance.

Now you are about to pick up the phone, to tell the great news to the best sales of the year. Bulgari hotel, Bali…not bad at all…

Readers, do you know which one is the best sales based on the above two graphs?

fooled by average #2: “hey boss, we have increased productivity averagely by 50%!”

Have you ever heard anyone, your team member, or colleague, reported that he increased an important result AVERAGELY by a significant number, say 50% or more?

I’ve seen enough

That could mislead you.

Here I show an example in below graph and in an imaginary situation.

Imagine you were a leader of an important team to improve productivity. You have prepared your team and execute many actions. You tracked the performance “before” vs. “after” the improvement. Then you have the graph presented to your boss and all the executives in your company.

You showed them “Before” improvement, your productivity was AVERAGELY 10 pcs/day. “After” improvement the AVERAGE became 15 pcs/day. It is a 50% improvement! (refer to the graph).

You’re so excited to report this and your boss could not hide his happiness and you became the star of the month. Everybody’s happy and you got the award. But something looks wrong.

Now, you look at the graph closely, you know something is wrong with the 50% improvement (in this example, it’s easy to spot with naked eyes…in real world with thousands of data points, the misleading conclusion could not easily be caught).

What’s wrong?

  1. In determining the average/mean (or median or others), you need to know the shape of distribution. Average is only ok for a symmetric normal distribution.
  2. In addition to average, you need also to see the variance (through standard deviation).
  3. From the graph, we can see the “after” improvement performance has some issues that make the AVERAGE is not correct:
  • it is not stable (high variance)
  • it has a decreasing TREND. It’s only increasing in the first couple days, after that the trend is decreasing even to the lower point than before improvement
  • statistically, we need to check whether it’s normally distributed and the after improvement is really different than before.

In a nut shell, for making a representation of a set of data, at least you have to review 2 other things in addition to average (or median): the shape of distribution, and the variance of the distribution.


I deliberately put this at the end:

a box plot can help us to show several set of data side by side for graphical representation

there are several statistical tool can help us to test whether two set of data (or more) are different: could be t-test (for a pair of distribution) or analysis of variance (anova) for multiple set of data