Design for Six Sigma

How do other designers feel about “Design for Six Sigma”. Whether any designers are implementing this strategy, whether they’ve ever heard of it, any opinions basically. The whole concept is very ‘engineering’ based, but it offers many benefits to product development. In case you haven’t heard of it… instead of googling it here’s a brief run dow:

Design For Six Sigma is:
A methodology for designing new products and/or
A methodology for re-designing existing products
and/or processes.
A way to implement the Six Sigma methodology as
early in the product or service life cycle as possible.
A way to exceed customer expectations.
A way to gain market share.
A strategy toward extraordinary ROI.

At my job they have introduced D-MVP which is similar, and I’m mixed on it. Yes its very engineering based especially since we use charts with numbers for the process. It would work “if” people took the time to use it. Unfortunatly people dont, and we have to take marketings word that they’ve done the work. If everyone stands behind it, it can be very powerful.


“They” is the problem with DFSS. Management is still running around with the quality hammer. Ask them to give you some case studies of successful DFSS outcomes! Name ONE breakthrough product that owes its success to DFSS?

It ends there as far as I’m concerned. But if that isn’t enough, here’s some ammo:

“Most companies’ managers will tell you that they have spent the bulk of their time over the past decade on improvement. Now it’s no longer enough to get better, you have to ‘get different.’ " -Roger Martin, Rotman School of Management

“Design may be as important to corporate management today as Six Sigma was in the '90s” –Business Week, 4/18/2005

“The success of Six Sigma has turned quality into a “commodity,” so much so that it is no longer the determining factor for which brand to buy. Design is “la difference.” In a world loaded with stuff that looks like all the other stuff and performs like all the other stuff, it is a way to stand out.” –Tom Peters

i wonder if wallmart does that.

its just another case of creating useless jobs and “systems”

systems that hinder and muddy the water more than helping the process.

thanks for the replies guys. The engineers at the company I work for have taken upon themselves to hold sixsig up high with great esteem. I guess it’s the result of working for a company that’s got manufacturing as its bread and butter. I’ve found that their latest endeavors into dfss have got them trying to whip up some more dust. I’ve got the opportunity to participate in training, but as a designer, I’m a bit weary. We’ll see…

UFO: A lot of the retailers that boast inventory to shelves just in time are working some form of lean management, which assumes refinements over time rather than good design from the start.

As for 6S, Lean, 5nines, etc., and every other time some new management buzzword passes me, I tell myself it is the effort of some organizational genius to help corporate managers figure out how to get the company cogs to provide results through hard work.

Bear in mind that these “methods” are for the worker bee 80% vs. the talented 20% who can “eureka” their way along. Sure, the methods can work for the talented when their is a creative block but they have never been able to model how the brilliant come up with their answers.

And since they have normally worked their way up from the cogs that make up 80% of the company, most corporate managers have no idea how to tap the creativity of the most talented people in the company. And those that have learned that often have no idea how to reward the creativity, especially when an army of people are doing most of the grunt work. IOW, the highest paid guy in the company should be the one who thought up the killer product in the first place.


I keep hearing that quote about…“pretty planes fly faster, and then the stealth fighter came along…”

I don’t mean to burst your bubble, but that analogy is just wrong, in the sense that the stealth fighter’s strength is it’s “stealth” which has nothing to do with speed. The “design” of the stealth fighter allows for that …stealth, by evasion/reflection of radar… and in fact, the geometric configuration made aerodynamics quite difficult. Yes, it can fly, (and i’ve also heard the quote, from an aeronautic engineer…“give me enough engines (or power) and i can make a refrigerator fly”.) but it is not the most aerodynamically friendly aircraft.

I must add, i am not an aviation expert, but i do read a bit…and design.

…3.4 defects per million opportunities…if your tolerances are big enough…no worries