Design for Six Sigma – right the first time?

Yet another book on DfSS

This week I follow the first half of a “Black Belt” training for Design for Six Sigma at the R&D Center where I work. A few days of statistics exercises and quite a lot of administrative tools to track requirements. In the coming months I will run some activities according to the DfSS methodology to evaluate for which problem this is the right tool. To prepare for the course I read amongst others the book (shown right), Design for Six Sigma – Innovation for Enhanced Competitiveness by Gregory Watson.

It is a very American book with a strong focus on measurability and quantifiability of value in all business/development processes. Watson claims to transform every requirement to a dollar value upfront, so that it can be taken into account in the design process in the most profitable way.

I wonder which projects he has been running in his days. So far, I have yet to encounter a technology development project where anyone can define the requirements unambiguously upfront. Let alone have a customer choose specifically the absolute or relative value of each feature. My experience is that the true value of a new technology is only visible after the product has hit the market and the customers are learning how to get value out of the new tools. Based on this information, the next generation of the product can be adjusted and improved. Fast feedback loops is often better than a very clever feedforward controller.

I think that the credo “right the first time” is an illusion. I believe in “better next time”.


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