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Five words can lead to big improvements

By Gino Fontana, CTP – COO and EVP

as featured in FleetOwner

Five words can lead to big improvements

While no business is perfect, most business managers are continually trying to find ways to get closer to perfection. Without even knowing it, I think many of us are employing the Six Sigma DMAIC improvement process in our problem-solving.

If you are familiar with DMAIC, it breaks down like this:

D: Define
M: Measure
A: Analyze
I: Improve
C: Control

The process starts by defining the problem or area that needs improvement. Being specific here is extremely helpful. You want to make sure you are solving the right problem.

The next step is to look at your current performance in the problem area. Is the problem a one-off situation or is it something systemic? Systemic problems are the ones best solved with the DMAIC process. Look at where there are bottlenecks or weaknesses in the current process and ferret out unclear policies and procedures.

The analysis phase is used to find the root cause of the problem. Much like troubleshooting a vehicle with several fault codes, finding the root cause of the problem is the only way to correct it permanently. If you simply treat the symptoms and not the true cause of the problem, it will continue to recur.

Once you have found the root cause, you can move the improvement step to make changes to processes, procedures or policies that will correct the problem. This is also where you will deploy whatever resources—people and technology—needed to implement the solution.

The last step—and perhaps the most important—is control. This is about quality control and regularly monitoring the new solution to see if your solution truly resolved the issue or if you need to refine it.

While there are many ways to improve your business, using something like DMAIC with its structured approach ensures you don’t overlook any key elements and likely will result in real positive changes.