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Vishwadeep Khatri

Why DMAIC is not sponsored by some leaders?



DMAIC - is a data driven incremental process improvement methodology in the Six Sigma philosophy. It is acronym which stands for 

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


An application-oriented question on the topic along with responses can be seen below. The best answer was provided by R Rajesh on 07th October 2019.


Applause for the respondents- R Rajesh and Harinisp.


Also review the answer provided by Mr Venugopal R, Benchmark Six Sigma's in-house expert.


Q. 200  While most leaders seem to agree that DMAIC is a logical sequence, needs top management support, can be used flexibly and makes business sense, what are some of the Leadership reasons for not supporting this methodology wholeheartedly (in many companies)?


Note for website visitors - Two questions are asked every week on this platform. One on Tuesday and the other on Friday.


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4 answers to this question

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In my opinion, there are quite a few reasons as why DMAIC is not favoured by some of the leaders.

1. (Perceived) Time taken by the DMAIC project to showcase the right results to the relevant key stakeholders (whow may be keen to

see the outcome of the project), as they expect. Imagine that you are doing a black belt project which can take a minimum of 6 months - 1 year. Now with a DMAIC in place, you have some amount of work to do. You need to compare of measurement of AS-IS and TO-BE process. The comparison might be exhaustive and data collection can be time taking as well.  As DMAIC involves improvement of an existing process, completing the six sigma DMAIC project with the desired result can be a real nightmare for the leader who is in charge/accountable for the project.

2. Potential Complexity involved in data collection as more quantitative data and statistical tools are involved 

3. In the opinion of the leaders, there may not be a practical significance (outcome) despite a statistical significance by doing the six sigma DMAIC project.

4. As lot of data to be collected to compare the AS-IS and TO-BE systems, and also the fact that the measurement system is also intensive and complex and is time consuming, getting a dedicated(read motivated) team might be difficult  (in the opinion of the Six sigma leaders). Hence the leaders might feel DMAIC projects not worth trying under the circumstances.



As we had seen above there could be a number of reasons because of which leaders do not go for DMAIC. There could be some rare cases where Six Sigma leaders(say, of a Service Providing organisation) might be directly involved with customer business growth.


The customers might want the Six Sigma leader to be focusing more on their products(better product designing) rather than any of their process which in their opinion (and actually) is well placed. In that case, neither the six sigma leader nor the service providing organisation has got any chance. They nend to act as per the customers. So in this case DMAIC will go out of the way.


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Benchmark Six Sigma Expert View by Venugopal R

The is no organization that does not want improvement, right? While all organizations do want improvements
, the world has been evolving and inventing various management methodologies for bringing improvements to business. Some of the popular examples are PDCA, 8D, and DMAIC. The logical sequence of all these methods are comparable. So long as you follow the underlying expectations of each phase using any of these methods in the right sequence, it will work.


The question being discussed can be interpreted in two ways – “Why are some Leadership not supporting DMAIC ?” or “Why are some Leadership not supporting any of these systematic approaches ?”

The answer to first version could be due to specific reasons. For instance, an organization that has been very sincerely following the Japanese methods of management would have very well imbibed a continuous improvement culture in their organization and may not feel the necessity to have a branded Six Sigma program (under which DMAIC resides). However, if we carefully examine their approach, it probably satisfies the expectations of DMAIC.  This is indeed a positive situation, where DMAIC is not followed literally, but is followed in spirit.


The second version is where the Leadership does not seem to have any resistance particularly towards DMAIC, but have problems in supporting any such systematic sequence of approaching a business problem / opportunity. We will  discuss it keeping DMAIC as reference.


As many of you will be aware, improvement opportunities are classified into 4 categories viz.

1)      Cause known, Solution known

2)      Cause known, Solution unknown

3)      Cause unknown, Solution known

4)      Both cause and solution unknown


Point 1 and 2 may not require a full DMAIC cycle. However, even for points 3 and 4, sometimes, experienced leaders might feel that they know the cause and solution and tend to by-pass the full DMAIC cycle and force the company directly into the Improve phase –' just implement a solution that is considered right'. Later, if the understanding of the leaders proves wrong, then you will be forced to go back and try alternate solutions.


To do a ‘Define’ phase properly, there could be a need to gather data. The problem statement which is part of the Define phase, requires not only a description of the problem, but also some quantification, that too for a certain period of time. Where historical data is not readily available, efforts need to be put in to collect sufficient information to express the problem statement with numbers for magnitude, duration and Impact. Sometimes, there will be a resistance to get this done, supported by a feel as if ‘we know it all, so why not move ahead without wasting time and effort on defining known problem ?’  Another point that is often not completed in Define phase is the projection of Financial benefits, since this would require involving a Finance personnel and getting their sign off.


Measure phase requires efforts for not just building the baseline data, but also to initiate a ‘Dashboard’ for the project metrics. This dashboard needs to be updated continually till end of project and beyond. Another associated activity is the Measurements Systems Analysis, the importance of which may not be understood by some. Complying to MSA requirements, especially for attribute metrics requires good amount of discipline and management support.


By the time a project reaches the ‘Measure phase’ it is not uncommon to see some improvements on the ‘Y’ metrics. This happens due to the awareness generated by the project definition and the data by the dashboards. However, such improvements may be considered as ‘Quick wins’ and may not sustain unless a complete analysis is done on the influencing factors and ensuring the right control measures. The improvements at this stage sometimes sets complacency and the momentum to proceed with DMAIC may get reduced.


For a project that moves to Analyse phase, one of the activities that is often resisted is the need to validate the causes. The tendency to ‘assume’ the causes some times deprives some of the primary causes to be evaluated using recommended tools. This results in by-passing DMAIC. Reasons could be due to the time and cost involved in carrying out certain validations. 


Sometimes it may also happen that while one team is trying to systematically approach using the DMAIC method, a parallel team may work on the same problem and may hastily come up with recommended solutions, which could tempt the Leadership to support them, especially if there is an urgency to implement a solution.


For various reasons, if the DMAIC cycle prolongs too long, there is likelihood of losing interest in the method and tendency to proceed and ‘try out’ some solutions.


The DMAIC approach, like many others is meant to be driven by a team with a qualified leader. However, sometimes, the responsibility of driving it will rest on an individual, with inadequate team support. This can also result in break-down of the approach.


As per the original philosophy of Six Sigma, DMAIC is the tactical part of a larger governance program, which also has a Strategic and Cultural component. But many organizations no longer drive the Lean Six Sigma program with a holistic view. Even the series of in-house program that will impart awareness to all levels of employees, including an exclusive 'Champions Program' are not availed by many organizations. Instead they tend to directly hire qualified Blackbelts and Greenbelts. This would have eroded the awareness levels across organization and limited to a few individuals.


This subject seems to require long discussion and there would be more points to discuss. However, I am limiting my response here and sitting back to read the view points from others.

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Leaders find DMAIC regid by the name, it's a feeler that it's data centric and does not consider people's feelings in analysis unlike design thinking. Hence even though DMAIC is data driven in order to have people's /employees buying, it's minimal used

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