Bookshelf: Design For Six Sigma

Two new books offer twists on process improvement program.

Remember Design For Six Sigma (DFSS)? Back in 2002, author Subir Chowdhury described the difference between Six Sigma and DFSS as "the difference between getting a tune-up and getting a brand-new engine." The former focuses on improving existing processes, the latter on building in quality from the start.

Since then, the number of tomes addressing DFSS have multiplied, each bringing with it new ideas for readers to explore. Take, for example, Commercializing Great Products with Design for Six Sigma (Pearson Education Inc., 2007). It's not a quick read at more than 600 pages. Nor do its co-authors define DFSS as neatly as Chowdhury did. It is comprehensive, however, in presenting a how-to guide to commercialization, from Section I, appropriately titled Getting Started, to the final section, aptly called Product Launch and Project Post-Mortem Analysis.

From the American Society for Quality comes Implementing Design for Six Sigma: A Leader's Guide -- Getting the Most from your Product Development Process (ASQ Quality Press, 2007). Its authors offer both stark reality ("DFSS by itself will not guarantee a rapid rise in your stock price.") along with examples that demonstrate DFSS's potential ("One company has seen its initial scrap/rework rates dropping from historical averages of 10 to 15% to 2 to 3% for products developed using a DFSS process.").

Interestingly, the ASQ book's authors used DFSS and Six Sigma processes to develop their book's content, "including gathering the voice of our customers."

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