The Deane Stage - Six Sigma


The Deane Phase has a number of key purposes:

  • Links to the Strategic Cycle: Firstly it links to the strategic cycle to assess the current project against the strategic objectives and ensure that it something which has the potential to contribute to strategic goals.

  • Project Definition: Once the project is cleared as aligned to the corporate strategy the project scope, objectives, sponsors, schedule, deliverables and team members should be identified.

  • Team Formation: As with all change projects a team of knowledgeable and motivated individuals should be formed and supported in developing an agreed understanding of the project.

  • Assess the potential benefits: An initial understanding of the benefits of the project (financial or otherwise) needs to be developed and agreed with sponsors. Develop measures of success relevant to this project.

  • Learn about the process: In the define phase we need to understand how the process works and who it affects and links to; in particular customers and suppliers of the process (internal or external) need to be considered along with what they get from, or provide to the process.


The Deane Phase has a series of interlinked actions, the numbers imply a sensible order, but this may well be an iterative process:

  • Review Strategic Plan: Build a clear understanding of how the project contributes to organizational goals. Is this a good use of resources when considered strategically? Identify appropriate sponsors and champions to support the project. Select appropriate measures

  • Review the Opportunity: What do the customers want? What is the current performance of the process? Realistically, what is the opportunity for improvement? Is the effort involved in improvement likely to be repaid by the benefit?

  • Canvas Support: Build links with the people who are going to have to live with the change early in the project. Is there an appetite for change? Can changes be made in a way which is a good cultural it with the area and create a win / win situation?

  • Form the Team: Blend expertise in process improvement with process knowledge and ensure that aspects such as motivation and linkages to the rest of the process stakeholders are considered (leaders, whether social or de facto need to be incorporated for example).

  • Agree Timing Plan and review process: The team need to agree the timescale for the project and conclude a rough project plan so that progress can be effectively monitored. Agree what feedback is required, to whom,

  • Learn about the process: Gain deep knowledge of how the process works by interaction with people involved in the process and observation of the process in action. Ensure that the picture you build up is accurate by testing it with key fact holders. Clarify principal customer requirements and review the measures identified in step 1 for consistency with these requirements.

  • Streamline and Standardise the Process: Take advantage of any ‘quick wins’ to ensure that obvious sources of variation and waste are removed.

Principal Tools and Techniques

The list is not meant to be definitive, but indicates the sort of tools / techniques which will be relevant.

  • Review Strategic Plan: This step does not require specific tools, ideally this should be developed from the Hoshin Kanri process and comparisons with strategic objectives and action plans.

  • Review the Opportunity: Cost of quality approaches, waste analysis, customer satisfaction questionnaires, etc. approaches to identify opportunities for improving cost, speed or customer satisfaction.

  • Canvas Support: No specific tools required, but appropriate direct involvement with local staff. Approaches such as appreciative enquiry or stakeholder analysis might help to build support.

  • Form the Team: Belbin team analysis may help, although the reality is often that the team will be built from the willing and the knowledgeable rather than the optimum blend of character types. Developing a project charter helps to gain commitment to the objectives and means. Ensure team members are trained and confident in the methodologies proposed for the project.

  • Learn about the process: Use a variety of low charting techniques to develop an understanding of the process low (A high level process map is often useful to start with, a Supplier - Input - Process - Output - Customer Diagram helps to understand process linkages and more detailed process low charts may be used later if required). Listening to the voice of the process will require a data collection plan, the use of appropriately selected control charts, and process capability analysis.

  • Streamline and Standardise the Process: Simple tools such as cause and effect, pareto etc. and standard operational definitions can be used to help this process.

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