About 12 years ago, while earning my 6Sigma Master Black Belt certification, I was in the midst of training hundreds of Green & Black Belt students how to apply the continuous improvement methodology at their place of work.  Their belt certification required that they engage in training marathons and persevere through the completion of approved improvement projects.  I trained then mentored the students through their projects.

As I gained experience instructing and mentoring them through their project work, I began to recognize that I was not connecting in the classroom in the same way that I did as a project mentor;  I had unknowingly fallen into a pattern of lazily running through the motions.  I covered each phase of the DMAIC (Design / Measure / Analyze / Improve / Control) process,  introducing each tool and then teaching how to use it.  Mind you, these are some heavy-lifting tools like Process Capability, Gauge R&R, Design of Experiments just to name a few.

As I reflected on the differences between my classroom interaction and project mentoring, I recognized that when I mentored projects, I was taking the time to explain WHY each tool was being brought into use and WHEN was the right time to do so.  In contrast, in the classroom, I was only introducing each tool and how it worked.  The difference was that I wasn’t putting the tools in context.  I wasn’t explaining why the tool was needed; what problems were these tools effective at solving?

In comparison, if I took you through my personal workshop toolbox and said, “as a mechanic, we use pneumatic air guns.  Here’s how they work,” and never explained to you WHEN it’s appropriate to use them in place of a manual wrench or ratchet, you’d not really comprehend the point.  If I gave you my toolbox, you’d probably never use them.  You might even just sell them or give them away without having ever experienced the benefits.  Worse yet, you might use them at the wrong time and twist off some fasteners!  Why bother hooking up the air hose?  Why bother with these tools?

And now my not so subtle segue to the FMEA.   Have you learned (by others or self-taught) the real value of investing in the development of an FMEA that delivers real, risk-reducing value to your organization?  Ask yourself honestly,  has your FMEA shown you opportunities to improve your product or process or has it just been a repository of anecdotal information that’s only referenced at customer review time?  If it hasn’t delivered, you’re just going through the motions to satisfy TS16949 or other specification and you’re truly missing out on an opportunity to comprehend and act upon the risk of things potentially going wrong.

If you’re seeing the FMEA as a “bother” and resource-drain instead of an opportunity, then let us convince you otherwise with our training at APIS.  We teach from an outcomes perspective not a tools perspective.  We want you to be a solid FMEA practitioner that can perform a true value-add FMEA.  Along the way, you’ll learn how to use the best FMEA software on the market, the APIS IQ Software.  At APIS, we’re engineers teaching how to add value through the FMEA.

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