Minitab® and Lean Six Sigma: A book review by Bob Morris

Minitab® and Lean Six Sigma: A Guide to Improve Business Performance Metrics
Forrest W. Breyfogle III
Citius Publishing (December 2022)

A brilliant explanation of how best to execute and measure a high-impact process improvement project

As you may already know, Minitab is a statistics package developed at the Pennsylvania State University by researchers Barbara F. Ryan, Thomas A. Ryan, Jr., and Brian L. Joiner in conjunction with Triola Statistics Company in 1972. Today, regardless of statistical background, Minitab empowers all parts of an organization to predict better outcomes, design better products, and improve processes to generate higher revenues and reduce costs. Only Minitab offers a unique, integrated approach by providing software and services that drive business excellence from anywhere with the cloud.

In this volume, Forrest Breyfogle provides the details for executing Minitab functions in a detailed Lean Six Sigma define-measure-analyze-improve-control (DMAIC ) roadmap, where there is a focus on enhancing a Y process output response.

* * *

I have read most of Forrest Breyfogle’s previously published books and was eager to read his latest in which, true to form, he again provides an abundance of valuable information, insights, and counsel that can prepare almost anyone to create or improve whichever metrics are needed to achieve peak performance, whatever the size, nature, and extent of the given enterprise.

More specifically, the material in his book is appropriate for business measures and goals, strategic plans, satellite-level metric reporting, identification of high potential areas, and Lean Six Sigma improvement projects, 30,000-foot-metric reporting, and an enterprise improvement plan (EIP) that aligns projects with business measurement and goals. As he points out, “Both Lean and Six Sigma have practical tools; however, deployments that don’t equally consider using Lean and Six Sigma tools for process improvement are missing out on the benefits of having a complete toolset at their disposal.

“This situation is analogous to someone using a wrench instead of a hammer to drive a nail into a board. Yes, one could complete the nailing task with a wrench tool; however, the job would be more complicated than if one used a hammer. Similarly, a Lean improvement effort to reduce machine defect might not consider the power of design of experiments (DOE) techniques as a viable tool for defect reduction if this tool is not part of the practitioner’s tool set.”

Breyfogle is an eloquent and aggressive advocate of applying increasingly smarter solutions to increasingly complex organizational challenges. I assume he agrees with Marshall Goldsmith that “what got you here won’t get you there.” And perhaps he agrees with me that what got you here won’t even allow you to remain here, wherever and whatever “here” and “there”  may be defined. He is committed to helping as many people as he can to develop the mindsets as well as the skillsets to help their organization achieve and continuously improved through the Integrated Enterprise Excellence (IEE) system.

Here is the nine-step process, thoroughly explained in Part 1: Lean Six Sigma Background, Business System Integration, and Improvement Project Selection.

1. Identify one’s company’s vision, mission, values, etc.
2. Create an IEE value chain
3. Analyze the current state of high-level value chain metrics
4. Establish SMART satellite-level metric goals
5. Completion of the first four steps guides and informs strategy formulation
6. Identify and prioritize/correlate high-potential improvement areas
7. Select and execute process improvement projects
8. Access impact of project completion of aforementioned goals (Step 4)
9. Error-proof process

Check out the clickable drill-downs of the IEE-DMAIC roadmap via a website link provided on Page 5. In fact, one of this book’s greatest values is Bryfogle’s brilliant use of linkages that are clearly identified and readily available.

These are other sections in the book of greatest interest and value to me:

o Integrated Enterprise Excellence (Pages 2-4)
o Strategic Process Improvement in the 9-step IEE System (4-5)
o Metrics Reports That Lead to the Best Behaviors: Goasl Setting and Benefits of 30,000-level Reports (12-18)
o Minitab Introduction (26-27)
o Traditional Control Charts and Process Capabilities Indices Reporting Versus 30,000-foot-level (55-58)

o Using a Free App to Create 30,000-foot-level and Satellite-level Reports (65-69)
o IEE 30,000-foot-level Reporting: Attribute Failure Rate Output (91-93)
o Improvement Project Roadmap: Analyze Phase (126-127)
o Example: Sample Size Determination for a Mean Criterion (141-144)
o Baselining a 30,000-foot-level Attribute Defective Response Metric and Determining Process Output Confidence Interval Statements (167-170)

o Example: Comparing the Mean of Two Samples (177-179)
o Example: Comparing Proportions (190-192)
o Example: Correlation and Scatter Plot (209-211)
o Example: Two-factor Full Factorial Design (227-233)
o Example: Sales Quoting Process — Demonstrating Process Improvement (272-276)

No brief commentary such as mine could possibly do full justice to the value of the material that Forrest Brefogle provides in this volume but I hope I have at least indicated why I think so highly of him and of his work. I presume to include two opinions of mine. First, I became convinced long ago that, in the final analysis, there are no marketing, HR, management, IT, leadership, or PR issues. There are only [begin italics] business [end italics]  issues. MINITAB® and LEAN SIX SIGMA are best used to answer questions, solve problems, leverage resources, and help achieve business objectives.

Here’s my second opinion: AI and other technologies will not eliminate jobs. Those who collaborate with AI and other technologies will eliminate the need for those who don’t.

Two final suggestions: Highlight key passages in his book, and keep a lined notebook near at hand in which to record your own comments, questions, page references, and any other notes of immediate or potential relevance. These two simple tactics will facilitate, indeed expedite frequent review of key material later.

* * *

Forrest Breyfogle is a Professional Engineer and ASQ Fellow who founded Smarter Solutions in 1992. As a management thought leader and innovator, he developed the Integrated Enterprise Excellence (IEE) business management system. IEE provides radical management advancements in utilizing and integrating scorecards, strategic planning, and process improvement.

His two-book series describes the IEE system and its benefits. Their titles are Management 2.0: Discovery of Integrated Enterprise Excellence and Leadership System 2.0: Implementing Integrated Enterprise Excellence. IEE Enterprise Performance Reporting System (EPRS) software offers the vehicle for a behind-the-firewall implementation of IEE in an organization.

Absorbing, digesting, and applying the material in his books is the next-best benefit to having him working with you and your colleagues onsite, every day, in a business world that is more volatile, more uncertain, more complex, and more ambiguous than it was at any prior time I can recall.


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