Idea Collection Tools the Six Sigma Tool Kit Part 3

Since I have been traveling down the road of “Idea Collection” I figure that I will continue the posts till I have exhausted this subject, so this is part 3 of the series.


Flowcharts provide a very simple way to present a data. If developed without any errors, they can describe the process with great clarity. Flowcharts are graphical representation or a pictorial representation of the flow of a process. This pictorial view usually depicts the inputs, outputs, and the unit of activity in a process. It analyzes and observes the process from its initiation to its completion. A flowchart is mostly presented in the form of a diagram comprising of boxes, diamonds, and other shapes, and these boxes are connected with arrows. Each box or a shape represents a step in the process and each arrow shows the order of the activities that are performed. Now I have also used this on Agile projects as well as in the Waterfall methodology, but I believe that process flow documentation is NOT methodology specific, I think there is no better way to start the brainstorming sessions off then a flow of the new application or process that the project is being created to undertake. The visual flow of the project is entirely helpful for team members that are less technical; it allows them to follow the natural course of the application and is always instrumental in jump-starting question and answer sessions.

Fishbone Diagram

The Fishbone diagram or Ishikawa diagram as it is popularly known is primarily used in the Define, Analyze, and Improve steps of the DMAIC process. This diagram provides an insight into input variables. It is used to brainstorm possible causes of a problem or its effects. The project team use Fishbone diagrams to identify the input variable that is causing a problem and also focus on the cause and effect relationship.
As the name suggests, the Fishbone diagram looks like a fish (examples) with the head identifying the specific problem of interest, and the six bones identifying six categories comprising of “five Ms and one E”. They are Measurements, Materials, Men, Methods, Machines, and Environment.

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