Happy Homemaker, Ph.D.

A novice homemaker's attempts to use her engineering Ph.D. to serve her family

Baby Steps

No, my ten-month-old isn’t walking yet.  I’m talking about the changes I’m making myself as I continue this continuous improvement journey at home.

First, let me clarify something.  My husband thought that as I wrote about rolling up my sleeves and putting on my hard hat in the last post that I’d be digging into work with noticeable change just around the corner.  Unfortunately (?), I don’t work like that.  I’ve been trained in the Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, and Control (DMAIC) methodology that helps me resist any urges like that, urges that may lead to treating symptoms for a time, but never finding the root cause of the problem.

Poor project selection is one way Six Sigma initiatives can fail quickly.  (If you’ve never heard of DMAIC and Six Sigma, stick with me.  I think this will all still make sense.)  The criteria I learned suggested that the solution should not be known (If it is, then just do it.), the project should be something that can be completed in four to six months, and the focus should be on improving quality in some way.  Early projects as Six Sigma (or probably any process improvement initiative in an organization) need to be successful to build momentum for the new approach.  A project failure or a project that drags on and on doesn’t do much for morale.

So, what did I decide my first project would be?  What have I been working on for the last month?

Laundry.

I don’t think I have a real problem with laundry, but there are some issues.  The volume of laundry at our house will likely increase before it decreases, so working on this project makes sense.  The solution was not known.  It is something that should be able to be solved in less than three months.  If successful, it will help me feel encouraged to try to battle solving some of my larger and more persistent problems in the house.

Rather than tell you what I’ve done and think it may give you ideas and work for you, too, I will try to focus on sharing my process for approaching the problem, clarifying what my situation is (from the layout of my house to my personal pet peeves), sharing the solutions I came up with, and describing how the implementation of the solution worked.

With the next post, I’ll explain the Define phase for this laundry project and how we can use it to really identify the true problem before we start trying to implement new ideas.

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