Critical to Quality (CTQ) Trees
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1. Critical to Quality (CTQ) TreesTranslating Broad Needs to Requirements
Identify how your customers evaluate quality in your products.
When you're developing new products and services, quality is important not only to satisfy your clients, but also to help you stand out from your competitors. However, defining quality can be a challenge, and it's easy to overlook factors that customers care about. This is when Critical to Quality (CTQ) Trees are useful. They help you understand what drives quality in the eyes of your customers, so that you can deliver a product or service that they are genuinely pleased with.
About CTQ TreesCritical to Quality (CTQ) Trees, as shown in figure 1, below, are diagram-based tools that help you develop and deliver high quality products and services. You use them to translate broad customer needs into specific, actionable, measurable performance requirements. For example, an instruction such as "improve customer service" is too broad to do much with. However, by using a CTQ Tree, you can drill-down from this broad goal to identify specific, measurable requirements that you can use to improve performance. CTQ Trees were originally developed as part of Six Sigma.
Six Sigma Improving quality systematically
What IS Six Sigma?Why do organizations adopt it? And how does it help impove quality? To answer these questions and more we're bringing you this guest article from Six Sigma expert, Thomas Pyzdek.
What is Six Sigma?Six Sigma is a rigorous, focused and highly effective implementation of proven quality principles and techniques. Incorporating elements from the work of many quality pioneers, Six Sigma aims for virtually error free business performance. Sigma is a letter in the Greek alphabet used by statisticians to measure the variability in any process, and if you can keep the output of that process within a six sigma-wide band (in effect, no more than 3.4 defects per million outputs), you can be confident that your process is operating as it should. Six Sigma focuses on improving quality (and therefore reducing waste) by helping organizations produce products and services better, faster and cheaper. In more traditional terms, Six Sigma focuses on defect prevention, cycle time reduction, and cost savings. Unlike mindless cost-cutting programs which reduce value as well as quality, Six Sigma identifies and eliminates costs which provide no value to customers.
Understanding the ToolSix Sigma has two main strands. First, it involves using a handful of tried and true performance improvement methods and, second it involves training a small cadre of in-house technical leaders, known as Six Sigma Black Belts, to a high level of proficiency in the application of these techniques.
The DMAIC FrameworkThe tools are applied within a simple framework known as DMAIC, or Define-Measure-AnalyzeImprove-Control. DMAIC can be described as follows:
You can use them in a variety of situations, including when you're developing products and services for your "internal customers."
Figure 1 A CTQ Tree
You use CTQ Trees by first identifying the critical needs of your customers. This is what your product or service must deliver for customers to be happy. For example, if you're launching a new website, a need might be: "Must be accessible on a smart phone." Then, for each need, you identify its quality drivers. These are the factors that customers will use to evaluate the quality of your product. For example, for the need "Must be accessible on a smart phone," a quality driver might be "Must display properly on smart phone web browsers." Finally, you identify measurable performance requirements that each driver must satisfy if you're to actually provide a high quality product to your customers. Without these requirements, you have no way to actually measure the performance and quality of your product. For example, the measurable requirement for the driver, "Must display properly on smart phone web browsers," might be for the website to "display as required on the five most popular smart phone web browsers." It is best to do a CTQ Tree for each individual critical need that you identify. You'll then have a comprehensive list of requirements that you can use to deliver a product that delights your customers. How to Use the Tool We'll now look at a step-by-step process for developing a CTQ Tree. Step 1: Identify Critical Needs You first need to identify the critical needs that your product has to meet. Do a CTQ Tree for every need that you identify. During this first step, you're essentially asking, "What is critical for this product or service?" It's best to define these needs in broad terms; this will help ensure that you don't miss anything important in the next steps. If you can't ask customers directly about their needs, brainstorm their needs with people who deal with customers directly Sales people and customer service representatives as well as with your team. (Perceptual Positions is a useful technique here for example, if people are struggling to move from an engineering mindset into a customer mindset.)
Generating Many Radical, Creative Ideas Brainstorming is a popular tool that helps you generate creative solutions to a problem. It is particularly useful when you want to break out of stale, established patterns of thinking, so that you can develop new ways of looking at things. It also helps you overcome many of the issues that can make group problem-solving a sterile and unsatisfactory process. Used with your team, it helps you bring the diverse experience of all team members into play during problem solving. This increases the richness of ideas explored, meaning that you can find better solutions to the problems you face. It can also help you get buy in from team members for the solution chosen after all, they were involved in developing it. Whats more, because brainstorming is fun, it helps team members bond with one-another as they solve problems in a positive, rewarding environment. Why Use Brainstorming? Conventional group problem-solving can be fraught with problems. Confident, "big-ego" participants can drown out and intimidate quieter group members. Less confident participants can be too scared of ridicule to share their ideas freely. Others may feel pressurized to conform
with the group view, or are held back by an excessive respect for authority. As such, group problem-solving is often ineffective and sterile. By contrast, brainstorming provides a freewheeling environment in which everyone is encouraged to participate. Quirky ideas are welcomed, and many of the issues of group problem-solving are overcome. All participants are asked to contribute fully and fairly, liberating people to develop a rich array of creative solutions to the problems they're facing. Brainstorming 2.0 The original approach to brainstorming was developed by Madison Avenue advertising executive, Alex Osborn, in the 1950s. Since then, many researchers have explored the technique, and have identified issues with it. The steps described here seek to take account of this research, meaning that the approach described below differs subtly from Osborn's original one. What is Brainstorming? Brainstorming combines a relaxed, informal approach to problem-solving with lateral thinking. It asks that people come up with ideas and thoughts that can at first seem to be a bit crazy. The idea here is that some of these ideas can be crafted into original, creative solutions to the problem you're trying to solve, while others can spark still more ideas. This approach aims to get people unstuck, by "jolting" them out of their normal ways of thinking. During brainstorming sessions there should therefore be no criticism of ideas: You are trying to open up possibilities and break down wrong assumptions about the limits of the problem. Judgments and analysis at this stage stunt idea generation. Ideas should only be evaluated at the end of the brainstorming session this is the time to explore solutions further using conventional approaches. Individual Brainstorming While group brainstorming is often more effective at generating ideas than normal group problem-solving, study after study has shown that when individuals brainstorm on their own, they come up with more ideas (and often better quality ideas) than groups of people who brainstorm together. Partly this occurs because, in groups, people arent always strict in following the rules of brainstorming, and bad group behaviors creep in. Mostly, though, this occurs because people are paying so much attention to other peoples ideas that they're not generating ideas of their own or they're forgetting these ideas while they wait for their turn to speak. This is called "blocking". When you brainstorm on your own, you'll tend to produce a wider range of ideas than with group brainstorming - you do not have to worry about other people's egos or opinions, and can therefore be more freely creative. For example, you might find that an idea youd be hesitant to bring up in a group session develops into something quite special when you explore it with individual brainstorming. Nor do you have to wait for others to stop speaking before you contribute your own ideas. You may not, however, develop ideas as fully when you brainstorm on your own, as you do not have the wider experience of other members of a group to help you. Tip: When Brainstorming on your own, consider using Mind Maps to arrange and develop ideas. Group Brainstorming When it works, group brainstorming can be very effective for bringing the full experience and creativity of all members of the group to bear on an issue. When individual group members get stuck with an idea, another member's creativity and experience can take the idea to the next stage. Group brainstorming can therefore develop ideas in more