I just finished my green belt lean six sigma training. What is six sigma? Is it kamasutra sex training? What is green belt? Did I attend aikido training? Did I train for go green campaign?
Basically six sigma is a way of thinking. It’s the recipe on why some company could create world class product with zero defect. Ok, to make it simple lets use real practice. Imagine yourself. All of us want to get rich. But how? Let’s use six sigma approach.
Six sigma starts from defining our problem and goal, measuring it, analyzing which critical factor that can be improved, implementing change, and controling the impact. Define-Measure-Analyze-Implement-Control. DMAIC.
In that case, first we must define what is our problem and what is our goal. Our problem is being poor and our goal is becoming rich. Then we must define, how poor is our current condition? How rich we want to be? Write it down. For example:
Current condition: We have 10 mio IDR debts
Goal condition: We will have 1 bio IDR assets
Between current condition and expected goal there is a gap. How to fill the gap? We need a strategy. The beauty of six sigma is learning how to specify the improvement process, and break it down into small improvement project. Remember Pareto principle, there is 20% factor which contributes to 80% effect.
We all know that to be richer, there are two approaches:
#1 Getting more assets
#2 Reducing liabilities
Since it’s a broad subject, then we must choose which area that we want to improve. Lets say since we are still working 9 to 5, getting new asset will be harder. So lets choose reducing liabilities option. At least we will have more money to save and buy assets. Now, what kind of liabilities?
Specify it, Measure it
Which liabilities that we want to cut? We have to break it down into more detail aspects. For example in liabilities there is mortgage, credit card bills, daily consumption, transportation, and etc.
How to know which one to save? The only way is by asking the data. We must collect all of spending data and then make a decision based on it. So for example, we start writing down all of expenses in the past 30 days and suddenly find out that 30% of liabilities come from credit card payment. How come?
Then we find out that 50% of credit card bills are coming from restaurant and bar merchant. We realize that even though we make our own cook, sometimes it’s nice to chill out with friend in fancy hangout places. We also find out that we spend 30% for ecommerce since we are always tempted by “discounted fashion apparel online” regularly. Aha, there is potential area of improvement!
So if we write down the function of credit card consumption, the number will be:
Our project will be:
“How to reduce credit card liabilities from 30% into 18%?”
We know change is easy to say but hard to do. Change is not just applying technical aspect but it is also about human touch. 90% of change is failed because people are resistant for change. Using threat opportunity matrix we could try to convince ourselves on urgency of changes:
From the liabilities tree above, it turns out that restaurant and ecommerce posts contribute 80% of the bills. Can we reduce the restaurant and ecommerce expenses till zero? It seems impossible. So, do what we can do. Change what we can change. The most important thing: we must create improvement. So lets say we list down 7 possible actions to reduce credit card bills:
- Changing the hangout places
- Creating shopping list before browsing on ecommerce site
- Writing down reminder in laptop desk: “Reduce Your Bills, Save Your Money”
- Blocking ecommerce site in our laptop and mobile
- Saying goodbye to our lovely friends and never hang out in restaurant again
- Ordering cheaper foods during hang out
- Cutting our credit card … physically!
Hmmm how to choose which action we must take? We can use impact matrix. Categorize it based on effort and impact.
From metrix above It’s better to choose the red box (low effort-high impact) since those actions are easier to do but have impactful outcomes. The rule of thumb: choose the highest impactful actions (red and green box).
Okay, now we know what we want to do. So let’s do it. Creating shopping list and never buy “out of list” stuff, writing down reminder in our desk and of course choosing cheaper food like salad while we are hanging out.
All we have to do is to make it new habit or standard. Implement and control new ‘policy’, then measure it at the end of the period to measure the impacts. If our credit card liabilities drop untill 18% of all liabilities, that means we are success in achieving our goal. If don’t, look at the reasons. Why it can’t be implemented? And how to change it? Because life is a continuous change.
Remember the Holy Prophet Muhammad says:
“Do you know who is luckiest man? He is a person whose today is better than yesterday, and whose tomorrow is better than today”.