At Christmastime, every child wonders how Santa does it?
How does Jolly Old Saint Nick visit millions of children all over the world and deliver presents to every one of them in just one night?
A project so complex and far-reaching as this MUST employ Six Sigma principles. If you don’t believe the black belt Kris Kringle wears is really a Six Sigma Master Black Belt, consider how the practices of Santa’s workshop are ideally suited to Six Sigma methodology.
The naughty and the nice
In true Six Sigma fashion, Santa begins his work in the define stage. He creates a project charter that clarifies who is a part of the team (elves, reindeer and Mrs. Claus), the process his team will be working to improve (the behavior of girls and boys all over the world) and the objective of the project (to reward children who have been good all year and withhold toys from misbehaving children).
Making a list and checking it twice
In the next part of the define phase, Santa establishes the critical to quality (CTQ) customer requirements. This means that well-behaved children will get the toys they want.
As a dedicated Six Sigma practitioner, Santa uses the appropriate survey tools to measure the voice of the customer. These tools include reports from parents, emails and letters in the mail.
Santa’s magic supply chain for toys
Santa’s infrastructure is capable of producing the variety and complex combination of toys that the world’s children demand. His workshop is no longer a cute little cottage with a snow-covered roof and smoke gently curling out of the chimney. It is an advanced manufacturing facility with a complex supply chain that keeps raw material flowing into the workshop and toys flowing out.
Six Sigma principles help Santa decrease variability in time, which reduces lead time and ensures stock requirements while helping the workshop run more efficiently.
Meeting constantly changing demand with DMADV
Little tin horns and little toy drums are no longer the crowd-pleasers they used to be. In fact, every year Santa must update his inventory to meet the demand for this season’s must-have toy.
DMADV is used to develop a new product or service or redesign an existing one.
The DMADV model concentrates on identifying and translating customer needs and expectations into a product that satisfies the customer. The ability to constantly adapt current processes to the to the customer’s changing need helps Santa’s workshop produce timely products year after year.
Tying it All Together at the North Pole
Bringing Christmas joy to the world’s children is a complicated endeavor. Monitoring behavior, tracking the naughty and nice, producing toys that meet Christmas wishes, providing transportation and coordinating delivery are processes that must work together seamlessly.
A Process Management System helps all of Santa’s processes work together harmoniously by establishing ongoing management accountability of each process. The elves on the process management team have several critical components to consider.
- Clear process objectives
- Thoroughly documented procedures, measurement and response plans
- Established processes for communication, feedback and training
So this Christmas season, when curious kids ask how Santa can deliver presents to children all over the world in one night and maintain his stellar record, don’t worry.
Just smile gently and explain the awesome power of Six Sigma.
“May your days be merry and bright, and may all your Christmases be white.”