News Digest

This Month in News Digest

Grant Awarded to Study Six Sigma and Knowledge Management

In simplest terms, "knowledge management" refers to a process through which organizations generate value from their intellectual and knowledge-based assets. Six Sigma, in its broadest sense, is a methodical approach to reducing and eliminating defects in any business process. Adrian S. Choo, the recipient of an Educational Society for Resource Management grant, will use the $2,500 award to study the relationship between these two.

 Studying knowledge creation and organizational learning in companies using Six Sigma was the winning research topic at the American Production and Inventory Control Society's Educational Research Foundation's George and Marion Plossl Doctoral Dissertation Competition. Choo's thesis proposal is called Knowledge Creation in the Structured Improvement Approach: Toward an Integration of Quality and Knowledge. He is a doctoral candidate in operations and management science at the University of Minnesota.

 "The connection between knowledge management and Six Sigma has not been studied," notes Choo. "Case studies in manufacturing and service will define the theory that will be tested on recently completed Six Sigma projects. The research findings will contribute to a theory that explains how knowledge is created by using an improvement approach such as Six Sigma." Choo's research will be translated into guidelines for incorporating Six Sigma into companies' knowledge management processes.

 APICS' Educational and Research Foundation supports research and educational programs for supply chain management, operations and accounting, logistics, engineering, design, purchasing, marketing and other business applications. Dissertation topics are evaluated on the importance and potential contribution of the subject to business and academia, quality of conceptual development, feasibility and appropriateness of methodology, application to the practitioner and originality. Choo is the sixth recipient of the award.

 APICS is an educational society for resource management. It provides certification programs, training tools and networking opportunities to increase workplace performance. Learn more at .


New Six Sigma Black Belt Exam
Provides Instant Results

No more waiting two weeks to receive a pass/fail letter. After more than a year of extensive testing, the International Quality Federation has released its Six Sigma Black Belt Certification exam, which gives instant pass/fail information. The test is delivered on a computer screen that displays individual questions, an answer box, buttons for next and previous questions, and a clock that counts the remaining test time, plus a unique feature that randomly generates data sets and details for each question.

 The exam contains two sections: Fundamentals and Applications, both allowing four hours for completion. The Fundamentals section covers basic understanding of statistical methods such as statistical interference and measurement assurance, and the Applications section is more detailed, with some questions taking up to an hour to complete. The sections may be taken on different days.

 Upon completion, the examinee receives a code, which can be pasted onto a Web page for instant results. Three grading scales allow this test to be accessible not only to those seeking Black Belt status, but also to those who want to become Green Belts and Master Black Belts. To obtain certification, the candidate must get proof from an organization verifying that the knowledge has been effectively applied more than once. The candidate must also meet additional criteria relating to effectiveness.

 To learn more about the exam, contact Quality America at  or call (800) 643-9889.


Community College Gets $15,000 Boost From Deming Institute

The W. Edwards Deming Institute has awarded $15,000 to Waukesha County Technical College in southeast Wisconsin in support of the Waukesha County Community Partnership Project. The project is an initiative to assist community improvement activities within Waukesha County by supporting community leaders and facilitating partnerships and dialogue among community-based organizations. It also provides education and training in collaborative problem solving through the college's Center for Quality and Innovation.

 The Waukesha County Community Partnership project emerged from research conducted by the Center for Quality and Innovation in conjunction with discussions among representatives of WCTC, elected county officials, representatives of community-based organizations and other interested individuals, including representatives of the Deming Institute.

The institute sponsored a research project, in which the Center for Quality and Innovation participated from 1994 to 2000, to study large-scale collaborative problem solving and community improvement models.

 "I applaud the leaders and citizens for their initiative and effort to establish a system that seeks to improve the neighborhood and county in which they live," says Diana Deming Cahill, chair of the Deming

Institute and daughter of W. Edwards Deming. "Much will be learned throughout the process, and true change will be realized."

 The Deming Institute is a nonprofit organization that conducts activities and sponsors projects related to Deming's theories of management. In 1994, the institute began investigating the applicability of Deming's theories to large-scale community improvement efforts. For details, visit


Baldrige Winners Beat the S&P 500 Once Again

The Baldrige Index, a fictitious stock fund made up of publicly traded U.S. companies that have received Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Awards, has outperformed the Standard & Poor's 500 for the eighth year.

 "Even after a tough year for the stock market, especially for technology stocks, the Baldrige Index continues to make a terrific showing," says U.S. Commerce Secretary Don Evans. "While performance in the stock market is only one indicator of success, this study and others show that businesses that seek excellence in everything they do can achieve success in many areas, including the bottom line."

 The National Institute of Standards and Technology, which runs the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award, hypothetically invested $1,000 in Eastman Chemical Co. (a 1993 winner) and Solectron Corp. (a 1991 and 1997 winner), and the parent companies of 18 subsidiary winners (a percentage of the $1,000 was allocated to each company based on its size). That investment amount was matched and put into in the S&P 500. Results indicate that the two whole company winners outperformed the S&P 500 by almost 4.5 to 1, earning a 512-percent return on investment. The group of whole company winners plus the parent companies of subsidiary winners outperformed the S&P 500 by about 3 to 1, earning a 323-percent return on investment, compared to a 110- percent return for the S&P 500.

 A study by Vinod Singhal of the Georgia Institute of Technology and Kevin Hendricks of the University of Western Ontario supports these findings. After a five-year study of 600 publicly traded firms that have won quality awards, the results indicate that these firms improved in stock price return, operating income and sales, among other business areas.

 For a copy of the Baldrige Index stock study, visit  or fax a request to (301) 926-1630. To learn more about the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award, visit


Customers Satisfied With Retail,
Finance and E-Commerce

Offsetting a drop that began in late 2000, customer satisfaction with the quality of goods and services in three sectors--retail, finance and e-commerce--rose during the final quarter of 2001. The American Customer Satisfaction Index, which had declined for four consecutive quarters, climbed from 71.8 to 72.6 (out of a possible 100) points.

 "As customers become more satisfied with the nation's output of goods and services, they tend to increase their spending," notes Claes Fornell, professor of business and the director of the University of Michigan Business School's National Quality Research Center, which compiles and analyzes the ACSI data. Fornell credits falling interest rates, lower prices during the holiday season, increased emphasis on customer service by struggling companies and improvements in buyer-seller relationships caused by the Sept. 11 disaster.

 The retail sector, which earned a score of 75, includes department and discount stores, specialty retail stores, supermarkets, fast food restaurants and gasoline service stations. The finance sector, comprised of banks and insurance companies, earned 76 points. The e-commerce sector, registering 73 points, incorporates Web portals, retail, auction services and brokerage services online.

 For more information, visit the new ACSI Web site at


ISO Loses a Colleague

Dr. Lawrence D. Eicher, secretary-general of the International Organization for Standardization, died March 21. He was 63.

 Before becoming secretary-general in 1986, Eicher held the assistant secretary-general position. During his 16 years with ISO, Eicher was responsible for the orderly conduct of technical, organizational and financial matters. He played a leading role in the reconstruction efforts that ISO experienced during the 1990s, and he saw the launching of ISO's two families of management systems standards, ISO 9000 and ISO 14000. Eicher was also a frequent speaker on behalf of the organization.

 Before his tenure with ISO, Eicher was involved with the National Bureau of Standards (now the National Institute of Standards and Technology). He was also chairman of the American National

Standards Institute Advisory Group on the ISO International Standards Information Network, and a member of the ISONET Management Board.



Industry News

BMG Releases ASP Version of Project Tracking Software
Breakthrough Management Group has released an application service provider version of its project tracking software, Six Sigma ProjX, designed for small to medium-sized companies deploying Six Sigma.

 "The release of our ASP model now makes this project tracking tool available to any company, regardless of size," says Darrell Drennan, BMG's vice president of new product development.

 The Web-based Six Sigma ProjX acts as a corporate knowledge repository for real-time information management. It tracks and reports projects on both the individual and organizational level. Learn more at .


Companies Join to Provide Precision Measurement Equipment
Detroit Precision Tool Co., a designer of automated and special gages primarily for the automotive industry, and Hommelwerke of Germany have combined to form Detroit Precision Hommel. Hommelwerke is a manufacturer of surface finish, form and profile measuring instruments and fully automatic inline dimensional measuring solutions.

 The new company, headquartered in Rochester Hills, Michigan, will provide metrology services, and measurement and inspection equipment. For more information, call (249) 853-5888.


Pilgrim Software Unveils CAPA Solution on the Microsoft .NET Platform

Pilgrim Software Inc. has developed a corrective and preventive action system built on the Microsoft .NET platform that provides Web-based closed-loop initiation, implementation and verification of changes during the CAPA process.

 The solution addresses all CAPA types. Additionally, Pilgrim will offer trending capabilities to identify future quality issues.

 "This solution detects trends in events through statistical analysis, providing a strong foundation for implementing preventive action programs," says Atulya Risal, Pilgrim's chief technology officer. Details can be found at .


Intertek Simultaneously Audits for ISO 9000 and ISO/IEC 17025

Intertek Testing Services has reached an agreement with the American Association for Laboratory Accreditation that enables the company to provide A2LA ISO/IEC 17025 accreditation and ISO 9000 registration simultaneously.

 "We began to work with the A2LA to ease the auditing load for our clients," says Ken Campanale, director of sales at ITS. "The result is a dual audit scheme that enables clients to address industry demands and competitive pressures in a productive, cost-efficient fashion." Details can be found at

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