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Pack your bag like a Black Belt

Pack your bag like a Black Belt

SIX SIGMA BASICS

Besides LEAN, Six Sigma is a much used practice in the corporate world. Six Sigma is a management strategy developed by Motorola that uses data models to make decisions regarding quality and process improvement.  Six Sigma focusses on the DMAIC approach. DMAIC is an acronym for the phases that a Six Sigma project entails:

  • Define phase – Determine a problem or process that needs improvement.
  • Measure phase – Measure the current state of the problem or process that needs improvement.
  • Analyze phase – Analyze the problem based on the data found in the previous phase.
  • Improve phase – Formulate solutions that solve the problem or improve the process.
  • Control phase – Set up a control system to monitor the progress.

There are three types of “belts” that can be achieved, which refers to the data analysis’ level of detail that can be performed. These are yellow, green, and black belt. After hearing the good news that I passed my Black Belt exam at the first attempt, it was time to bring my newly learned skills to practice. What better way to do so than in preparation of my first work trip to Jakarta and Dubai that is coming up next month. Packing light has never really been my thing, meaning there is a lot of room for improvement (see what I did there hehe). So the process can be defined as packing my suitcase for a trip. Last time I went to Jakarta, my suitcase was measured at a weight of 31 kilo’s, which far crossed the regular 23 kilo’s you’re allowed to bring. I analyzed the root causes why I bring so much clothing and the causes can be summarized to my desire of different outfit possibilities. To improve this the question is to bring less clothes, but still keep a lot of different outfit possibilities.

DESIGN OF EXPERIMENTS

The technique I used is called Design of Experiments (DOE). It is originally intended to create a variety of experiments in which the variables can be adjusted and is usually applied in social sciences and engineering.  But with some slight, creative changes it can also be applied to generate all the possible outfit options with the limited number of clothing. I created a full factorial design with a software package called Minitab. The types of clothing included as the factors and the actual pieces as levels. For the true geeks among us I’ve included screenshots of the process in Minitab. Without taking shoes and undergarment into account the selection of clothing is as follows:

  • Outerwear: 1 blazer, 1 bomber
  • Bottom: 1 skirt, 1 pair of pants
  • Top: black blouse, white blouse, striped, fun shirt

With the creation of the factorial design the sixteen different outfit options have been described for you by Minitab, with a total of 5 kilo’s. So it can be concluded that this process has been improved and when the maximum amount of 23 kilo’s has not been reached, the process is statistically in control. For the normal humans, scroll on, I’ll switch back to normal English in a second.

SAY WHAT?

Now let’s go back to normal human language. The trick behind Design of Experiments is to make combinations of the types of clothing you wear at the same time. In this specific example I would wear some kind of top, bottom and a piece of outerwear. Therefore, the number of possible combinations is 4 tops multiplied by 2 bottoms and 2 pieces of outerwear. A total of sixteen outfits. If you would choose to wear a top, bottom, outerwear and also take different shoe options into account, you could multiply your total number of outfits with the number of pairs of shoes. There’s one disclaimer, which is that one has to make sure that all pieces of clothing are matching, or can be combined into an outfit. Otherwise it would might create quite some extravagant combinations. 

So in conclusion, is this method going to help me save room in my suitcase? It probably will, but the thought of wearing the same top four times in a hot climate such as in Dubai and South East Asia is not very appealing to me. Therefore, this little project sounded fun in theory but turns out to be quite impractical. That being said, I’m still left with a stuffed suitcase. Any tips on lighter packing are welcome in the comments below!

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