DMAIC in Life & Baby Steps

DMAIC is an acronym used in statistical problem solving to improve process outcome.  The “D” is for definition, deciding what it is one is going to improve.   “M” is for metrics and is the way one will measure progress.  “A” is for analyze and adjust, where the data from measuring is evaluated to look for ways to improve.  “I” is for improvement in the process as a result of putting into play the changes needed from analysis of the data obtained in the study.  “C” is for control, which is the whole reason for the process in the first place. 

It works amazingly well and is the gold standard from problem solving in Six Sigma.  When it doesn’t work, it’s because the definition was wrong, or changes in definitions over time; the metrics don’t measure what one intended; the analysis is wrong; wrong data lead to wrong changes; control can’t then happen. 

Assuming one is spot on with all these parameters, one also must consider how often do you obtain your data that leads to course correction? 

“Dr. Draper, you’ve lost it!  What in the world are you talking about and how is this relevant to a healing heart?”  Wait for it.  If there is only one degree of course error, you’d be off by 5.2 feet after 100 feet.  That means a receiver would not catch the pass after only 30 yards!  You’d be off by over 90 feet after a mile.  Being off one degree going from L.A. to San Francisco and you’d miss your destination by 42 miles!  Going around the globe from Washington, D.C. to Washington, D.C. and being off one degree would put you in Boston, over 400 miles away.  Going to the moon one degree and you’d miss the moon by over 4000 miles! 

How can NASA put the Lunar Excursion Module in exactly the place they wanted it to be?  If no one and nothing is perfect, how is it done?  Multiple, continuous course corrections that minimize the effort to get back on course and allow progress toward the objective. 

Regarding our health, we must consistently and continuous make valid assessments of our progress, make correct interpretations of our “data,” implement corrective action, and thereby control our health.  We can’t do that occasionally, at our annual physical, or with New Year’s Resolutions.  We must practice DMAIC daily, lest we find ourselves where we don’t want to be. 

Like Bill Murray said in Groundhog Day, “Baby steps, baby steps.”  It’s all a matter of degree, isn’t it? 

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