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Some tips on completing your thesis: DMAIC structure and Study Groups

Using the DMAIC structure: Helping you to lay out your thesis You will have learnt about the DMAIC process in detail in the Quality Science 2 module, and as you know, many companies have adopted the DMAIC model or some variation of it for their 6 Sigma improvement projects. As a general process improvement method, DMAIC can really help you to structure your thesis helping you take a fresh look at familiar material and give it new contexts that you had previously not thought of. Using the DMAIC process you are reminded to prioritise Customer and Measurement . In addition the 5 steps help your thesis flow logically from one chapter to the next. Your main aim is to use your thesis to solve a problem and make long term improvements to specific area(s). Defining the problem and linking it to customer requirements is an important first step. Discussing how you ve measured and set a foundation for your work, and what steps you ve taken to improve that foundation are the next easily identified steps in the DMAIC process. Finally, being able to discuss the lessons you ve leant as well as the steps you ve taken to ensure the gains from your improvement project are permanent (developing controls) are ways to conclude your thesis.

DMAIC: Define Measure Analysis Improve Control

An indicative structure would be the following:

- Chapter 1: Introduction (objectives/research questions) (DEFINE) Chapter 2: Literature review (conceptual framework) Chapter 3: Context (company background) Chapter 4: Research methodology (MEASURE) Chapter 5: Findings (ANALYSE) Chapter 6: Discussion (IMPROVE & CONTROL) Chapter 7: Conclusions and further research (CONTROL) Bibliography

The supervisor for your thesis will be looking to see: 1. Elegance excellent structure, grammar, presentation etc 2. Parsimony what you leave in can be as important as what you leave out (do not include the kitchen sink) 3. Flow. Chapter 1 needs to flow into chapter 2 etc and so on. The DMAIC structure will help you achieve this. Don t let the Thesis submission deadline be the first time that your supervisor sees your thesis. You should be in regular contact with your supervisor and sending him/her your chapters as you complete them

In general, your thesis needs to describe how you have improved, what your learning experience was, how you developed as an individual and as an organisation. You should be able to answer the following questions at your Thesis Presentation: 1. Why was the problem in the thesis important/ why was it worth studying, and what were the key issues? 2. How do we know that you solved step 1 (this problem)? Expand upon your literary review of current state/present theory, what you understand to be the gap in the theory/knowledge? What your plans were to fill that gap and solve the problem. 3. How did you achieve step 2? How did you adapt the literary review to address the problem in your individual organisation? 4. How can you say that you successfully solved the problem stated in step 1? - Expand upon your results and proof. 5. What are the lessons that you ve learnt- your reflections and recommendations for other people arising out of the results of your study? 6. How would you transfer this into another industry- or- if you are in a large company- how would you transfer your results into a small company? This is where being participant in a thesis study group would be of great advantage to you, especially if the other members of the study group were from other industries. The exchange of chapters in a study group environment would allow you to expand your knowledge outside of the industry which you work in, and help you to answer this question above. Being part of a study group- Advantages. Writing a thesis can be a lonely pastime, especially when students are distance learning students and in many cases are trying to write the thesis while working full time and raising a family/caring for elderly parents. In this situation it is easy to postpone the hour or two that you had planned for thesis prep to a more opportune time- which often never comes.

Being part of a study group means that you must be present (by Skype or physically) at a specific time, to discuss a specific topic that you will have had to prepare for. No more procrastinating. Peer support and discussion is often a very motivating- especially when you are amongst people who can empathise with the difficulties of finding the time for your thesis. As everyone in the group is anxious to make the most of their time, one half hour discussion with several people on a specific topic may be a very time efficient way to learn from each other and observe other methods of study/writing. In many cases, it can be very interesting to observe the variation in theses which are based in different industries. For example, someone who is based in a service industry may write a thesis which is completely different from one based on a manufacturing process, but they have much to learn from each other. If most of your experiences are based in the manufacturing industry, then observing how a peer student in the service industry implemented their improvement project could be very helpful to you in a potential job interview. Everyone has a different way of viewing things and different writing techniques. It may be that one chapter that you are finding difficult to complete may benefit from the perspective of someone else. By allowing a member of your study group to read some of your work, you may get fresh ideas on something which has become too familiar to you.