So many going through Lean Six Sigma training struggle with finding project measures that are actually measurable. The voice of the customer doesn’t always speak in numbers.  For example, if the customer says “we want a soft pillow,” operational definitions need to be developed to first determine what “soft” means in a quantifiable way.  Then we have to figure out a repeatable and reproducible method of measuring softness.

For those of us who don’t work in pillow factories, we have our own ideas of what soft or firm pillows would be to us. If we ran a Six Sigma project in a pillow factory, we might take samples of different levels of firmness of foam (or down stuffing), maybe get some customers to rank them for us in focus groups, and then translate those values to numbers for our measuring equipment.  Obviously this could take weeks or months, not so easy.  One of the keys to a good Six Sigma project is measuring the right thing, so spend the time up front quantifying the stuff your customer cares about.