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Do it Right the First Time

Design for Improvement is a model that puts the focus of process perfection in the design/engineering process. The key focus is ensuring the team understands the customers’ (or process) requirements and their tolerance to performance variation.

To do this, it is necessary to bring the appropriate team together to engineer a robust solution and reduce the impact of variation. Design for Improvement is used when:

  • Products or processes do not currently exist.

  • New products or services are introduced.

  • Multiple fundamentally different versions of the process are in use.

  • Current improvement efforts are not enough.

  • Products or processes are broken and need help.

  • Products or processes have reached their limit.

Initial process capability limits may not conform to or meet customer or process needs. Therefore, the need for an interactive design process is required to make sure the result meets customer or process needs. The process becomes capable and the product or service functions as desired. Design for Improvement enables teams to understand the process deviations, tolerances or confirm that customer expectations are met.

So, what are the benefits? by understanding “the voice of the customer” from the onset and using it throughout the product development process, organizations can reduce costs significantly. When changes to a product design are made early in product development, the costs are relatively low. However, the cost to make changes in the product design increases significantly over time as the product moves from research through design, prototype and production particularly if defective or unsatisfactory products reach customers.

Develop a dedicate team to Design for Improvement for new products and markets, including equipment, product design, process documentation all the way to official launch to production. These teams are dedicated to constantly sharing information and working together to learn and build better and better Designs for Improvement.

As customers change constantly, we need to be able to change to meet their needs through innovation and benchmarking. However, we want them to be satisfied right away and solid Design for Improvement practices can make sure our customers are happy the first time around.

Behind Scenes of McDonalds: Design for Improvement

Watch the following video on how McDonald’s Design for Improvement begins even before they open a new restaurant for the very first time. They even know before the opening how many sesame seeds each bun will have!


Cudney, E & Agustiady, T, June 2017, “Do it right the first time: Design for Six Sigma develops better products and services”, ISE Magazine,

Fox 13 Tampa Bay, November 21, 2014, "Behind the scenes of a brand new Mc Donald's",

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