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Lean Reference Guide > Lean Dictionary

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"D" Terms
from The Continuous Improvement Companion

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  • Daily Improvement

    Daily improvement is the strategy of making constant, incremental improvements each and every day in order see impressive long term gains.

    While many people see kaizen as just a week-long event, it is much more powerful when an entire workforce engages in daily improvement efforts.

    Daily improvement does not have to be extreme. Moving a garbage can closer to where it is needed, or labeling a location for a stapler near a copier are both examples of small daily improvements that add up over time.

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  • Daily Management (+13-Page PDF, +Video, +Form)

    Daily Management Lean Term on PDF

    Daily management is an ongoing PDCA cycle used to review an operation’s performance against expectations. More importantly, it is intended to drive process improvements when there is a mismatch. Watch a short video, and download a FREE 13-Page PDF on Daily Management.

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  • Daily Management Worksheet

    The Daily Management Worksheet is a tool to help you quickly plan your day and update your production board.

    Format: XLSX

    Regular Price: Free for Registered Users

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  • Dashboard

    Businesses have an incredible amount of information flowing into them. It is often impractical for people to process the data and make quick assessments and corrections to the business without some sort of simplification tool. One such tool is the dashboard. It is simple view of the key metrics of a business. One can take a quick look at it and see the state of the company—much like one can glance down at the dashboard on a car and see what is happening.

    On a dashboard, some metrics are can be combinations of multiple other metrics. A weighting system is used to aggregate similar metrics.

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  • Data

    Data (the plural form of datum) is essentially information that is not yet in context, or without any applied meaning. For example, if you were told that a particular elephant in a zoo weighed 5,800 pounds, you could comprehend how heavy that is, but it would be hard to act on it. You might not know the gender of the animal, and may not know the average weight of the species, so you could not categorize the animal as large or small, and could not, for example, take actions to improve its health.

    For that reason, the data must be applied to a situation to be useful. When data has meaning attached to it, it turns into information.

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  • Data Collection (+ 9-Page Lean PDF, + Video)

    Data Collection Lean Term on PDF

    Data collection is a core skill for continuous improvement. Decisions must be based in fact to be effective. Review this term online, or download a FREE 9-Page PDF on Data Collection.

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  • Days Sales of Inventory (DSI)

    Days sales of inventory (DSI) is an accounting measure that gives an idea of how much inventory is on hand in a company. A large number means the company is generally inefficient at turning raw materials into profit. The formula for DSI is:

    The average inventory is calculated as follows:

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  • Days Sales Outstanding (DSO)

    Days sales outstanding is a measure of how effective an organization is at getting paid. DSO indicates how many days of sales are still left uncollected.

    Obviously, an excessively high number means a lot of cash is tied up in the cost of producing and shipping products. On the surface, it might seem that the lower this number is, the better. It is true to a degree, but at some point, overly restrictive credit policies and aggressive collections will alienate customers and cost sales.

    The basic formula for DSO is:

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  • Deadlines

    Deadlines are, simply put, the date something is due.

    Deadlines may be externally dictated, such as the Internal Revenue Service’s April 15th deadline. They may also be internally set. You may establish March 15th as the date you want all of your tax records gathered. External deadlines tend to carry far more weight than self-imposed due dates because there are often sanctions associated with missing other people’s requirements.

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  • Decision (+Video)

    A decision is a choice between two competing or alternative options. We make countless decisions each and every day—what to wear, what to eat, the route to take to work.

    Some decisions are made so rapidly that they are virtually automatic. You make a decision every time you adjust the steering wheel on the car, surf the internet, and carry on a conversation.

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  • Decision Matrix Template (+Video +Tool)

    The Decision Matrix Template is a tool designed to simplify your decision-making process and take the guesswork and emotion out of selecting a course of action.

    Format: XLSX

    Regular Price: Free for Registered Users

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  • Decision Point

    There are two basic definitions for decision point.

    The first is on a macro level. It is the latest point in time when a decision must be made within a plan. In many cases, it is advantageous to delay making a final choice until the last possible moment—it keeps options open. But at some point, it becomes too late for the decision to matter.

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  • Decision Trees

    A decision tree is a tool that helps calculate the expected values of the choices that are available to you.

    It uses probabilities of events happening and estimates of each possible outcome to help you make a decision. For example, if you called in to a radio contest where you got a chance to choose between a 1 in 10 chance of winning fifty dollars, and a 1 in 100 chance of winning a thousand dollars, which would you pick?

    The expected value of the first option is 10% x $50, or $5. The second option is 1% x $1,000 or $10. The second option has a better payout.

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  • Decision-Making

    Decision-making is the process for selecting from two or more competing options. You make decisions on who you will marry (one open spot, multiple candidates), where to go on vacation (vacation locales competing for your time and money), and how you want to invest the ten grand you got from your Aunt Elizabeth.

    You also make decisions in business every day. You have to decide on a configuration for the call center. You have to decide on where to build the next plant. You have to decide which customer to call next, of if you believe the story about the MP3 player being smashed when the customer got it.

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  • Dedicated Equipment

    Dedicated pieces of equipment are machines and tools that are specified for specific tasks or workstations. The primary purpose of dedicating equipment to a specific process step is to accommodate flow. If a machine is shared, it may not be available when needed, causing items to wait in a queue.

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  • Defects

    Defects are the undesirable results of an error in a process. In most cases, this shows up as a product or service not conforming to a specification.

    Defects are often expressed as either yield of good parts, such as a 95% yield (meaning a 5% defect rate), or as Defects per Million Opportunities (DPMO).

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  • Define (DMAIC Step)

    The define step of DMAIC is where the problem statement is created, the project is scoped, and the team is created. The define step lays the foundation for the success of the project.

    A central part of the define step is to build a business case. That simply means gaining a clear understanding of why the project is important and what it will mean to the business when it is completed.

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  • Delegation

    Delegation is the act of appointing another person or group, usually a subordinate, to perform a specific task or role.

    For delegation to be successful, it should include the transfer of power along with the assignment—the authority of the subordinate to act on the boss’s behalf.

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  • Delivery

    Delivery is one of the legs of the QDC (quality, cost, delivery) acronym. It is a very simple concept—to get paid, you have to get your product to your customer.

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  • Delphi Method

    The Delphi method of predicting outcomes has been around for a long while, but is not widely used in continuous improvement. It is the process of anonymously posing similar questions to many experts and using their results to further a discussion to predict a future outcome.

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  • Demand Windows

    Demand windows are periods of time when customer demand is relatively stable. For slow growth or mature products, the window can be extremely long.

    For other products, demand windows can change seasonally (think water skis), hour-by-hour (think fast food), or can trend steeply up or down.

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  • Demand, Customer

    Customer demand is the ‘pull’ from a customer. While the demand can be for a free product (such as The Continuous Improvement Companion), the great majority of time, customer demand is what customers actually want to purchase.

    Don’t confuse customers saying they want to purchase something with actually buying something. There is a considerable fall-off between a customer admiring a product or service, and then actually opening up her wallet.

    Knowing your customer demand is critical to Lean operations. Customer demand plays a role in determining takt time, and in developing kanban quantities—both fundamentals of Lean.

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  • Deming Cycle

    The Deming Cycle, also known as the Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA) cycle is a standardized system for…

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  • Design for Manufacturing (+ 8-Page Lean PDF)

    Design for Manufacturing Lean Term on PDF

    Lean operations can only compensate so much for a poor design. Planning ahead during the design process, though, can maximize the potential impact Lean can have on an operation. Visit this Lean term page to download a FREE 8-Page PDF about Design for Manufacturing.

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  • Design of Experiments

    A ‘Design of Experiment’ (DOE) is the process of determine the interaction of KPIVs (Key Process Input Variables) on the output of a process. It attempts to quantify the relationship of the variables in order to optimize the settings for that process. A key point of the design of experiment process is that it changes several variables at once. That allows the statistics behind the process to identify interactions between the KPIVs. The design of experiments methodology is closely associated with Six Sigma.

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  • Diminishing Returns

    Diminishing returns happen when resource (time, effort, money, space) yields less output than it did at an earlier time.

    In math jargon, diminishing returns happen when the productivity curve starts to flatten out.

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  • Dirty, Dumb, or Dangerous (+ 5-Page Lean PDF +MP3)

    Dirty, Dumb, or Dangerous Lean Term on PDF

    Dirty, dumb, or dangerous jobs make work far harder than it has to be and erodes job satisfaction. It follows that eliminating those problems will have a big impact on engaging employees. Visit this Lean term page to learn more and download a FREE 5-Page PDF about dirty, dumb, or dangerous jobs.

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  • Discipline

    Discipline is the process of changing a behavior to make it conform to a rule or standard. For many people, discipline has a negative connotation to it, especially when it is their behavior that is being adjusted.

    In truth, though, discipline is more than repeating the standard and doling out punishment.

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  • Disputes

    Disputes are about processes are disagreements or differences of opinion about the way that something should be done. Disputes are nothing new at work.

    In Lean companies, the challenge is that processes are always changing. This provides multiple opportunities for disputes to arise.

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  • DMAIC Cycle

    The DMAIC cycle takes the DMAIC process one step further. It links the end of one project, the ‘Control’ step, to the beginning of the next one (the Define’ step).

    The rationale behind linking DMAIC cycles together makes a lot of sense. When controls are applied to processes, deviations become more apparent—after all, much of establishing controls involves measuring processes. Data starts to fill knowledge voids, providing new opportunities to continue the DMAIC cycle when previously unidentified problems become apparent.

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  • DMAIC-Lean Six Sigma Problem Solving

    Lean makes extensive use of the term flow. As a result, one of the most common teaching analogies Lean practitioners use is that of a meandering river being slowly but surely turned into a deep, straight, fast moving channel.

    That flow starts at the supplier, and finishes at the customer. As a result, ‘downstream’ refers to any movement in the direction of the customer.

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  • Documentation

    DMAIC is an acronym for problem solving in the Six Sigma process. It stands for Define-Measure-Analyze-Improve-Control. The pronunciation is Duh-May-Ick.

    While Six Sigma = DMAIC for many people, there is another improvement method that also uses DMAIC: Lean. If you look at the kaizen process, you will notice that it follows nearly the same steps as the DMAIC methodology. Other problem solving methods have similar approaches as well. For example, the 8D process very closely parallels the DMAIC methodology.

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  • Downstream

    Lean makes extensive use of the term flow. As a result, one of the most common teaching analogies Lean practitioners use is that of a meandering river being slowly but surely turned into a deep, straight, fast moving channel.

    That flow starts at the supplier, and finishes at the customer. As a result, ‘downstream’ refers to any movement in the direction of the customer.

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  • Drawers

    When using drawers to store equipment, one expression stands out: Out of sight, out of mind. Things in a drawer tend to get piled up, misplaced, and forgotten about. Drawers take time to open and close, and slow down processes. They hide things.

    Bottom line: Drawers are fine for storage, but they hinder 5S and flow in a production environment.

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  • Drift (Process)

    Most processes change over time. A car will age, and as it undergoes normal wear and tear, gas mileage will worsen. It won’t be an overnight change, but it will trend downward. This is drift. Processes, with no visible changes, often slowly perform differently. A fixture may loosen up over time, making it take longer to fasten the product in place. A measuring device may be subjected to a series of small bumps over time the slowly changes its readings, making subsequent tasks take longer.

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  • Drum-Buffer-Rope

    Drum-Buffer-Rope is a production theory derived by Dr. Eli Goldratt in his book, The Goal. In it, he advocates production according to the pace set by a single machine (the drum) with linked production (the rope). He also promotes…

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