Variation; positive or negative?

variationVariation is positive in contexts like "Varied workday," "varied training", "varied lives", etc. For manufacturing companies variation can create headaches and huge cost. Variation of process parameters can cause the product quality to vary more than desired, resulting in customer complaints and quality costs. 

All processes are subject to variation. Some might protest, but if you go into depth of things, you will always find differences. Two "identical" houses will be different if you study them more closely; nails are placed differently, the wood will be slightly different and have branches in different locations, etc. Even identical twins will be a little different when you become familiar enough with them.

In the "old days", there were many creative explanations of natural variation; if one failed to churn butter, someone was in love. The Norwegian Fishermen have a funny explanation for poor fish catches; bad "Haill". You have to ask them what it means; I am not going to explain it here...

Some processes have little variation, while others have greater natural variation. For manufacturing companies, the finished product may vary depending on the conditions during the manufacturing process such as temperature, pressure, time, pH, amounts, etc. These conditions will vary, thus providing variation also in the final product. Six Sigma uses a tool called "Components of Variation" - CoV, which can be used to identify sources of variation and quantify how much each factor contribute to the total variation. This tool has many applications. I have used it to assess variations in my own weight. You can watch the video with this variation example.

back to top


  • daryl powell"I was very impressed with Sissel's Lean Six Sigma knowledge. She makes it easy to identify improvements and create results"
    - Daryl Powell, Research Manager, Sintef ManufacturingValue stream mapping
  • eivindwilloch.original"Sissel has proven herself as a competent and committed employee. She has been an important contributor to make good progress in the projects she has worked with. At the same time she is accurate and has good quality of the work she performs."
    - Eivind Willoch, Project Manager, Cambi AS lean engineering
  • benchmarking"We are very happy with the work carried out. We was not very clear what the order was, but with your background and expertise the outcome was what we were looking for and a document we will benefit from in the future"
    - Roger Søråsdekkan, Site Leader at Allnex, Norwaybenchmarking
  • kjelleven rez"We hired Lean Tech to develop monitoring program for air emission. The assignment was delivered with the correct content at the right time. Recommended." monitoring program
    - Kjell Even Misfjord, SHE manager at Allnex, Norway  
  • rsz 1thomasløvik"Sissels ability to quickly understand the issue, as well as her commitment and expertise is impressive. Her analytical and thorough contribution to our monitoring program has been precise and targeted, and very educational. " monitoring program
    - Thomas Løvik, HSEQ advisor at TWMA, Norway
  • Joakim Holm Hansen"Very nice and professional service. Delivered a good job within deadlines" verdistrømsanalyse
    - Joakim Holm-Hansen, Plant Manager at Solenis, Norway
  • Feedback from course participants:
    "Inspiring, professionally competent, popularize a theoretical discipline."
    "Made a difference, engaged and skilled."
    "Academic highly skilled and clear performance. Fun and builds trust."
    lean six sigma kurs