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Int. J. Quality Engineering and Technology, Vol. 1, No. 2, 2009
Kano-based Six Sigma utilising quality function
Souraj Salah*
Department of Mechanical Engineering,
University of New Brunswick,
P.O. Box 4400, Fredericton,
NB E3B 5A3, Canada
Fax: 1-506-453-5025
*Corresponding author
Abdur Rahim
Faculty of Business Administration,
University of New Brunswick,
P.O. Box 4400, Fredericton,
NB E3B 5A3, Canada
Fax: 1-506-453-3561
Juan A. Carretero
Department of Mechanical Engineering,
University of New Brunswick,
P.O. Box 4400, Fredericton,
NB E3B 5A3, Canada
Fax: 1-506-453-5025
Abstract: For any company, the continuous and timely development of new
products, which include creative features expected to satisfy customers, is
essential to stay competitive. Currently, companies are not only aiming at
satisfying customers, but also at delighting them. In fact, some companies aim
at customers’ loyalty, such that they only buy and recommend their products.
Thus, it is important to attain a comprehensive understanding of the dynamic
requirements of customers. One of the key models used to achieve that is Kano
model. It strengthens Six Sigma and enhances customer satisfaction. Six Sigma
is used to reduce variability. This leads to an almost defect-free level which is
the focus of the design for Six Sigma (DFSS) approach in building quality
upstream. This level can be essential to customers but may not always be
economic. Therefore, it is important to understand customer needs and the
company’s own capabilities. In this paper, an integrated approach to product
development is proposed using a Kano-based Six Sigma, which utilises Six
Sigma structure and quality function deployment (QFD). This approach will
contribute to the innovation of new and existing products or services.
Keywords: Six Sigma; design for Six Sigma; DFSS; Kano model; quality
function deployment; QFD; customer requirements; customer satisfaction;
product development; innovation.
Copyright © 2009 Inderscience Enterprises Ltd.
Kano-based Six Sigma utilising quality function deployment
Reference to this paper should be made as follows: Salah, S., Rahim, A. and
Carretero, J.A. (2009) ‘Kano-based Six Sigma utilising quality function
deployment’, Int. J. Quality Engineering and Technology, Vol. 1, No. 2,
Biographical notes: Souraj Salah is a PhD candidate studying at the
Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of New Brunswick,
Canada. He is also a certified Master Black Belt.
Juan A. Carretero is an Associate Professor of Simulation, Optimisation and
Robotics at the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of
New Brunswick, Canada.
Abdur Rahim is a Professor of Quantitative Methods, Quality Control,
Inventory Control, Reliability, Production Management, Operations
Management and Total Quality Management at the Faculty of Business
Administration at the University of New Brunswick, Canada.
Companies are facing competition not only from local organisations, but also from across
the world. It is important to effectively identify customer needs, be able to develop the
products and market them in a short time through the supply chain. Companies which
efficiently introduce new products have a competitive advantage over competition. There
have been numerous failures in product development efforts leading to a waste in time
and resources. One of the reasons for this is the lack of a structured comprehensive
process for product development that utilises powerful models, such as Kano model,
quality function deployment (QFD) and Six Sigma, as well as principles of concurrent
engineering including cross-functional teams and timely communication.
Among various process improvement methodologies, Kano model and Six Sigma are
two key methodologies widely used by various organisations. Kano model is a valuable
model used to gain a deep understanding of what the customer wants and aims at
increasing the customers’ satisfaction. The Six Sigma methodology is a well-disciplined
and structured approach used to enhance process performance and achieve high-levels
of quality. Kano model and Six Sigma share the same goals of pursuing customer
satisfaction. Thus, their integration into a common model is possible and beneficial. This
integrated model also includes important tools such as supplier-input-process-outputcustomer (SIPOC) which is important to understand the voice-of-the-customer (VOC),
QFD which is important to understand the technical requirements, cause and effect
diagram, and failure mode and effects analysis (FMEA) which is used to brainstorm
potential problems and design of experiments (DOE) which is used to optimise the
process response.
In manufacturing, producers improve quality by reducing variability. In the service
sector, the service provider improves quality by satisfying the needs of customers
(Li, 2003). Perceived quality is based on the customer opinion. Customers fill products
and services with their understanding of their goodness (Foster, 2007). Quality means
providing customers with what they want and satisfying their needs. However, in the
S. Salah et al.
high competitive market currently experienced by many industries, the target should be to
exceed satisfaction through the innovation of delighting product features. This will shift
customers from being satisfied, to being delighted, to becoming loyal as in Figure 1.
Customers get excited (delighted) and are retained by the innovation of non-ordinary
products and features (attractive attributes). Innovation is important if companies want to
exceed customer expectations.
Figure 1
Customer satisfaction levels
Customer satisfaction provides an indication of the quality of a product. Highly-satisfied
customers are more likely to be retained than the ones that are just satisfied. There is a
substantial difference in loyalty level depending if the customer is ‘satisfied’ or ‘very
satisfied’ (Finkelman and Goland, 1990; Heskett et al., 1994). Customer needs are
becoming more sophisticated as a result of global exposure (Plesk, 1997). Satisfaction
levels differ by individual customers (Magnusson et al., 2003). The VOC is a description
of what product problems the customer wants to be solved (Matzler and Hinterhuber,
1998). It has two types: qualitative, which includes what customers want, and
quantitative, which is about how they prioritise their wants (Tan and Shen, 2000). The
American Marketing Association estimates that it costs five to six times more to attain
a new customer than to keep one (Matzler and Hinterhuber, 1998). Moreover, the cost
of customer satisfaction is threatening around 8.5% of total revenue according to the
research by Hepworth (1997). Customer satisfaction represents a defensive strategy as
opposed to market share offensive strategy. Market share improvement results from
improvement of customer satisfaction rates (Matzler and Hinterhuber, 1998).
The traditional way to design a product used to be based on trial and error (Breyfogle,
2003). Concurrent engineering has a cross-functional approach that ensures the design
is simultaneously considering different aspects as in the following: design for
manufacturing, design for safety, design for maintainability, design for assembly, design
for quality, design for performance, design for reliability, etc. These design aspects
consider voices of both, external and internal customers.
In the next sections, an introduction is provided for Six Sigma, Kano model and QFD
as they constitute the important elements in the integrated model proposed in this paper.
Kano-based Six Sigma utilising quality function deployment
1.1 Six Sigma and design for Six Sigma
Six Sigma represents a new wave of the quality management evolution [preceded by total
quality management (TQM) evolution] towards operational excellence (Basu, 2004). It is
a collection of process improvement tools used in a series of projects in a systematic way
to achieve high-levels of stability. Quantitatively, Six Sigma quality means only two
defects per billion opportunities. The necessity to operate at such a low defect level
may not be economic in all industries. Most companies operate at a 3 σ level, i.e.,
2.7 defects per 1,000 opportunities (Kwak and Anbari, 2004). However, at high-yield
companies such as Motorola, producing electronic parts each with thousands of
opportunities of failure, achieving an almost defect-free level is very necessary.
In 1987, Motorola’s Six Sigma Quality Program was created by B. Smith (Devane,
2004). Also, W. Smith (Kumar et al., 2008) and Harry (Harry and Schroeder, 2000)
developed the concepts of Six Sigma as a way to improve the reliability and quality of
products. To achieve Six Sigma, Motorola created a number of steps which were later
replaced by General Electric’s four phases of measure, analyse, improve and control.
After that, the define phase was added before the measure phase to form the well-known
DMAIC process, i.e., define, measure, analyse, improve and control. This may
be regarded as a short version of Deming’s plan, do, check and act (PDCA) cycle
(Dahlgaard and Dahlgaard-Park, 2006).
The Six Sigma methodology starts with the identification of the need for an
improvement project. In the define phase, the problem and the goal of the project are
formulated and an analysis is performed to quantify its expected financial savings.
The baseline performance is then studied in the measure phase and brainstorming is
conducted to identify the list of the potential process inputs. These potential inputs are all
investigated in the analyse phase to verify the critical few inputs negatively affecting the
process output. In the improve phase, the critical inputs are examined to determine the
solutions. Finally, in the control phase, the focus is on ensuring that inputs and/or outputs
of the improved processes are monitored on a day-to-day basis to confirm that the
anticipated gains are being held. Before studying the capability of the process to meet its
specification, it is important to ensure that the process performance is predictable. The
process performance cannot be predictable unless its behaviour is stable, i.e., the mean
and the standard of deviation are constant (Montgomery, 2001).
DMAIC is used when the product or process already exists, but is failing to meet
customer requirements (Banuelas and Antony, 2003). On the other hand, if the product or
service under consideration is still at the early stages of development or major design
changes are required to reach higher customer satisfaction, design for Six Sigma (DFSS)
is the approach used and the five phases that are used become define, measure, analyse,
design and verify (DMADV) or identify, design, optimise and verify (IDOV). The goal
of DMADV is to achieve a Six Sigma level from the early stages and it normally
applies the principles of concurrent engineering. According to Harry and Schroeder
(2000), organisations that implemented Six Sigma and achieved five sigma levels
(i.e., 233 defects per million opportunities) need to implement DFSS to exceed those
levels. They have also indicated that IDOV helps create stable, reliable, efficient and
satisfying products. Banuelas and Antony (2004) have mentioned that DMAIC is
concerned with CI, whereas DMADV is concerned with continuous innovation.
DFSS is a structured methodology based on analytical tools to predict and prevent
defects in the product design. It is used to make a reliable and defect-free new product
S. Salah et al.
and thus increase profits. It passes through five phases: define the design problem and
customer requirements, measure the critical to quality (CTQ) characteristics, analyse the
high-level technical requirements of the design to meet the customer’s needs, develop the
detailed optimised design, and finally, verify the design performance in satisfying the
needs. De Feo and Bar-El (2002) have summarised the seven elements of DFSS as:

drives the customer-oriented design process with Six Sigma capability

predicts design quality at the outset

matches top to down requirements flow down with capability flow up

integrates cross-functional design involvement

drives quality measurement and predictability improvement in early design phases

uses process capabilities in making final decisions

monitors process variances to verify that customer requirements are met.
DFSS aims at satisfying customer needs and optimising the process of designing a new
product or service. Some of its benefits are: decrease the time to market new products,
reduce costs of new product development, improve quality and reliability of products,
decrease warranty costs (Antony, 2002).
Six Sigma design process is prescriptive in nature (Schroeder et al., 2008). It has a
strong focus on product design using DFSS or DMADV (Upton and Cox, 2008). Six
Sigma stresses the importance of using QFD and cross-functional design and design for
manufacturability (Schroeder et al., 2008). It has a strong emphasis on customer
satisfaction through mainly focusing on CTQ (Klefsjo et al., 2001; Schroeder et al.,
2008). Market demands and CTQ characteristics are dynamic. A review of CTQ can be
done as part of a regular audit which may trigger new opportunities (Antony, 2004). Six
Sigma embraces values such as process focus, customer focus, CI and use of facts
and data (Tannock et al., 2007). It focuses on product quality and quality assessment
(Cheng, 2008). Six Sigma provides better alignment with organisational strategic
business objectives (Antony, 2006) and it uses an intra-organisational cross-functional
improvement team (Cheng, 2008). Below is a brief explanation of some of the Six Sigma
tools used in the study in this paper.
1.1.1 Supplier-input-process-output-customer
SIPOC is an important tool often used in the define phase of Six Sigma to gain a better
understanding of the VOC. It is a high-level process map that typically uses four to seven
steps to describe the process under consideration. It leads to the exercise of finding the
CTQ characteristics at each process step.
1.1.2 Cause and effect diagram
Also referred to as the fish-bone or Ishikawa diagram, the cause and effect diagram is a
brainstorming tool often used in the measure phase of Six Sigma to identify the potential
causes for a problem.
Kano-based Six Sigma utilising quality function deployment
1.1.3 Failure mode and effects analysis
FMEA is a well-known Six Sigma tool used to identify the potential product failure
modes, severity level, occurrences rating and detection rating so as to calculate a risk
priority number (RPN). It was initially used by the US military to evaluate the impact
of failures on a mission’s success (Su and Chou, 2008). It aims at identifying and
prioritising the potential failures so that they can be eliminated to improve the product
quality and reliability.
1.1.4 Design of experiments
Developed in the early 1920s by Fisher, DOE is a powerful technique used to study how
several process parameters affect the response or quality characteristic of a process
or product (Rowlands and Antony, 2003). It helps identify the critical factors and the
settings for these factors to get the best response from the process. DOE can be used as a
control measure for achieving high-level of product design quality. It helps create a
design that is less sensitive to noise in the input variables that are inherent in the process
and it can help in the tolerance design (Breyfogle, 2003). DOE is often used within the
improve phase of Six Sigma (or the design phase of DFSS) to optimise a process or a
product. It is much superior to the traditional way of experimenting with one parameter at
a time and it considers parameters effects and interactions.
1.2 Kano model
Developed by Kano et al. (1984), the Kano model is an effective technique used to obtain
a profound understanding of customer needs. It is a well-established psychology-based
method used to satisfy customers. It is a two-dimensional quality model which explains
that the relationship between customer satisfaction and functionality or performance is
not necessarily linear. Product performance refers to the efficiency with which a
product achieves its intended purpose (Foster, 2007). Kano model enables a creative
understanding of customer requirements and which ones are more critical to satisfaction
than others. It is used to deeply analyse the VOC. It is an intellectual model which
provides a systematic approach to understanding customer needs (Shen et al., 2000). It
has been applied to new product development (Matzler and Hinterhuber, 1998) as well as
new service creation (Bhattachrayya and Rahman, 2004).
Kano model classifies product characteristics into three types (Kano et al., 1984)
based on Hezberg’s theory of ‘motivator-hygiene’ (see Figures 2 and 3):
Must-be attributes (expected): These attributes are expected by customers to exist in
the product and their absence causes them much dissatisfaction. An example of that
is when a customer does not ask for a car that is safe to drive as this is an expected
feature (Teeravaraprug, 2002).
One-dimensional attributes (proportional): The existence of these attributes
creates satisfaction and the better they are, the more satisfied customers become.
An example of that (Teeravaraprug, 2002) is when customers specify the need for
an economic vehicle. The existence of this requirement will satisfy the customers
and the more it matches with their expectations, the more satisfied they become.
However, if the vehicle is not economic, the customers become dissatisfied. The
S. Salah et al.
diagonal line in Figure 2 corresponds to the explicit and spoken customer
requirements. Kano claimed that the impact of different customer service
(or product) elements have different effects on customer contentment and should
not be used in the same way. Thus, in addition to measuring the order of importance
of various service (or product) elements, it is important to measure the different
effects on customer satisfaction (Li, 2003).
Attractive attributes (value-adding): The addition of these attributes delights
customer, whereas their absence may not cause dissatisfaction. An example of
that are mini-vans that have stereo and headphone jacks for the kids (ReVelle et al.,
The must-be attributes and the attractive attributes are thought of as unspoken or
unspecified attributes unless violated, unlike the one-dimensional attributes which are
specified. However, there are situations where three other categories may result (Kano
et al., 1984):
indifferent: these attributes occur when customers are not concerned whether they
exist or not
reverse: these attributes occur when customers expect the absence or the reverse
sceptical or questionable: these attributes occur when a customer provides a
conflicting response.
Figure 2
Kano model
Source: Adapted from Magnusson et al. (2003)
Kano-based Six Sigma utilising quality function deployment
Figure 3
Customer expression corresponding to Kano’s classification of product features
It is recommended to fulfil all must-be attributes (priority), be competitive on the
one-dimensional attributes and then include some of the attractive attributes (CQM,
1993; Robertshaw, 1995). Besides responding to the explicit needs of the customers
‘expressed quality’, it is important to consider the ‘implicit quality’ needs that are not
spoken of but are assumed to exist and the ‘attractive quality’ needs that are not spoken
of and have not been imagined to exist (Chen, 2007). Kano model helps in understanding
the unspoken requirements of customers. The attractive quality needs are impor …
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