The GIST of Identifying Potential Causes (Six Sigma X-Factors)

Use GIST in Six Sigma’s “Measure - Determine What to Measure”

During the Six Sigma activity “Measure – Determine What to Measure” determine potentially pivotal Causes (X-Factors) that people might not otherwise find (through their use, for example, of fishbone diagrams).


1.  Review an introduction to GIST.  Read pages 7-9, 11, and 15 in the book GIST: Gain Impact. Save Time.  (See reference [1] below.) 

2.  Review GIST’s Select Service tool.  Read pages 22-23.

Do the following. 

1.  List key customers for a product or service that the Six Sigma project seeks to improve. 

2.  For each key customer, describe in customer-centric terms at least one endeavor in which the customer can benefit from the product or service.  Consider choosing endeavors that are broader in scope than just “the customer uses the product or service.”  For example, consider selecting endeavors for which the customer’s use of the product or service represents one of several steps. 

3.  For each key customer-and-endeavor pair, identify potential Causes (X-Factors).

     3.1.  Determine the “provider,” “client,” and “endeavor” to be considered in the “Envision Causes” step below.  (See Figure 1, page 8.)  Consider the “provider” to include the product or service; people and organizations that market, sell, support, or use the product or service; people and organizations that develop the product or perform the service; and people and organizations that maintain relationships with the above-selected customer.  Consider the above-selected customer to be the “client.”  Consider the above-selected endeavor to be the “endeavor.”

     3.2.  Envision Causes.  Use the Select Service template.  (See Figure 13, page 22.)  Use the “provider, client, and endeavor” selected above.  For each of the 6 categories in the template, list (as candidate Causes) client activities; product features; service features; work that supports client activities, product features, or services features; or assumptions, goals, skills, or proclivities of people and organizations doing client activities or doing the supporting work.


4.  For the Six Sigma project, add, change, or remove Causes (X-Factors), based on the findings.


This technique was developed by Thomas. J. Buckholtz.  (See reference [2] below.)


[1]  Buckholtz, Thomas J., GIST: Gain Impact. Save Time., 2006.  Available as an e-book via Tom’s books.  GIST provides a systems-thinking tool set for pinpointing, communicating, and achieving pivotal “who, what, why, when, how, …” for outcomes, products, services, organizations, teams, relationships, and communication.

[2]  Thomas J. Buckholtz – E-mail: .  Telephone: 1 650.854.7552.  Website .

Click for information about Thomas J. Buckholtz or his books.


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