Using DMAIC to Evaluate Business School Case Studies

As an Adjunct Professor for a Top 20 Business School, I have made a commitment to my students to provide them with not only an academically challenging program but also real life, “Monday morning” tools to help them achieve their personal and business goals.

As part of my curriculum, I heavily leverage business case studies. After all, what is management if not a perpetual stream of case studies?  Over the years, as most professors do, I’ve  developed my own version of a “10-step” method to evaluate case studies. And, it’s a good tool. Yet, when I step back and look at it from my overarching goal of providing real life business tools, I can’t help feeling that I’m shortchanging the students.

In response, this year, I’m taking a different path . . . I’m employing a Six Sigma DMAIC evaluation process. A full description of the process, along with step-by-step student directions can be found in the Resources – Education page on this site or by clicking the following link: Evaluating Cases-LeShay.pdf

What is DMAIC?

From Wikipedia: “DMAIC is used for projects aimed at improving an existing business process.”

The DMAIC project methodology has five phases:

1. Define the problem, the voice of the customer, and the project goals, specifically. This becomes the critical issue to be resolved.

2. Measure key aspects of the current process and collect relevant data. Identify key metrics and measurements.

3. Analyze the data to investigate and verify cause-and-effect relationships. Identify and select possible solutions.

4. Improve or optimize the current process.

5. Control the future state process to ensure that the implemented gains can be sustained.


Consistent with my commitment to provide students with “real-life, Monday-morning” applied learning, I’ve selected the DMAIC process to provide students with a formal business tool rather than a purely “homemade” and/or academic process.

I’ve also selected this process because it forces students to consider the improve (implementation) and control phases of the business life-cycle. Oftentimes, leadership is great at the upfront analysis and planning and then struggles with the implementation. Even more often, business and project controls are not identified and/or applied. According to a CIO published study, “32 percent of IT projects were considered successful, having been completed on time, on budget and with the required features and functions. Nearly one-in-four (24 percent) IT projects were considered failures.” My students learn how to more fully develop their ideas to avoid such a fate.

Give it a try

If you decide to introduce DMAIC into your classroom, please update me and let me know how it goes.

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Category: Education

About Marc LeShay: I am a strategic consultant helping people find clarity in chaos View author profile.

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