We prefer objective miracles

We’ve all been there…a moment with our customer, our R&D, or our business manager where they put their foot down and just say “Yes, I understand this product works…but why does it work!?”  I’ve been told I’m not to use the mechanism described in the well-known cartoon by S. Harris to explain “how it works” anymore:












Many Celanese technologies enhance consumer products, whose resulting effectiveness is measured “subjectively”, or via a person’s individual physiological response….such as perceived color of Ticona’s MetaLX™ metal-effect polymers; how something feels, like a baby wipe made with Dur-O-Set® Elite Ultra Soft emulsions, or how something makes you feel when you see it, such as a room painted with Celanese’s EcoVAE® based paint, or touch it, like Ticona’s Riteflex ® soft touch polymer; or, how something tastes, like a Sunett® sweetened beverage.  Celanese chemists find themselves dealing with these subjective variables often!  We turn to Design for Six Sigma analysis (a continuous improvement effort aimed at relentlessly reducing variations in our processes) to help convert the subjective opinions to scientific facts, which Six Sigma refers to as “objective” attributes.  Most product developers would love to replace subjective attributes of a product to objective ones.  This desire is quickly learned when the response to your question “how much softer does this fabric need to be?” is “about 1 and a half cents softer”.

So, if TruModa® emulsion-dyed cotton (an innovative dyeing process from Celanese) creates a bright yellow cotton fabric, which is subjectively described as “a beautiful yellow”, in order to show accuracy and precision and give a customer a selling point, we instead use the very objective spectrophotometric reading of “this cotton has a % Reflectance at 530 nm wavelength of 115%”.  A cotton fabric is bright when its % reflectance is greater than 85%, and this is valuable to our customers!

It’s possible you’re struggling today with a subjective issue, which, if defined objectively, can make everyone’s life better!  Try talking to a Six Sigma Black Belt at Celanese, and like they did for TruModa® dyed apparel, make your business shine a little easier.

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About the author


Harrie works for Emulsion Polymers divisions New Business Development team. He is based at Clear Lake in the Technical Center in the Houston, TX area. He enjoys volunteering for his church in their hospital ministry, biking, jogging, cooking and spending time with his wife and two children.

There are 5 comments. Add yours.

  1. Ana Duhon says:

    Great article and very good point. We do need to be observant of variables that are representatitve and measurable in all of our businesses – even environmental. Look forward to your next blog!

  2. Linda Blais says:

    Well written Harrie. Between you and Pradip (Mr. Six-Sigma) there is no telling how much better our products and customer satisfaction will improve.

  3. Kari says:

    Hello Harrie,
    Very true “successful solutions cannot be developed without finding way to measure key customer needs”!

  4. Trinity Hale says:

    Good points Harrie. It is important to find that median balance between the subjective and objective, and also ensure we are using all of the resources available to us to analyze and use data.

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