Originally published in The Hudson Reporter
Six Sigma is a process for improving businesses and reducing errors. Lately I have been wondering if the same things that have helped countless institutions could also be used in something as esoteric as dating. I know a lot of my readers out there are in the business world and probably very successful. Let’s put your know-how and acumen to work improving your love life!
Six Sigma’s basis is DMAIC. That stands for Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve and Control. And while I know that improving your dating life is not like reducing the amount of defective Skittles found in a pack, I thought I’d take a stab at it.
Define: Figure out what exactly it is that you want. Do you want to meet more people? Get more phone numbers? Have more second dates? Get asked out more? In order to fix a problem, you need to know exactly what you want to fix. Making it too broad can be overwhelming and confusing. Break it down into manageable parts.
Measure: Before improving anything you first need to know what you are doing now and how it is going. This is basically your data collection phase. How many hours per week do you spend on looking for love? (Trolling the internet for hours every night does not get full credit.) How many events/bars/places do you go to each month? How many 1st dates have you been on in the last month? Heck, created a little table for yourself. I know I may sound like I’m taking the romance or spontaneity out of it, but if you seriously want to help yourself, try it out. No one has to know. Make it something like this:
Looking for Dates:
- Location gone to
- Type of location
- Outfit worn
- Alone or with friends
- Number of people conversed with and approximate length of time
- Names learned
- Numbers/contact info received
Going on Dates:
- Date gone on
- Who with
- Outfit worn
- Place(s) gone
- My choice/their choice
- Topics discussed
- Total time out together
- High point
- Low point
- Do I want to see them again
Feel free to make as many extra points as you want.
Analyze: The goal of this is to be able to find and recognize patterns. Sometimes the data is staring at you right in the face. Maybe most every date where you’ve enjoyed yourself was on weekday evening at a place you’ve chosen, spending less than 4 hours with each other. Or every single time you’ve gone to a certain locale, you get approached and chatted up. It can help you figure out what is and is not working for you. Maybe “Live Music Thursdays” isn’t the best place to try and hold a conversation. The more data you have, the easier it is to analyze it.
Improve: Once you have all your dating experience laid out in front of you and have been able to analyze it, it’s time to improve it. While you definitely want to do more of what was working for you, we are trying to get better. If nobody seems to join in your conversations regarding how to remove phosphates from water but that’s your job, just shift it to how you’re trying to better the environment. If you rarely or consistently wear make-up, try the other way. If people seem to enjoy you the most when you are being funny, read up on weird or funny anecdotes on the ‘Net. If looking at your data, you realize there are some permutations that you haven’t tried yet, go ahead and try them. Look at it this way; if you keep doing what you’ve been doing, how can you improve?
Control: All this is saying is that once you improve, control it so that you do not slip back to where you were before. It takes work to keep it up and sometimes we are guilty of slacking off and letting things return back to the status quo after an initial burst of productiveness. If you truly want to improve your dating life, you might want to drag your ass up off the couch, shower, dress and head out. You have to look at it like a job or a commitment and you won’t get that raise you’ve been wanting by going home early every day.” I mean, if it works out for you, you won’t ever remember the effort you put into it, you’ll just be so happy you’ve met someone.
So for all you dorks, dweebs, and nerds (and I say this lovingly as I still have my 20-sided die and Star Wars posters in my apartment) out there just remember; you can apply your technical abilities to any aspect of life! Why should only your employers and clients benefit from such great know-how? Let’s adopt and adapt this tool to use to our advantage and become Master Black Belts in the dating world!
(My thanks to F. Partovi, Ph.D. and J. Golek, Ph.D for their Six Sigma help.)