Thursday, April 23, 2015

Spring is Conference Season!

The calendar has turned to spring and warm weather is hitting the Tidewater of Virginia.  Trees are starting to sprout leaves and I am looking soon to put my orchids outside for the next five months.   
This is also prime ASQ conference time.  Three of my favorite conferences happen this time of year:  March’s ASQ Lean and Six Sigma Conference, ASQ Raleigh’s Quality in the Triangle and, of course, ASQ’s big World Conference on Quality and Innovation—the last two in May.   Due to time and budget, I will hit two out of three this year.
I have been to the World Conference off and on since 1997 (Orlando twice, Indy twice, Philly, Charlotte, St. Paul, Milwaukee, Houston, and Pittsburgh).  For my first ASQ conference in Orlando, I was a neophyte to quality so I was on a mission to immerse myself in the experience and try to understand what ASQ was and how it could help me with my job.   I highly recommend anyone who is involved and serious about quality to go at least once in their quality career.  The experience is unmatched for those new to quality.
As I progressed and realized that quality was going to be a career for me, I started to come to these conferences with different mindsets.  What training opportunities were available for me and my people?  What resources do I need on the job?  What other things can I get involved with ASQ that can help with my career?  As this point in my career I made a distinct effort to engage with ASQ HQ people and other Member Leader volunteers to see what they were involved in and how their situation matched what I was facing.   
One of the most rewarding experiences I have with ASQ is being involved with Society-wide projects, either as part of Section or Division Leadership or creating new initiatives.  I was a vocal participant at the first “Ideas to Actions” meeting with Volunteer Member Leaders and that opened up my network and allowed me to participate in some very rewarding projects; in my case working closely with the Learning Institute on initial governance programs. 
This year, I will be manning the booth for the Six Sigma Forum, similarly to what I did two years ago in Indy (you can view those blog posts here and here).  My goal this year is to catch up on old friends (too many to name), new acquaintances, fellow Influential Voice bloggers, and to look for new opportunities. My desire to learn hasn’t diminished; it gets channeled differently.  Note to self:  make more business cards.
For those planning to attend World Conference for the first time, explore vigorously, meet new friends and share your experiences freely.  For those that have been to a few World Conferences, take an opportunity to guide someone new.  You know their look.    Don’t forget to check in with other ASQ Influential Voice bloggers for their insights and experiences. Best of all celebrate the richness of the Quality Community; there isn’t anything like it!

Friday, April 3, 2015

Lean by itself is Good, Lean with Six Sigma is Bad. Really?

Another day and another consultant blog post that states that their version or their understanding of Lean Six Sigma does not do Lean correctly.  One consultant has even developed a term for this called LAME – Lean as Misguidedly Executed. In all fairness, there are Six Sigma zealots out there as well.  I am not here to begrudge individuals from their livelihood.  I do find it tiresome that they have to attack established improvement methodologies to drum up business.

What I see is that the “attack bloggers” are usually ignorant of the other side’s principles and origins.  For example: 

Ignorant statement #1: “Lean Six Sigma is all about managing projects, Lean is not.”  Having done a number of “Kaizen” events, they do not just appear out of the ether. They have to be scheduled if done by the people doing the work.  There is the same amount of paperwork needed to work a kaizen event as there is to do a Lean Six Sigma project.  I have found Kaizen events that have structured planning tools are often more successful and show more sustainable results.   

Ignorant statement #2:  “Lean Six Sigma is all about the Belts.”  In its original form, as developed by Motorola, there was only one level of Six Sigma practitioner – a Black Belt.  The different belts evolved as other organizations saw the goodness of first one than having both improvement methodologies and worked to tailor them. Organizations saw a need to differentiate skill levels.  Thus, Green Belts, Master Black Belts, Yellow Belts, ’name your favorite color’ Belts were created.   I wonder how this is any different from a certified Lean Sensei or AME/Shingo/ASQ sponsored certifications (Bronze, Silver, Gold)? 
Ignorant statement #3:  “Lean is about (culture, people, learning, etc.), Six Sigma is about (ROI, statistics, numbers, etc.).”  When any improvement methodology is accepted as a standard in an organization it is going to change the culture, the people, and what the organization will learn. Both methodologies use statistics and have some form of level of effort differentiation that controls what gets improved and what does not.

Some facts:

·         All successful improvement methodologies are based on the scientific method.

·         All successful improvement methodologies morph from their created state when they come in contact with organizations from different industries.  Why?  To best fit the organization.

·         There will always be consultants out there trying to tell you that their methodology is the best version of that methodology.  It is a sales pitch.

·         It is still up to organizational  leadership to 1) value improvement as equal part as the everyday work of the organization, and 2) see improvement methodologies as necessary to move the organization forward.
What we should be arguing about is how to get future leaders to appreciate improvement methodologies as necessary for their future success.