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.
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