Sunday, September 16, 2018

No, Toyota Isn't a Six Sigma Company. No, They Didn't Create a Six Sigma System.

If you do a Google search for "Toyota Six Sigma," the first result is from a company whose URL shows its roots. The domain is That tells me their origins are Six Sigma. I would link to them, but I don't want to give them the Google juice for doing so.

Six Sigma people often latch onto Lean to create and sell something called "Lean Six Sigma" or "Lean Sigma." That's what this company does. But far too often, as this blog has documented, the Lean Six Sigma people get Lean completely wrong.

This company has created a bad, inaccurate webpage that seems designed to appear high in the Google search results (hoping the SEO benefit will lead to more sales in spite of how inaccurate the page is). They want to sell training and "Belt" certifications (Green Belts, Black Belts, etc.).

The page is strangely titled: "Benefits of Toyota Production System (TPS)." If you find the actual Toyota TPS page, you will find zero mentions of Six Sigma... because Toyota does not formally use what the belt-peddlers would sell as a "Six Sigma" methodology. Toyota doesn't train belts. They don't do DMAIC projects. Toyota does use statistical methods, but that's due to the history of Total Quality Management (TQM).

The company uses a huge Toyota logo, which isn't their intellectual property to use.

The page starts:
"Toyota production system (TPS) is like a super charged Lean Six Sigma program."
It's NOT a "Lean Six Sigma program" and it's a stretch to say it's "like" one.
"Al the proven and intelligent methodologies of conventional TPS Six Sigma have been charged with immensely motivated team associates."
"TPS Six Sigma" is not a thing.

This is all just written so badly...
"TPS is the outcome of such powerful Lean Six Sigma team associates sigma, which leads to high performance culture and lets employees to know their full strength."
TPS is not an "outcome" of "Lean Six Sigma." I'm not sure what that sentence even means.
"Toyota Motor Corporation created this Six Sigma system..."
What Toyota created is NOT a "Six Sigma system." This page is "fake news."

This is surprisingly accurate (even a broken clock is right twice a day):
Generally, TPS consists of two pillars such as Just-in-Time and Jidoka.
The Toyota TPS page confirms those two pillars.

But, again, the page claims there is a Toyota Six Sigma strategy.

"TPS’s Six Sigma
Below discussed are some of the TPS’s (Toyota production system) Six Sigma strategies:"
I don't think this is true at all. It's been said that the Toyota dealers (independent companies) don't really use TPS. I'd like to see evidence of dealers using "setup reduction" methods.
"Dealers Participation: Toyota treats its dealers as company partner, as integral part of TPS (Toyota production system). Dealers are also well familiar with ways to decrease setup times, defects, inventories and machine breakdowns and take responsibility to render their best possible outcomes."
The article says:
"The Toyota Production System blends attitude, notion and specific techniques into a structured socio-technical Six Sigma system for manufacturing. Gradually, this Six Sigma system spread around Japan and finally to the West, and started gaining other names and variations. Toyota itself was not having any name for its manufacturing strategy until the 1970’s."
Again, Toyota did not create or spread a "Six Sigma" system. Six Sigma has American origins, at Motorola. It didn't spread TO the West. Toyota certainly didn't give the "Six Sigma" name to its strategy in the 1970s, since the term "Six Sigma" hadn't been created yet for a methodology like this.
"Contact us at [redacted] and find out how we can positively help you plan and change the culture and operations of your organization. We offer Green Belt and Black Belt training programs, as well as a Master Black Belt program."
Offering Belts that Toyota does not use or offer internally.

That page is a disaster. It's inaccurate and badly written. But, they've figured out how to game the Google search results system. The new version of "buyer beware" is "searcher beware." You'd like to think Google would point you to accurate and reputable sources, not some "fake news" Six Sigma site. What a shame.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Lean Can't Solve "Non Process" Problems?

On LinkedIn, a guy who teaches Lean Sigma as a "Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt" sure doesn't seem to know much about Lean... yet he tries teaching Lean anyway. And, he's an adjunct professor at a pretty major university, to boot.

Reading his bio, he's a GE guy and a "Six Sigma Master Black Belt," which seems to be a more accurate description of his experience and his skill set.

Yet, he feels the need to try to also teach Lean. Stick to Six Sigma!

In a LinkedIn discussion, he claimed there is a "weak spot of Lean," where Lean "doesn't have much to offer for non process problems."


When pressed, he said:
"What lean tools do you use when a company approaches you and says their current profit is 4% and they want it to be 6%? The answer is none, this problem is better suited for the data analytics within DMAIC. Now if my problem is long cycle time to discharge a patient that screams lean tops, VSM etc."
For one, he thinks Lean equals tools. That's a common problem in the Lean Sigma movement, equating everything to tools in a toolbox. The "Lean" in "Lean Six Sigma" often just means superficial use of Lean tools like 5S or Value Stream Mapping without understanding the underlying Lean philosophy or management system.

I replied:
"Organizations use Lean methods like strategy deployment and A3 problem solving to frame strategic business challenges without Six Sigma."
I also asked a former Toyota friend, Tracey Richardson, to chime in and she wrote:
"So one of the first questions I would ask (regarding profit margins)  how many of their KPI's are lagging indicators that they are reacting too, which is waste within that profit margin (answering the general question Mark asked not about the video).  There is really no tool involved with the question, that takes some go-see, understanding of measurements, tools come much later when we determine - what problems are we solving and how do we know.  So I agree Mark questions before tools :)"
The guy then creates a red herring by complaining:
"It’s a shame so many lean only practitioners won’t acknowledge the added benefit of the DMAIC methodology and some of the Six Sigma tools."
I never said there's no added benefit to Six Sigma or DMAIC. I just want this Six Sigma guy to stick to Six Sigma, where there is added benefit. Him teaching incorrect things about Lean isn't helping anybody.