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.