When we lament why Lean hasn’t been more widely embraced as a new management model in healthcare (or other industries, for that matter), it’s good to ask “why?” We can identify gaps and propose countermeasures that might help solve this problem.
As much as I believe that benchmarking isn’t as useful as many think it is, I did see a recent innovation in the Six Sigma world that we might want to consider… or maybe not.
As I’ve written about before, I’m not a certified Six Sigma anything. I took Green Belt classes when I worked at Dell, but was never certified. I have learned statistical methods through my engineering and business education and I use statistical process control and other basic statistical methods in the course of my Lean work (as Toyota does, although they don’t do formal Six Sigma).
I’m all for using statistics and data, as appropriate. But, I’m not a huge proponent of formal Six Sigma programs. This is probably “Six Sigma As Misguidedly Executed” (like Lean As Misguidedly Executed), but the last manufacturing company I worked for had trained and certified nearly everybody as a Green Belt. But, hardly anybody was actually using Six Sigma methods (other than full-time Black Belts).
So, even knowing that I’m not a “Six Sigma guy” and I have my concerns about formal Lean certifications, a friend asked me about a well-known consultant’s new “Executive Master Black Belt” offering. I said, “I dunno, but I’ll take a look.” A lot of it was vague and somewhat unclear – OK, a Master Black Belt who understands better how to work with senior executives. I guess that’s helpful.
Since I like to nitpick and small details often fascinate me, here is one of the things that jumped at me in the brochure (obscuring the author/consultant’s name, because it seems like the polite thing to do):
So you not only get certified and get a black belt, you get a medallion? You can wear your disco medallion, I mean “victory medal,” to conferences and business events?
Who would actually do that?
Disco Stu from “The Simpsons” says, “Disco Stu finally has a reason to get Six Sigma certified!”
Good grief. What silliness.
About LeanBlog.org: Mark Graban is a consultant, author, and speaker in the “lean healthcare” methodology. Mark is author of the Shingo Award-winning books Lean Hospitals and Healthcare Kaizen, as well as The Executive Guide to Healthcare Kaizen. Mark is also the VP of Customer Success for the technology company KaiNexus. He lives in San Antonio, Texas.