Tag: Six Sigma
Out there in the Lean and quality improvement communities, you sometimes hear some silly things. Sometimes, I want to attach the “Lean As Mistakenly Explained” (or L.A.M.E.) label to what’s said when it really seems off the mark from what Lean is really all about. Davis Balestracci, a columnist for Quality Digest, passed along something he heard from a “Lean guru” (whatever that means):
“In my opinion, any approach should also involve the use of data in some way, shape, or form. I once had a lean sensei (local “guru”?) vehemently make the point that lean does not involve data at all.”
My wife is a leader in a business (not GE) that does aircraft engine “MRO” work – maintenance, repair, and overhaul. I’ve been able to visit her shop floor (her “gemba”) and we noticed similar parallels between their work (bring engines back to prime “health”) and what’s done in healthcare. This parallel was also explored in this recent article from GE Healthcare that was published by The Guardian in England: “What lessons can healthcare learn from industry?”
There are interesting and sometimes humorous parallels between engine MRO and human healthcare:
I had a conversation recently with a healthcare quality leader about her excitement about Lean.
She said that she wanted to learn more about Lean and wanted to get certified.
She then added, “I thought I’d get Lean Sigma certified, because then I’m getting both [Lean and Six Sigma].”
Here’s what I told her:
MP3 File (run time 32:10)
Joining me for episode #187 is Joe Swartz, my friend and esteemed co-author for our books Healthcare Kaizen: Engaging Front-Line Staff in Sustainable Continuous Improvements and The Executive Guide to Healthcare Kaizen: Leadership for a Continuously Learning and Improving Organization. You can learn more about our books here.
Joe is Director of Business Transformation at Franciscan St. Francis Health System in Indianapolis (his full bio is here). In the episode, we talk about his background with Kaizen and how he got into healthcare. Joe discusses how Franciscan got started with Kaizen, some of his favorite Kaizen examples, why it would have taken too long to engage everybody through Lean Six Sigma projects, what they are teaching managers about leading in a Kaizen culture, and the work that still needs to be done in their cultural transformation.
I recently read an article (a case study) about “Lean Six Sigma” in a publication. It’s not online, so I can’t link to it, nor do I really want to call them out by name.
I didn’t like the article, in part, because it used the old, tired (and wrong) idea that “Six Sigma is for quality” and that Lean is only about “faster and cheaper.”
Good gravy, how do people NOT realize that the Toyota Production System and Lean are about both flow AND quality? For direct evidence that Lean/TPS is about both, see Toyota’s website on “jidoka” and “just in time.”) The article I read is, unfortunately, an example of L.A.M.E. or “Lean As Mistakenly Explained.”
The article talks about a scenario where a city government wants to reduce traffic accidents at one particular intersection. Since an accident is a “defect,” they called on the Six Sigma belts to gather data do a bunch of statistical analysis (assuming, it seems, that a quality problem must be the domain of Six Sigma). It took time and a bunch of meetings to plan for this formal exercise. It’s a “hard problem” that’s “hard to solve,” the author said.
Mark’s Note: Today’s guest post is by Joe Swartz, my co-author for the book Healthcare Kaizen and the newly-released book The Executive Guide to Healthcare Kaizen. I’m hoping Joe will be a regular contributor in the future and I’ll be doing a podcast with him soon (update: listen here) about his experiences at the Franciscan St. Francis Health System. Also, check out this video about their Kaizen approach. You can also read a journal article we co-authored.
I was recently reminded about the difference between knowledge-based learning and skills-based learning.
My seventeen-year-old son was preparing for his driver test and asked me to help him learn to parallel park a car. I set up some trash cans on our side street to act as a car in front and a car behind. Then, I used my Job Instruction Training skills as I walked him through parallel parking, teaching him the steps, the key points, and the reasons why.
Then, he demonstrated what I’d taught him and parked the car within six inches of the curb on his first try. He’s a quick learner and is in the top five percent of his high school class. He said, “Okay I’ve got it.”
QHSE Focus, an iPad magazine, asked me to contribute a piece on Lean healthcare.
They published my piece titled, “Employee & Patient Safety: The Only Moral Place to Start with Lean in Healthcare.”
You can read a PDF of the article, thanks to the publishers at QHSE Focus. The PDF also contains the table of contents to the publication, which includes an excellent piece by Michael Balle on the “irreconcilable differences between Lean and Six Sigma”). You can get a free issue of QHSE via the iTunes store (further issues by paid subscription).
MP3 File (run time 30:30)
My guest for Podcast #181 is a good friend, Ron Pereira of Gemba Academy, an outstanding provider of online Lean (and now Six Sigma) education. You might also know Ron from his blog posts (and now, also, a podcast) at LSSacademy.com. I was recently a guest on episode #8 of his podcast series. Ron was also the guest host for episode #143 of my podcast, where he interviewed me with follow up questions from a webinar I did for Gemba Academy on SPC.
Before I moved to San Antonio, Ron and used to live just about five miles apart in Keller, Texas and would meet for coffee regularly… but, today, we are talking via Skype. We’re talking about his background with both Six Sigma and Lean and about how these methods can be used together. Ron tells a story about a time he used statistical methods to solve something that might have been difficult with standard Lean approaches.
For a link to this episode, refer people to www.leanblog.org/181.
Two recent Dilbert cartoons resonated with me on themes related to improvement and employee recognition.
Below is the first part of the strip (view the whole eight-panel Sunday cartoon here) talks about a comment Lean and Kaizen theme of having a “bias for action.” This is often talked about in a week-long “Kaizen Event.” Having a bias for action means the event week isn’t spent just analyzing and brainstorming… actions are important, but need to be taken in a systematic way, as opposed to just wildly trying things.
I had a speaking engagement yesterday for a large system, with the audience consisting mainly of hospital CEOs and CFOs. I was able to be around for the entire morning, which included a really outstanding kickoff talk by the system CEO (talking about process improvement as a key strategy) and followed by two internal P.I. people who gave an outstanding talk.
I tweeted some of the highlights and top quotes, which I’ve collected here in this Storify page.
I’d read before that Apple’s supplier (Foxconn) was having trouble assembling iPhone 5s to Apple’s standards… but this article contains some shocking stats: “Apple Returns Millions of Defective iPhone 5 Smartphones.”
Millions… 5 to 8 million defective phones returned. Foxconn has only been able to achieve an 80% quality rating… suggesting 2 in 10 have some sort of problem. What were Apple’s expectations? Shockingly low.
I’ve been fortunate to have the chance to visit an Autoliv factory in Utah – a great Lean company that makes air bags and protective devices for cars and passengers. I was really impressed with Autoliv, as were the healthcare leaders from across North America who visited as part of the Healthcare Value Network efforts. Like healthcare, the work done by Autoliv is a matter of “life or death” with a very strong mission and sense of purpose. The HVN visitors were very impressed with the quality culture and the prompt management support that’s made available when a problem occurs in a production cell.
At the AME Spring Conference in San Antonio, I saw a presentation by Thomas Hartman, a Senior Director at Autoliv: “17 Years on Lessons Learned: Building and Sustaining a Lean Culture.”
I’m “live blogging” the presentation in this post and will update it as the talk goes. Unless in italics the comments are quotes or paraphrases from Thomas.
Hat tip to Kevin Meyer for sending me a link to this ridiculous post from the website of Minitab, the maker of statistical software that’s used by Six Sigma belts: “Lean, Six Sigma, or Lean Six Sigma?“ I’m sure my comment there won’t be published, so I’ll share my thoughts here.
My whole career, I have worked with the Lean methodology (aka the Toyota Production System). I’ve just really never done much with Six Sigma. I’ve read about Six Sigma and I took a Green Belt course when I worked at Dell in the late 90s. I’ve studied and used statistical methods (especially what I learned in my Industrial Engineering studies and at MIT), but I’ve never done anything I would call Six Sigma in my career.
I have respect for Six Sigma as a discipline, just as if I were a chef, I would have respect for pastry chefs. They can co-exist in the kitchen and you might both use whisks, but you have slightly different training to do different things – these roles aren’t interchangeable and neither are Lean and Six Sigma. That’s one reason I get riled up about so-called “Lean Sigma” or “Lean Six Sigma.”
I don’t know about you, but I’m sick of politics. I try to be an engaged citizen… but both parties drive me nuts. The cable news networks are all beyond ridiculous. This presidential election cycle takes way too long. There is no truth, just spin… people get their own beliefs and biases reinforced by their favorite news network and the Facebook friends they haven’t hidden. Blah.
So, to amuse myself, I created this fake political battle – a November election between Lean and Six Sigma.
The first ad, from a fake Super PAC called “Six Sigma Horizons.”
Enjoy. I’m sure a rebuttal ad from the Lean PAC will be coming soon — ah, it’s here now.
What a great time on Thursday with Masaaki Imai! We were hosted by a non-profit organization, SightLife, that has used Lean to improve the way they collect, process, and ship corneas to transplant patients around the world. It’s a bit of a cliche’ to say that Lean allows us to see the world through “new eyes” — but SightLife literally makes that happen.
In attendance were many friends, including Brian Buck and fellow author Naida Grunden. Jon Miller and Mike Wroblewski from Kaizen Institute were there, as well (with Mike presenting). I was able to thank Mr. Imai for what I have learned from, giving him a copy of my latest book and accepting a copy of his, as seen in the picture at the bottom of the post.
Some highlights from Mr. Imai’s remarks:
Here are links to some more articles I’ve read recently that might be of interest on a number of Lean related topics:THE MORE THE MERRIER (The New Yorker) – “But there’s a strong case to be made that corporate America’s fetish for cost-cutting has gone too far.” Hospital performance rewards fail to cut death rates (Journal-Sentinel) – “Measuring outcomes is more difficult than measuring processes, but measures of outcomes are becoming more common.” Student Aid: Class works with Union Hospital on student projects
Thanks to Dean Bliss for sending an article to me about some of the great Lean healthcare work taking place in Iowa. I’ve visited Iowa a number of times to give talks and visit hospitals and I know many of the leaders from their involvement in the Healthcare Value Network. There have been many people who moved over from the best Iowa lean manufacturing companies to help improve Iowa Healthcare (including Dean). New Shingo Award winner John Toussaint, MD even went to medical school in Iowa. What’s in the water there? :-)
Before getting into all of the good stuff, there are two things that bothered me a bit:
- The headline about “squeezing costs”
- The line about “speeding up” processes.