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The Problem with Lean 6 Sigma


When Jeff Resweber took an MIT online course to learn about Lean 6 Sigma, he was impressed with the concept, but he had one major critique.

“Lean 6 Sigma works well to improve a specific process,” Resweber said. “But the problem with the methodology is the automatic assumption that the end product is valuable — they also assume that the start point is the correct one.”

Identifying the true source of the process is critical, according to Resweber. To find the real starting point, you have to know which questions to ask and go deeper into the organization.

Beyond getting to the true source of the process, figuring out how to take the process and do something valuable with it adds value.

“If you don’t do all that stuff, what happens is you have a really efficient way of making something that’s useless,” said Resweber, comparing the phenomenon to the legendary TPS reports from the movie Office Space.

“It’s like creating an incredibly efficient way of producing TPS reports. When someone finally asks, ‘What do you do with TPS reports?’ The answer is, ‘I don’t know, but we can make them really fast now.’ I’ve added a lot of efficiency in organizations by knowing what questions to ask.”

As Peter Drucker said, “Nothing is less productive than to make efficient that which should not be done at all.”


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