Total Quality Management has been around for a long time. If you look at the history of continuous improvement, it formally goes back to Frederick Taylor in the late 1800’s. I believe some even estimate aspects of quality management to back even further. If you think about, wherever there has been operations (such as building the pyramids), then quality will undoubtedly be an aspect of proper management.
Which brings me to this chart that I hate. But, I have to admit, I have a hard time articulating why this chart, which I’ve seen many, many times – irks me so bad. But, let me attempt to give you a few reasons why this Chart, which is peddled by lean and six sigma consultants everywhere – is absolutely wrong.
Why This Continuous Improvement Model is Wrong
Okay, let me try to articulate this for you. I don’t promise to make much sense, but this chart just feels all wrong to me. I’m a bit emotional right now, so bear with me.
1. Placing Design for Six Sigma at the top of the pyramid is messed up
At all the companies that I’ve consulted and worked at, I can tell you that DFSS is often compared to using a chainsaw, when using scissors is good enough – and even better in most situations. In other words, Design for Six Sigma is rarely needed and often waste time, resources, when a quicker more iterative model would work better.
Yes, I understand the metaphor of “low hanging fruit” and that as operations have less wastes in them, it’s harder to identify and eliminate the variation. I get that. Still, the model as shown above gives off the impression that DFSS is the top methodology and that the others are just stepping stones. That’s wrong.
2. Michael George has really created a lot of havoc
Michael George, the author of the book “Lean Six Sigma” is the root cause of the many misconceptions about Lean and Six Sigma.
Yes, I understand he has two first names and if we transpose them, we get George Michael. That’s besides the point.
Here’s the kicker: Michael George claims that Six Sigma is about quality and Lean is about speed. That misunderstanding has made it into so much Lean and Six Sigma education that it has really impacted everybody’s understanding, teaching, and, sadly, application.
Lean is clearly about quality. So is Six Sigma.
If the Above Model is Wrong, then What is Right?
Great question. I have some ideas, but I want to hear from you. What do you think? If you want to draw an alternative model, then mail it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll post it for debate among my audience. You can draw it on a whiteboard, napkin, or any piece of paper. Take a picture of it and send it to me and I’ll post it. Send your bio along with it too, if you want and I’ll post your bio along with your proposed model.
What do you think?