Quality, Where Frankenstein Monsters Meet Werewolf Branding

The Only Kind of Money I am Interested in Is the Kind I can Put in my Pocket

The world is enamored with lingo and acronyms and get rich quick on the internet through social media promises. One prospect told me they had been guaranteed a savings of a million dollars, or get their money back.  I declined to meet his offer. Any fool can show profit in a spreadsheet, it is putting into the bank account that is the real proof: Show me the REAL MONEY!

In a recent discussion group I saw someone discussing how they used Ford 8D, ISO, Lean Six Sigma, Six Sigma, Lean, TQM, CQI and TOC on a daily basis. What ever happened to simple logic and common sense, or the scientific method? Oh yeah, you can't sell certified logic. If you could, i would want a grey belt.

But we must not get caught in the trap of TBOWBW, (throwing the baby out with the bath water. Tools are cool! Tools are great! We shouldn't blame the tools for how they are used.

Branding is two sided sword, and Six Sigma, Lean Six Sigma, TQM, TQC, TOC and LEAN are brands. People make money teaching them and certifying them, and negative facts get buried in the branding model lest sales be lost.

Lean Six Sigma, for instance, somehow reminds me of the Wolfman meets Frankenstein. Sorry for the note of levity, but, what is next: Lean six  constraint management gemba sigma? 

And then there is Deming.

People don't know, or have forgotten that Deming is not a brand or a system, but a remarkable man with a simple idea who radically altered our economic landscape. We all have and can learn more from, even if we don't know who he is. (Lean Start Up, Agile Software Development, and on and on.)

Perhaps the best "critique" pointing out the difference between 6 sigma and what Deming taught us comes from the source, Motorola. Go to: http://www.q-skills.com/Deming6sigma.htm (Critique, as opposed to criticism).

Like the old Biblical Saying, Ye shall know them by their Fruits, beware of claims of savings that are local savings, alone. In the big picture, local savings more times than not lead to losses in the overall system. People claim to have saved billions with this toolset or the other. Let the buyer beware: was it real money or spreadsheet money only. Look at the overall performance. Optimizing parts is not optimizing the system. Show me the REAL MONEY!

Problem is, you can't really learn anything useful by merely copying. You can't apply the same tool to every situation. You can apply the principles behind the tools, however. But, those aren't owned by anyone; you can't patent or brand them.

Therefore, rather than trash the tools, I say, deepen their use. Give them a more effective workspace in which to do their magic, based on practical, pragmatic reality testing.Dr. Deming's "System of Knowledge" will only help deepen the effectiveness of your tool of choice, it will give context to them, and keep them on the straight and narrow.

4047 views and 2 responses

  • Nov 26 2010, 11:01 PM Dibyendu De responded: I feel that these tools might be only used when systems behave linearly to improve efficiency and effectiveness, which they seldom do and hence the application of such linear logical tools bears no fruit.

    The gap, I think, lies in spotting the problem and finding the real issues behind each problem which these tools can't actually do since by the time a system exhibits problems it is already in the nonlinear state where linear tools are pretty much useless.

  • Nov 27 2010, 6:52 AM Dan Strongin responded: @Dibyendu, well said, and thanks. For me, the best use of statistical tools is first to know if things are behaving linearly. Once you see they aren't you have to change your approach. This is how Dr. Shewhart first proposed using the Control Chart, for instance, as a tool for operators to know when they can do something and when they can't because the variation they are seeing is within the limits of the system.

About the Author

Dan Strongin works with medium to small companies, helping them master the art and science of managing.

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