Industry Week has a series of articles that you should read: Lean and Continuous Improvement: Twelve in 12. I haven’t read them all yet, but it looks like a good collection.
Right now, I want you to read the first article, “Would Doctor Deming Have Been A Black Belt?”. It’s more interesting than it sounds, so go ahead…I’ll wait right here. I’m especially interested in having you read the case study embedded in the article.
On reading the article, I went down to the comments section, thinking I’d read a set of sharp denigrations of the company and the approach to problem solving portrayed in the example. None of the commenters mentioned the example. My guess is that Deming would say something like, “Neither Six Sigma nor any other improvement approach has a chance of providing value in this organization until it replaces some managers and significantly changes its culture.”
ANY manager who would put a team to work on order entry, then threaten the team leader with losing his or her job because the costs of the process weren’t reduced isn’t fit for his or her job. ANY leadership team that would see fit to take advantage of process performance improvement by reverting back to previous performance so as to enable the reduction of capacity, needs to be replaced by the board. Right now. We’re talking about a dysfunctional organization led by utterly incompetent “managers”. There’s no chance that any approach to continual improvement would work under such circumstances.
All this is apart from the bad approach to process improvement carried out by the “black belt”. But I’ll address that in my next post.