Why Not Step By Step?
©2020, George J. Irwin. All rights reserved.
George, you might be saying, these notebook entries are interesting, but they don't help me through the sequence of a Lean Six Sigma Project. Why don't you have step-by-step instructions from start to finish on getting from "this process really needs improvement" to "improved, done, on to the next conquest"?
There are two reasons for my approach.
First, there is plenty of reliable information online and in print that can take you through a DMAIC (Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, Control) project, a Lean exercise, and its cousins. I can't say I've read even a statistically significant example of these works (searching on the term "Six Sigma Project" returns nine digits' worth of results at this writing, "Six Sigma Process" a bunch of ads and "paid placements"). What I have read is, overall, quite good. And that's not counting the on-demand videos. If that's not enough, there are professional organizations to leverage, including for full courses and certifications on Lean Six Sigma. Those courses go way beyond what I can possibly convey in short shots here. In fact, the Black Belt Class I took ran for four non-consecutive weeks, and even then, the instructors had to speed up at times and still noted that they had not covered all aspects of the practice.
Second, I think it's more useful to share my experiences and perspective than to trot through the overall process in much the same manner as has been done before.
If I may cross paths with another part of my writing, this is what is called "idiosyncratic detail" by William Least Heat Moon, an author who has written several excellent books but is probably still best known for his 1982 work Blue Highways: A Journey Into America. In 1996 I took a master class with Heat Moon. What probably remains my key takeaway from that session is that there are only so many specific stories to be told, but how you tell it is unique. It's the information you bring to storytelling thatŚwe hopeŚmakes it worth reading.
And so it is here in the Notebook.
The aim here is to bring to a general audience some of the presumably interesting aspects of being a Lean Six Sigma Praciticioner, through the perspective of my adventures and, yes, misadventures. In a sense, I am using the fine art of storytelling, which has been around a lot longer than even the earliest scientific-method based attempts at process improvement. You might also notice that some of what I've discussed doesn't apply strictly to Lean Six Sigma. If you have, well, at least I've accomplished something!