Episode 26 — Lean Six Sigma

Episode #26
Original Air Date: 01.17.2017

31 Minutes

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Our Guest This Episode: Andy Crowe, Bill Yates, Nick Walker

The cast of Manage This discusses the Lean Six Sigma certification and why it is so beneficial for those aspiring to lower waste, and increase predictability. They teach us the importance of identifying the right things to measure and monitor.

Favorite Quotes from Our Talk:

"The idea behind standard deviations, each one of those is called a “sigma.” So here’s what Six Sigma is. Six Sigma says, okay, all of your results within six standard deviations of the mean fall into quality. So that’s good when you get to that level. What it really means is that there’s only 3.4 defects per million items produced. That’s powerful. That’s considered to be world-class. So Six Sigma does a bunch of things. It looks at product design. It looks at the process you’re using to get there. And it looks at the outcome at the end. And it tries to form all of those together into a set of processes to improve and get your quality up to that level."

- Andy Crowe

"You know, one of the key points that I think of when I look at this – and Andy, you and I have talked about this many times – is the project that I’m leading at the time, I have to have outputs. I have to have deliverables that are very measurable. If they are measurable, I think there’s some great value that we can pull from Lean and Six Sigma."

- Bill Yates

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ANDY CROWE ● BILL YATES ● NICK WALKER

NICK WALKER:  Welcome to Manage This, the podcast by project managers for project managers.  We get together every two weeks to talk about what matters to you as a professional project manager, whether it’s certification issues or creating and implementing successful projects.  We draw on the expertise of experts in the field and share their challenges and successes.

I’m your host, Nick Walker, and beside me are the two in-house experts who guide our discussion, Andy Crowe and Bill Yates.  And Andy, you know, folks go online, they look at your bio, and they see all these letters behind your name.  And probably most of our listeners are familiar with most of those letters, those acronyms.  But there’s one, a Black Belt Six Sigma.  Should I be dodging blows here?  What is the Black Belt Six Sigma?

ANDY CROWE:  It’s funny, Nick.  It’s a Six Sigma Black Belt.  What it is, Six Sigma has different levels of credentialing.  And there’s Yellow Belt, Green Belt, Black Belt, Master Black Belt, and Master Black Belt Trainer.  So I’m somewhere in the middle there in terms of that.

What it is, it’s funny, there’s a lot of project management certifications out there.  We’ve talked about the PMP before.  We’ve talked about the PMI-ACP.  We’ve probably touched on the Program Management Professional and Portfolio, the PgMP and the PfMP, and certainly the Certified Associate in Project Management, the CAPM.  A lot of alphabet soup there.

And it’s really funny because, even when I go do project management conferences, and people introduce me as a Six Sigma Black Belt, a lot of people in the room don’t know what that is.  They think it’s some martial art.  It’s not.  It’s related to quality.  It’s a quality certification.  And it’s really the topic of today’s podcast is about Six Sigma, about Lean Six Sigma – which is something a little bit different – and how those work and how they can benefit.

NICK WALKER:  Is this a certification that’s been around a long time?  Or is this something that’s fairly new?

ANDY CROWE:  It’s been around a while.  Now, what happened with that, when it first came out, there wasn’t a lot of structure as to who owned the certification.  It was one of those things that a lot of different organizations were able to give that.  And then that’s changed.  We’ll talk about that later in the podcast a little bit, about how that’s evolved, who’s vying for kind of control of that certification, what that looks like, as well.

BILL YATES:  There are a couple of key components here that I want Andy to explain to the audience, Nick, because if there’s a Lean component, then there’s a Six Sigma component.  And I like where we’re headed with some background here, where this thing, where this movement began because it is all related to quality.  And so Andy, what about Lean?  When did that really come into play?

ANDY CROWE:  Lean is an amazing philosophy by itself.  So it’s a series of practices.  And what Lean is trying to do is get rid of waste.  Now, this is useful in a bunch of organizations.  But it’s really, really useful in manufacturing projects.  So if you have a project that has manufacturing, this is where it comes in.  Lean really came into vogue at Toyota.  And so it started after World War II.  It really picked up steam in the ‘70s and ‘80s.  And this is when Toyota started surpassing, and Honda and some of these organizations started really surpassing U.S. manufacturing.

And I’ve lived through it.  I watched it firsthand, that it absolutely did.  You know, there were times when, if you got 80,000 miles out of some U.S. cars, that was good.  And then, you know, some of the Toyotas were getting 200,000 miles.  And it was just astonishing what they were able to do.  Well, they got there through a number of things.  Lean was part of it.  So Lean really talks about – the acronym we use in Lean is TIMWOOD, T-I-M-W-O-O-D.  And what it is, is it’s where you look for, where the Toyota production system started looking for waste.  So they started looking at waste in transportation.

Now, one of the famous examples of that is Walmart.  Walmart started looking at their transportation.  They said we’re delivering these goods, okay, we’re sending trucks out all over the place, full of goods, and we’re bringing them back empty.  And so they started saying, how can we fix that?  That is a big problem right there is waste.  Waste in transportation.  So they looked at ways that they could contract, as a transportation provider, they could send a truck out full and then maybe load it with another company’s production goods and bring it back full.  So it was kind of fascinating how they dealt with that.  So that’s the “T” is Transportation.

Inventory.  You have too much inventory?  That’s a problem.  And so the Japanese philosophy everybody’s familiar with is just-in-time management, JIT.  JIT says we’re going to reduce inventory levels down to almost zero.  And the goal behind that is twofold.  Number one, you don’t have your money tied up in inventory.  But number two, and this is a really powerful secondary effect, and in fact it’s probably the most powerful secondary effect of low inventory, just in time, is that the scarcity increases people’s attention and value on these parts. So that now you don’t have a whole stack of this part lying around that you can be careless with.  Each one is kind of treated much more precious, in a way, and they’re more careful.

BILL YATES:  There’s that awareness.  Yeah, it’s funny.  I think about, like when I’m traveling, if I’ve got plenty of time to make it to the gate before I catch a flight, then I’m not very worried about it.  I may stop and do a little browsing and shop or do whatever.  There’s plenty of waste.  But if, man, if my time is sharp, if I’m looking at my watch going, okay, I’ve got to get to the gate now, so I’ve got to beeline, and nothing distracts me.  I stay really focused.  So I see how this applies.

ANDY CROWE:  Bill, you and I have traveled a lot.  Have you ever missed a flight?

BILL YATES:  No, I haven’t.

ANDY CROWE:  I’ve missed one in my career.  One flight.  And you know what the stunning thing about it is I had more than enough time in this particular one.  Yeah.  I could go on.  We’ll spare the listeners for that.  But some people are probably cringing right now, feeling the pain.  So that’s the “I” in TIMWOOD.

The “M” is motion.  And this is trying to reduce the amount of unnecessary motion in an action.  So you saw this.  This is what happened with the assembly lines.  This goes all the way back to Frederick Taylor at Ford, back in the early 1900s, timing people, coming up with more efficient movements, trying to reduce waste in motion.

Then waiting.  Ideally, and this is really the, oh, what is the book, the goal?  The “Theory of Constraints” looks at this and tries to say, okay, we want to reduce waiting.  We want to make everything go smoothly so that there’s no wasted time in waiting.  My doctor could certainly benefit from that one.  Goodness.

Overprocessing.  And so this is an interesting one.  You know, you want to get it right.  You want to get it just enough.  In project management we talk about gold plating.  And gold plating is adding over and above the documented scope.  And so overprocessing is a form of waste, doing more than is needed to a particular item.  Overproduction is the second “O.”  And overproduction is just making too many of something.  And then the “D” is a big one everybody will be familiar with is defects.  That causes rework, and that causes a lot of pain rippling through the system.

So they look at Transportation, Inventory, Motion, Waiting, Overprocessing, Overproduction, and Defects.  And they try and reduce these forms of waste.  These are the enemies of Lean.  So what happens when you get there is that ideally you have a really lean, mean system that’s very efficient.

NICK WALKER:  So that’s the Lean portion.  What about Six Sigma?  What does that even mean?

ANDY CROWE:  All right.  So this is where we get into the weeds a little bit.  We won’t go too far into it.  But basically, when you look at quality, you can plot quality out on a – and it’s oftentimes in the form of a bell curve; okay?  It’s always going to form some kind of a distribution.  So we’ll call it a bell curve, even though it might be a little more erratic than that in some cases.

So now you’ve got a bell curve, you can look at what we call a standard deviation.  Now, standard deviation tells us, a high standard deviation means there’s a lot of diversity in data.  And you may value diversity in your workplace and in a lot of other areas, but you don’t value diversity in manufacturing outcomes.  You want them to be very similar.  There’s a wonderful movie called “Sergeant York,” back from – you’ve seen it?

NICK WALKER:  You’re dating us.

ANDY CROWE:  I know, I know.  And you need to watch it regardless.  It’s about the most decorated World War II hero, Alvin York.  And he was the most decorated World War II hero.  No, no, wait, it’s World War I.  I was getting that confused with Audie Murphy.  And he was an amazing sharpshooter.  And so when you look at that movie, and you see – they were testing him early on in boot camp, and they thought he had missed the target because his groupings were so tight; okay?  So that would be a really low standard deviation.  His shots didn’t deviate from each other.  Really high standard deviation would be like most of us would do, and they would be kind of scattered around all over the place.

The idea behind standard deviations, each one of those is called a “sigma.”  So here’s what Six Sigma is.  Six Sigma says, okay, all of your results within six standard deviations of the mean fall into quality.  So that’s good when you get to that level.  What it really means is that there’s only 3.4 defects per million items produced.  That’s powerful.  That’s considered to be world-class.  So Six Sigma does a bunch of things.  It looks at product design.  It looks at the process you’re using to get there.  And it looks at the outcome at the end.  And it tries to form all of those together into a set of processes to improve and get your quality up to that level.

NICK WALKER:  Putting these both together, then, what’s the advantage of putting these together – the Lean, the Six Sigma.

ANDY CROWE:  Yeah.  So me it’s like chocolate and peanut butter.  You put them together, and they get better.  These two really complement each other, Nick, quite a bit.  And so right now we can look at our team the Falcons, here in Atlanta.  And you look at Matt Ryan and Julio Jones; right?  And they’re better together.  They just function really, really well.  So it works.

BILL YATES:  The receiver knows when to break out of his route, and the quarterback knows where he’s going to break out of his route and when he’s going to be open for that little flash of a moment.  So Matt Ryan delivers the ball to a precise point on the field, even before Julio Jones is there.  And we’re watching it, going, whoa, it’s magic.  So this is – this could be magic.

ANDY CROWE:  And this season Julio Jones almost doesn’t even have to be there.  He can just be in the general vicinity, and the ball kind of finds its way to him.

BILL YATES:  Yeah, I think he’s got a 10-foot – 10-feet arms and sticky hands.

ANDY CROWE:  Yeah, something’s going on.  So here’s the point, Nick, to your question, is Lean eliminates all this unnecessary stuff; okay?  The TIMWOOD part.  But Six Sigma makes sure that it is repeatable and makes sure it’s predictable.  And so now what you get is this really – there’s a great quote, and I can’t pronounce the guy’s name.  I think it’s Saint-Exupery is his last name.  But he said that perfection is achieved, not when there’s nothing left to add, but when there’s nothing left to take away.  That’s what we’re looking at here.  We’re trying to get this to the most effective set of steps and processes, no waste, and that they are predictable and consistent and delivering amazing world-class outcomes.

NICK WALKER:  Now, this sounds a little bit intimidating to me, and it reminds me of back earlier in my career, when I began to work for a particular employer, and he asked me if I had a particular certification.  And it was one of these, it’s like, okay, I’m thinking, okay, yeah, it’d be great to have that.  But do I really need that?  And so I made the mistake – by the way, don’t ever do this.  I said, “No, I don’t have that certification; and, you know, I probably never will.”  Don’t ever do that.  Because I found out actually that I needed it, and four years later I got it.

BILL YATES:  Never say never.

NICK WALKER:  Yeah.  But who needs this?  You know?

BILL YATES:  Yeah.  But let me, yeah, let me take a first stab at that because that’s such a good point.  And the certifications are great.  But really there’s so much excellent knowledge here within Lean and within Six Sigma.  I think for project managers there’s, I mean, when you’re spending time on an airplane, why not read something that could bring great value to you in your job?  And certainly this is something to add to the list, to do some research and look at Lean, look at Six Sigma, and see are there aspects of this that I can pull directly into my project?

You know, one of the key points that I think of when I look at this – and Andy, you and I have talked about this many times – is the project that I’m leading at the time, I have to have outputs.  I have to have deliverables that are very measurable.  If they are measurable, I think there’s some great value that we can pull from Lean and Six Sigma.

ANDY CROWE:  I agree.  And I would almost decouple that from the certification itself.  The certification’s worth something.  You can say, hey, I’ve got a Yellow Belt; hey, I’ve got Green Belt; hey, I’ve got a Black Belt, et cetera.  Those have some value on a résumé.  The real value behind this is figuring out how to use it and how to implement it.  And so it gets back – it’s almost true regardless of what industry you’re in, what you’re doing.  The real difficulty, the real challenge in all of our work is figuring out what levers matter and how to get your hands on them; right?  That’s the trick.

It doesn’t matter what job you’re doing, it’s figuring out how can I make an impact, and how can I make the right impact?  What levers do I pull?  In this case this is a really useful set of processes to help you understand, hey, do I need to modify my design?  Do I need to modify the process?  Do I need to drop certain things?  And so it’s valuable just from that standpoint alone.

BILL YATES:  I can think of a practical example.  If I think about how I’ve managed risk and the process for managing risk in past projects, there are lessons to be learned right here.  You know, there is always waste.  I would say there’s always something that could be removed from the way we manage risks on a project.  You think about your risk register.  What items do you want to capture in there as you identify risks?  And then, as I think about triggers that could trigger risk events, are they measurable?  Are they easy to see?  Are there real clear signs when they’re going to occur?

ANDY CROWE:  Right.

BILL YATES:  Are there things that we’re measuring that we shouldn’t be?  You know, are there things that we’re planning out for risks that really don’t bring value?  So those are things that, again, we get more and more mature, the more we go through similar types of projects; and we realize, wow, we spent a lot of time and a lot of money, a lot of effort, looking into and developing a plan for this type of risk that didn’t occur.  So let’s go back and measure that likelihood and then do a sanity check of should we be investing in this or not.  You know, does it bring value?  So I think about things like a risk register, things like issue logs, communications planning that we do where Lean and Six Sigma can certainly come into play.  But again, it’s got to be measurable.  It’s got to be something that we can measure.

ANDY CROWE:  That’s true.  So it’s less qualitative and more quantitative.  We’re interested in what can be measured.  And was it Peter Drucker who said, “That which can be measured can be improved,” or gets improved?  I think I butchered that quote.  But the idea is what gets measured gets improved, I think, is closer.  And this idea that we need to start thinking about, okay, what is important?  How do we measure it?  What does success really look like?  Because you and I have both been on projects where, you know, one time I did a project, and the scope said that the application needed to be fast.  What does that even mean?  You know?

BILL YATES:  Right, right.  Yeah, I’ve had a customer call me before, I remember it was a large telecom.  They were using our software system.  And the guy called and said, “Hey, man, this system is running slow.”  Same thing, you know.  “Okay, what do you mean by that?”  You know, and it took a long conversation to define what was the expected outcome in the past, and when did things change?  Now we can start to isolate and get back and do some of that root cause analysis and figure out what changed and why.

ANDY CROWE:  Right.  So you know there are worse things than just starting to measure everything because at some point you’re going to start to understand what things are important to measure.  If you don’t know off the beginning of the project, start measuring as much as you can.  Get the data.  Collect data.

NICK WALKER:  So a lot of folks might be saying, okay, I’m not involved in manufacturing a physical product I can hold in my hand.  But do we need to be thinking of sort of everything that we do as a product?  We’re manufacturing something.  We’re manufacturing a service.  We’re manufacturing a project.

BILL YATES:  Yeah.  You know, another angle to look at this with, something that I’ve certainly felt the pain for in the past, is think about the reports that we produce as project teams, project managers in particular.  We meet with stakeholders early on.  I meet with my customer, and the customer says, “Hey, this is the type of data that I want to see on a weekly or a monthly basis coming out of this project.”  And we get excited about it.  We look and say, “Hey, the data’s there.  We can create these reports.  Let me show you all the capabilities.”  You know?  So everybody gets excited about it.

And you can almost think of that simple, you know, you have a car, and then suddenly you start adding features to it, and the price tag and the ability to maintain it goes up and up and up.  And we’ve done that with our project reporting many times.  I have.  Our teams have done that in the past.  Then, when you think about these practices, what we need to do is be disciplined and go, okay, let’s review these reports with our stakeholders on a periodic basis and figure out, does this – first of all, are you even looking at the reports?  Are you using the reports?  Do they provide the data for you to make actionable decisions today?  Oh, we’re not even using them, you know, so looking to see do they bring value.

ANDY CROWE:  You know, Nick, it’s funny, a lot of organizations have started to benefit from this.  And they’ve looked at it a number of ways, especially let’s take just the Six Sigma side, for a minute, of this equation.  So they’ve looked at it and said, well, we know that a project can include a product, a service, or a result.  Some outcome; right?  It doesn’t have to be a shiny widget you can hold in your hand.  It can be any of those things, or a transition, for that matter.  The project can be that.

So when they look at that, if you look at a result, let’s take a hotel, and let’s say a hotel has these rooms that they rent out to guests, and then somebody has to come through, housekeeping has to come through and flip that room and return it back to standard.  Well, there would be a great opportunity for Six Sigma because what they’re saying is, look, we want to get it back to a predictable standard every time.  And we don’t want to do rework, and we don’t want to do all of these things that cause trouble.

You know, and you’ve all – we’ve stayed in enough hotels and motels in our lives to know that sometimes they get that right, and sometimes they very much do not get it right.  I always turn off the TV when they come on with those exposés and take a blacklight in.  I just don’t want to know.  I don’t want to know.

BILL YATES:  Right, right, yeah, yeah.

ANDY CROWE:  I want to look away.

BILL YATES:  Never stay in a hotel again.

ANDY CROWE:  Right.  Certainly never drink out of one of those cups in the bathroom again.  But this idea is that you’re looking to reduce variability.  You want it to be predictable.  You want it to be repeatable.  And I’ll tell you this.  I think it’s a good thing to get it predictable and repeatable, even if it’s not necessarily, quote/unquote, “right.”  Because now you have a place to start, and you can improve, and you can get it up to the point where it’s high quality.

NICK WALKER:  Let’s go back to something you said earlier about defects.  You said an acceptable rate, or actually a great rate is 3.4 defects per million.

ANDY CROWE:  Yup.

BILL YATES:  Right.

NICK WALKER:  Okay.  Some people might say, why, that’s pretty low; some people say, oh, that’s pretty high.  You know, is that really the gold standard?

ANDY CROWE:  It’s world-class.  So let’s start there.  So few companies achieve that.  And, you know, I got a Christmas gift, for Christmas, and it was a special high-butane lighter for grills so I can light my Big Green Egg really quickly with this thing.  And it’s like a blowtorch.  And…

BILL YATES:  Flamethrower?

ANDY CROWE:  …it was defective; you know?  Now, I have no idea how many they produce.  I don’t know.  But I know the cost to me and to them of me returning that, them having to take that back, and who knows what they’ll do with it, throw it in a big pile of defects, or maybe this is one of their 3.4 per million.

But let’s talk about airline flights.  And in one sense, if you said, okay, that the outcome is a safe landing, then 3.4 defects or 3.4 variations from that per million is not acceptable.

NICK WALKER:  Right.

ANDY CROWE:  Let’s take pharmaceuticals.

BILL YATES:  Right.

ANDY CROWE:  And, you know, you have high purity standards.  That might not be high enough.  In fact, it’s not going to be high enough for most of them, won’t even be nearly high enough.  But at some point, Nick, you have to look at the benefit and cost.  So here’s what you’ve got.  You’ve got a curve.  You’ve got sort of a traditional exponential curve.  The amount of energy, resources, time, and money it takes to increase quality beyond Six Sigma is tremendous.

And really, this is not absolute.  I’m going to make a statement that a lot of people might correct me on.  But I believe really most of the benefit comes in with inspection at that point.  You just inspect out the defects.  Now, you can’t, we know you can’t inspect quality in.  But once you’ve reached Six Sigma level, about the only way to get better is to just use the tool of inspection and cull out those 3.4 per million.  It’s expensive.  It’s expensive in terms of waste.  It’s time-consuming.  But it can get there.

BILL YATES:  Yeah.  You know, Andy gave really good examples of cost of quality and cost of poor quality.  Those are things that, as a team, we have to really have a clear conversation with our customer to determine what are acceptable, you know, what’s acceptable.  We have to look at the benefits, look at the cost to achieve that level of quality and make sure that we’re all on the same page.  And, you know, an example I like to give is, if I think about my expectation of quality, if I go to purchase a high-end automobile, it’s very different than if I were to go to Dollar General and buy some toys for my kids; right?  Or buy a tool set from Home Depot versus, again, Dollar General.

ANDY CROWE:  The flea market.

BILL YATES:  Yeah.

ANDY CROWE:  We’re not calling out Dollar General.

BILL YATES:  Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.

NICK WALKER:  I’ve gotten some great stuff at flea markets.

BILL YATES:  Absolutely.  But what’s tough is to educate the team, to have the project team on the same page so that we understand, okay, for all different aspects of our project we have to make sure that we’re looking to see, okay, where are we adding quality in the right place?  So are we investing that for quality in the right parts of our project?

NICK WALKER:  Are these the kind of challenges that are going to be typical with most projects?

ANDY CROWE:  It depends, again, Nick.  If you have a repeatable outcome as part of your project, then I’ll tell you, you’re going to encounter some challenges in getting it to this.  And one of the challenges is just understanding.  At first people zip in and say, “Okay, this is easy.  I know exactly what to do.”  What you find is it really takes a lot of thought to get the process leaned out.  And processes resist being leaned out.  They don’t want to be lean.

Processes also resist getting up to that Six Sigma level because it’s going to make people have to do things differently.  When I say “processes,” there’s no such thing really as a process resisting.  It’s people.  People resist this because it’s going to change the nature of their job.  It’s going to change what they do and how they do it.  So what you’re going to see, a lot of times the organization resists it.

A lot of times individuals managing these processes put up resistance.  Sometimes it’s passive-aggressive resistance.  Sometimes they say they’ll do it and don’t, et cetera.  You go back to the data.  You measure, measure, measure.  And again, you may need help from somebody more experienced to figure out, okay, are we measuring the right things the right way?

BILL YATES:  Right, right, right, right.  That is such a key is to make sure that we’re starting at the right spot, that we’re measuring the right thing, and that we have reliable data that we’re going to build all of this other – build these processes and build all this vigor into; right?

NICK WALKER:  Let’s talk a little bit about the certification.  There might be folks who are saying, yeah, you know, I like the Black Belt.  I like the sound of that.  Okay?  Or there’s something that has sparked their interest in saying, you know, that is a certification I probably should be exploring.

BILL YATES:  Right.  And this area, these certifications for Six Sigma or Lean Six Sigma, this is not as clear an area as, say, PMI and the certifications for project management.  Project management we can all think, okay, well, I’ve got my PMP certification.  It’s based on the PMBOK Guide.  That’s the body of knowledge.

ANDY CROWE:  Or the PRINCE2.

BILL YATES:  Right.  There are really those two big ones.  And in the MEA, PRINCE2 gets more press than it does here in the U.S.  When you look at Lean and look at Six Sigma or look at Lean Six Sigma, you have different bodies of knowledge.  In some cases you don’t even have a body of knowledge.

ANDY CROWE:  Competing bodies of knowledge.

BILL YATES:  Yeah, competing bodies of knowledge.  And so in that you have, yes, you do have different certifications that you can achieve.  You have different credentialing bodies.  Thing about PMI.org.  You have different agencies or different bodies that offer these certifications.  So Black Belt is one.  If I look just at Lean Six Sigma, you have a Yellow Belt, you have Green Belt, Black Belt, and then this Master level that Andy was talking about right off the start there.

ANDY CROWE:  Right.  And that’s not the organization that I went through, the one that you’re referring to.  I went through a different one back in the early 2000s.  And the idea, the amount of effort to go from Black Belt to Master Black Belt, you had to work on so many projects, have so many hours.  You had to have sponsorship from a Master Black Belt Trainer.  And it was kind of ridiculous the amount of energy it took.  So, Nick, I would, like you, say “I will never, never go for my Master Black Belt or Master Black Belt Trainer.”  But we’ll see if that holds true.

NICK WALKER:  Never say never.

BILL YATES:  Right.

ANDY CROWE:  But you know what, I’ve found it to be valuable.  I’ve found it to be a valuable credential to have after my name.  And it’s something that the biggest value for me, okay, I’m a certification junkie like many of our listeners, so I like the letters after my name.  But what I really like is understanding the knowledge and seeing what this has done for companies and organizations.

BILL YATES:  Right.

NICK WALKER:  Yeah, yeah.

ANDY CROWE:  The profits have followed.  IBM’s implemented this, and it has made them major money.  GE, Motorola have done this, and it’s made them a lot of money.  So it is, it is a really good practice.

NICK WALKER:  And that is something I think we probably need to stress.  It’s more than just letters after your name.

BILL YATES:  Yes.

NICK WALKER:  It really is.  So is more certification better?

BILL YATES:  More of everything. It really depends.

ANDY CROWE:  More cowbell.

BILL YATES:  You know, again, it depends on the individual.  I think of a friend of mine who was working for GE.  And at that time they were emphasizing Six Sigma, and there was a lot of emphasis placed on the certifications.  And I remember, you know, Andy’s making it sound like the Black Belt wasn’t that difficult for him.  My friend, the other friend of mine, he had a lot of training he went through.  He had mentors.  He had a lot.  It took a great effort in order to achieve that Black Belt that Andy has, I know.

ANDY CROWE:  It did take a lot of effort.  I look back at it, I love this.  This is right down the center of the plate for me.  So it’s something that I enjoy.

NICK WALKER:  All right.  Hey, we want to remind our listeners that this podcast is a great way to earn your PDUs, Professional Development Units.  Very easy to claim those PDUs for this podcast.  Just go to Velociteach.com and select Manage This Podcast from the top of the page.  Click that button that says Claim PDUs, and it will walk you through the steps.

Well, that’s it for us here on Manage This.  We hope you’ll tune back in on February 7th for our next podcast.  Andy, Bill, thank you, as always, for your expertise.  You can always visit us at Velociteach.com/managethis to subscribe to this podcast, to see a transcript of the show, or to contact us.  And tweet us at @manage_this if you have any comment about the podcast or a question for our experts.

That’s all for this episode.  Talk to you again in a couple of weeks.  In the meantime, keep calm and Manage This.

One response to “Episode 26 — Lean Six Sigma”

  1. Avatar Fred Joyner says:

    To Andy, Nick and Bill – regarding LEAN

    I recently earned the PMP. I am an employee of TVA. However, I am a former employee of ABB, so LEAN and Six Sigma has been in my background for years. I completed George Group LSSBB training at U Tex Arlington 10 years ago. Additionally, I have an MS in Business and began work on another MS in Quality Assurance.

    Here is my explanation of LEAN to the uninitiated:
    “THINK LIKE A BUSINESS OWNER.”

    As you make a product or service, your process has several steps. Each of those steps cost you money. Your desire is to get back more than what the step cost you. If your customer does not value the step (non-value added) then you have lost money. If he does (value added) then you can recover your investment. TIMWOOD identifies seven areas where the customer will likely not value your efforts. Consider an ink pen . Would you pay more for an ink pen that has been inspected, stored, moved around, gold plated, or repaired? No and neither would your customer, but these will cost you dearly. Remember, quality is what the customer says it is — and he will communicate that with his money.

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