“Knowledge is what keeps the momentum going between dreams and reality.” -Author Unknown
I am a firm believer that the “thinking” that occurs while practicing lean manufacturing and six sigma is extremely important.
I was reminded of this by, well, myself when I re-read an answer I gave Kevin Meyer a month or so ago for a blog series he’s running.
And I won’t back away from this since I truly believe that learning how to think is far more important than any single “tool” or “technique” one can learn.
But does this mean the tools and techniques of continuous improvement aren’t important? Of course not.
In fact, I’d be willing to wager that the more tools and techniques you know the better you’ll be able to think and solve problems. Allow me to explain.
Continuous Improvement Snobs
There are some folks so in love with either lean or six sigma they snub their nose at the other.
Some ‘lean purists’ will attempt to say, for example, how six sigma is no good and that they wouldn’t be caught dead using “it” as if it (six sigma) were some type of disease.
Likewise there are ‘six sigma purists’ who think lean is a second class continuous improvement citizen due to what they feel to be a simple set of tools.
With all due respect, I find both sets of people highly ignorant… but that’s just me.
Learn it all
My approach has always been to learn as much as I can about all facets of continuous improvement. You see, I could really care less if something is labeled lean, six sigma, lean six sigma, TOC, etc.
All I want to know is how to solve problems no matter the situation. And time has taught me that sometimes a so-called six sigma toolset might be of better use than a so-called lean toolset.
For example, I am not sure I’ve ever read Dr. James Womack or Dr. Jeffrey Liker (two leading ‘lean’ experts) ever write about the benefits or importance of a repeatable and reproducible measurement system.
Likewise, I am not sure I’ve ever read George Box (a leading statistical expert) write about the greatness of an andon system. But does this mean six sigma ‘belts’ should not learn about what an andon system is? Of course not.
Moral of the story
So, the moral of my rant is this. I truly believe the more you learn the more you’ll be able to think. And the more you’re able to think the better you’ll be at solving problems. And, in the end, isn’t that what continuous improvement is really about?
Do you agree with me? Have you ever heard a ‘lean’ guru bash six sigma or perhaps a ‘six sigma’ guru bash lean? What is your response when they do?