LeadershipLeanSix Sigma

Parenting and Lean Six Sigma

By Ron Pereira Updated on June 15th, 2009

I am the father of 4 wonderfully perfect children. I love them more than words can describe and couldn’t imagine my life without them.

And, recently, I’ve been thinking about how much having children helps me to sharpen my lean and six sigma practitioner “saw.”

Of course this isn’t to say that those without kids can’t also sharpen their lean and six sigma saws… but we parents just might have a bit of an advantage if we leverage this gift we’ve been given.

So, with this said, here are some of the ways my children help me to be better at what I do.


Raising children takes a tremendous amount of commitment and self sacrifice. No matter what… we know at least one of our kids will be hopping on our bed by 6:00 AM each and every morning.

Likewise, anyone serious about lean or six sigma knows how important it is to stay committed to excellence. In fact, every day you should ask yourself… have I left this place better than it was when I walked in this morning?


Ah yes, patience. It goes without saying that my kids often get on my nerves and really try my patience. Especially as they learn to ‘test boundaries.’ But I know this is part of growing up so I do my best to persevere.

Likewise, continuous improvement often comes much slower than many expect or desire. In other words, patience is most definitely required!

Continuous Learning

My wife home-schools our children and I often marvel at how much my oldest (6 years old) daughter has learned.

She, if you’ll allow a proud Dad to boast for a moment, is reading at around a 3rd grade level and can work my iPhone better than most adults I know!

But the thing I am most in love with is how hungry all of my children are to learn. I pray they never lose this.

Likewise, all lean and six sigma practitioners must continue to learn. There are many ways to go about this such as reading books, or blogs, or online training that never ends.

Long-term Thinking

As parents my wife and I are constantly thinking long term with respect to our children. We are doing our very best to form their faith while teaching them to be good citizens.

Likewise, many business owners and senior executives would do well to focus on the long term and not on how to simply make Wall Street happy this week.

Why, Why, Why, Why, Why

If there is one lean principle most kids have mastered by the age of 3 or 4 it’s how to ask why over and over.

Sadly most parents – myself included from time to time – often grow tired of hearing so many questions day in and day out which often times beats this amazing gift right out of our most important assets (our kids).

So, it goes without saying that if we grown-ups all learned – or remembered – how we used to ask why over and over… well, the world might just be a better place.

Let’s Hear from More Parents

If you’re a parent or spend a lot of time around children… what have I missed? Are there other things you’ve learned from your little one’s about continuous improvement or life in general?

  1. Robert Anderson

    June 15, 2009 - 2:29 pm

    Couldn’t agree more. Children really force you to gain a deep understanding of the subject matter yourself by asking why, AGAIN and AGAIN and AGAIN. I too have 4 children and 5 why problem solving is a skill I get practice at every day because of them.

  2. Jan Jochmann

    June 16, 2009 - 3:07 am

    Hi Ron,

    Once again, a perfect article. I am not reading your blog for a long time so far, but count with me that I will continue to do it. You have the gift to explain things very well and still shortly, so please keep up the good work.

    What you wrote is a wonderful analogy, which you can also use during any training on lean principles. Although I am not a parent yet, I think you hit the head of the nail with it.

    Best regards

  3. Ron Pereira

    June 16, 2009 - 9:09 pm

    Robert, thanks for the comment and congrats on being the Dad to 4! I’m sure you’re very proud.

    Thanks for the comment and kind words, Jan. I really do appreciate it.

    All the best to you both.

  4. Patrick

    June 22, 2009 - 6:41 am

    I have recently become a disciple of leading change/lean sigma and I have applied the principle of leading change to our family vacations…It was a great experience as I have learned to use a vocabulary that we more appropriate to my audience…but we all got what we wanted out of our vacations. It was transparent, good, clear communication.

    You are right, focus on long term with your kids and continuously improve as a parent,

    Thank you,

  5. Observer

    July 12, 2009 - 12:35 am

    By home schooling do you mean they do not attend a regular school?? If so, does it not deprive them of learning social skills / street smartness?

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