FeaturedLeanSix Sigma

All Bleeding Stops Eventually

By Ron Pereira Updated on April 18th, 2013

Here’s a fact you may not have realized… all bleeding stops eventually.

The key question, of course, is how long it takes to stop it.

Do we quickly apply a band-aid and limit the damage to our body or do we sit around and wait until medical attention can no longer save us?

I know it’s a gruesome thought – bleeding to death – but the parallels to problem solving are strong.

Let’s Create a Charter!

You see often times lean and six sigma practitioners identify an issue and prepare to solve it.

They form a team. They create a charter or begin an A3. They get approval to work on the problem. The have a kick-off meeting with donuts and coffee. And, finally, they start to identify root causes so a countermeasure can be applied.

This is all well and good… but the problem is the patient (the process in this case) is lying on the operating table bleeding to death!

Stop the Bleeding!

So, before you worry about forming your team or getting approval or planning a meeting… the most important thing you can do is STOP THE BLEEDING.

Apply a temporary solution/band-aid. Who cares if the solution isn’t perfect or ideal. All we’re trying to do is keep the patient alive.

Of course, once the bleeding has been stopped we must seek a more permanent countermeasure to the problem… in other words don’t relax once the band-aid has been applied. After all, that’s how disease and infection sets in.

Do you agree?

Do you agree with this approach to problem solving? Should we keep the patient/process alive by applying a temporary solution/band-aid?

  1. John Santomer

    December 6, 2011 - 10:55 am

    Even if one was not aiming at being recognized for placing the bandage as it was within his capability to assist in this “first aid” remedy…isn’t the same person more knowleageable in the actual situations as his assessment (genchi genbutsu) will determine whether the first aid will lasts until a more permanent solution is still being “cooked up”? Shouldn’t this person be involved in forming the countermeasures?
    And when all the smoke has cleared up and the last champagne bottle has been emptied, where is our valiant EMT or EMS? Was he even invited to the celebration? Were it not for his band aid that stopped the bleeding, will the patient have survived his trauma?

    • Ron Pereira

      December 6, 2011 - 11:33 am

      I would hope the EMT is deeply involved in the problem solving… but, even if they aren’t they should definitely be invited to the after party! 😉

  2. EDM

    December 6, 2011 - 2:58 pm

    Nice euphemism, problem solving is a skill that I tend to sharpen on a daily basis in my line of work. There is always some issue that comes up that demands attention, and it cannot wait for a series of meetings to begin to ‘stop the bleeding’.

    And Ron, I agree.. I would desperately hope the EMT has at least a few rational problem solving thoughts running through his head!

    • Ron Pereira

      December 7, 2011 - 10:09 am

      Thanks for the comment, EDM.

  3. James Considine

    December 7, 2011 - 8:04 am

    Excellent point, one that I (sadly) never heard during my many hours of LSS training. It wasn’t until I was in RCA training that I learned about the concept of Containment. Now it’s my first step – put something in place, and work to improve it vs. waiting until the Improve stage of my DMAIC project – as an operational leader, there just isn’t time.

    • Ron Pereira

      December 7, 2011 - 10:08 am

      Hi James, I hadn’t learned this in my Six Sigma training either… glad we both came to learn about this important aspect of CI.

  4. Tim Swanson

    December 7, 2011 - 8:19 am

    There are 2 types of countermeasures – temporary and permanent. If you can do a 5 why and get the root cause right away, they why waste time with the temporary countermeasure (does the word Andon ring a bell?). However, if the situation requires immediate attention – serious bleeding – then a temporary countermeasure (the band-aid) is required while the permenant countermeasure is being developed and implemented. The key, as you nicely point out, is to not let the band-aid be the final solution or permanent countermeasure (as it all too often is). I do like the analogy and will use that on our gemba walk today if the situation presents itself!

    • Ron Pereira

      December 7, 2011 - 10:08 am

      Great points, Tim. Let us know how the gemba walk talk goes!

  5. Owen Berkeley-Hill

    December 7, 2011 - 12:58 pm

    As a result of collaborating with Dr Deming in the 80s Ford developed an improvement methodology called 8D which pre-dates both Lean and Six Sigma. The third step or “D” was to implement short-term corrective or containment actions. 4D, the next step, then suggested the defining and verifying of root causes.
    Many have argued that the strong emphasis (obsession perhaps?) on statistical analysis which characterises Six Sigma has inhibited Belts of various colours from thinking about containing the problem before the analysis of root causes. DMAIC seems to reinforce this gap. But if you work on a product which cost around $20K and is being produced at the rate of 60 an hour, containment is important as there is little time for group hugs with Minitab.
    The overwhelming interest in Lean and Six Sigma these days overshadows some of the really useful improvement methods that they seem to have replaced.

    • Ron Pereira

      December 7, 2011 - 1:01 pm

      Well said, Owen. I agree completely. Together, perhaps, we can change this!

    • Marty Yuzwa

      December 13, 2011 - 7:59 am


      I was thinking the exact same thing. In my opinion the D8 process was much better at solving Special Cause event problems while Six Sigma excels more at Common Cause issues. The Six Sigma training is woefully inadequate for handling Special Cause issues. However, in my experience in the service industry 90% of our problems come from a chaotic processes that are not in control. Going back to D8 and the basics and “stopping the bleeding” has been a strategy I have been using. . . It seems to be working. . .

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