Would a lead-time reduction project for an order fulfillment process be considered a Six Sigma project or a lean project?


This is much like asking if you have ever been caught in a lie.  No matter how you answer, the resulting conclusion will certainly not enhance your reputation – but will most assuredly harm it (perhaps even more so than currently exists).  If you were to contend that your project should be garbed in the dress of a Lean puritan, the advocates of Six Sigma will noticeably sneer, boo, and hiss.  Of course, the inverse of this would also be true. 

Even if you take the middle ground, considerable flak is inevitable.  But then again, you know you’re over the target when you hear the sound of flak. Yes, I have an opinion.  However, I currently choose to avoid the flak (and perhaps strategically so).

Therefore, I must call upon the smoke and mirrors of a skilled wordsmith to wiggle my way out of this lose-lose corner.  In short, I will contend there is insufficient information and data from which to render a decision about your question (at least for the time being).  Notice how this expert cleverly uses the intellectual base of Six Sigma  (data driven management principles) to craft-fully sidestep your question.

Perhaps you should pose your question on iSixSigma’s general discussion forum.  I am most confident you will get an array of opinions.  It is even possible that you might get a “battle of words” going.  Speaking of which – if you put 9 statisticians in a room and ask for an opinion, it is probabilistically certain you will get at least 14 responses.  All joking aside, you should post this question and see how much flak can be put in the air, so to speak.  Not only will this get you some opinions, it will also provide a gauge for judging the current “knowledge altitude,” in a manner of speaking.

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With these clumsy thoughts in mind, I leave you with the following idea: “Equations are more important to me, because politics is for the present, but an equation is something for eternity” — Albert Einstein (1879-1955).  You know, this quote really does not have much to do with your question.  Most likely, its just another one of my ominous distractions. 

But then again, I am reminded of what Henry Kissinger once said: “University politics are vicious precisely because the stakes are so small.”  If one didn’t know any better, he could very well be talking about the previously mentioned discussion forum – seems there are a lot of “six sigma professors” on that particular channel. 

This is especially true of the many so-called experts (existing only in virtual space) that profess to have a deep and rich understanding of TQM, Six Sigma, Lean, Value Engineering, and a host of other improvement initiatives.  They are so knowledgeable, only their code names are used.  Perhaps this is because they don’t want to be swamped with proposals for consulting work.  A great cowboy once told me: “The confidence of ignorance will always overcome the indecision of knowledge.”

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