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James Considine

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10 Ways To Blow Your Next Lean Event

A well-run event can be cathartic, exciting, and extremely effective. A poorly run one wastes a lot of people’s time, money, and at worst, vaporizes everyone’s motivation to support any future quality activities. In either case, you can be sure that people will spread the word about how it went.   In no particular order,…


Lean Ceiling Paint

As we prepare for the arrival of our second child, we’ve decided to repaint the nursery. If you’ve ever tried painting a ceiling before, you know how easy it is to miss spots. Rather than go with normal ceiling paint, we opted for a special paint that goes on pink, and dries white. Pros call…

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I Am Your Customer

This was handed out at an all-hands today – not my words, and a great reminder of why we do what we do. I am your customer. Satisfy my wants, add personal attention and a friendly touch, and I will become a walking advertisement for your products and services. Ignore my wants, show carelessness, inattention…

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Why We Should Still Admire Toyota

We’ve all sent the news of Toyota’s recall problems, including the latest decision to pull the andon as it were and halt production until the defect is sorted out. Suddenly the company, and its venerable Toyota Production System do not appear to be as infallible as it has in the past. Indeed, some analysts are…


Is 5 Times Enough to Ask “Why?”

The 5 Whys approach to root cause analysis is by no means new, nor does it originate in Six Sigma. Yet it is often used in the Analyze phase (of DMAIC [Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, Control]), especially when significant data on the Xs is not available. Most of us have been there – we gather the…


This Should Come As No Surprise

AIG Said to Offer $1 Billion in Retention Payments to Employees As it turns out, this how AIG is choosing to spend part of the $150 Billion it received from the US Government, with much of it going to the very business units that caused AIG to falter in the first place. While the company…

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Don’t Look Now – Here Comes the Wave

While scanning news for lean and six sigma related articles this morning, I came across this gem: “Six Sigma Certification Booms as Employment Busts” – it was actually a press release posing as news over on That’s fine – I recall from my days in media relations that many news outlets craved pre-written content,…


What You Measure is What You Get?

“Perhaps what you measure is what you get. More likely, what you measure is all you’ll get. What you don’t (or can’t) measure is lost” – H. Thomas Johnson Those of you who are Deming fans may liken this quote to Deming’s admonition that “the most important figures that one needs for management are unknown…

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Systems Thinking and Scope Creep

Project scopeissuesare probably one of the top failure modes for LSS projects. If the scope is too narrow, leadership doesn’t view the effort as important and doesn’t support it. Too broad, and the improvements are either never implemented, or aren’t sustained due to poor implementation and control.   Often out of necessity, projects are chartered…


The iPod Did Not Come From a Focus Group

“Innovation comes from the producer – not from the customer.” -W Edwards Deming   In the course of teaching Kano Analysis to green belts and others, I frequently talk about the difficulty in uncovering delighters or excitement needs, as the customer often cannot articulate these at an actionable level. Or in other words, “The iPod…


To Transform, or Not to Transform – That is The Question

In the transactional environment, we frequently run projects around reducing cycle times. More often than not, cycle time distributions are not normal, owing to the fact that there is a hard stop at 0 – negative cycle times to complete transactions rarely seen. Despite the fact that most statistical analysis is built on the assumption…

And Someone Didn’t Care Enough to Be Right

I opened this morning’s USA Today while on the road, and was struck by this story. It details how a simple clerial error on the part of a pharmacy technician resulted in wrong dosage instructions – “As Needed” rather than “4 pills, 2 times per day” – and a fatal overdose for a Florida man….

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Execution: The Missing E

Effectiveness = Quality * Acceptance * Execution   I originally learned this equation during Green Belt training as Effectiveness (of Solution) = Quality * Acceptance, and it immediately resonated with me. In order to produce the most effective solution to a given problem, the solution had to be of high quality, and it had to…

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Customer Satisfaction: Is it overrated?

Think about this: when was the last time you told someone about an experience that met your expectations. Perhaps it was an adequate dinner while on the road, or a satisfactory hotel stay. Now think about the last time your expectations either weren’t met at all, or were wildly exceeded. How many people did you…


To MSA or Not to MSA

Many organizations are awash in data, generating enormous and plentiful reports with a variety of statistics. Others have little data to work with, often going by gut feel and experience when decisions are to be made. Most are somewhere in between. In the transactional world, many process measurement systems are manual, comprised of spreadsheets, Access…