Philosophy has been my passion since I completed an undergraduate degree in the subject 15 years ago. Thankfully I had other skills so I was able to avoid the “do you want to super-size that value meal” world many humanities majors nervously joke about as graduation approaches, but I didn’t have much of a plan beyond just having a good job. After a few years, I finally realized the value of my chosen course of study when I stumbled into my other passion, Lean/Six Sigma. In a way it was the second coming of the first passion only this time it came packaged for practical application.

Over the years I’ve endured the harassment one might expect from co-workers when one knows a dead language (Latin) and has a ton of knowledge about a bunch of dead smart people. No worries, I probably had most of it coming. The fact however that I have this rather eclectic feature in my own background has made me keenly aware of something I think most business leaders overlook when evaluating the benefits of Lean/Six Sigma.The oversight I’m speaking of specificallyis in regard to the diversity of backgrounds from which people come into the profession and the long term value it can generate for the business. Statisticians and engineers abound but I’ve also met people from all imaginable walks of life including nurses, aircraft mechanics, chefs, you name it. Project team diversity provides tremendous learning opportunities for team members and often produces innovative results. The beauty of Lean/Six Sigma is that it provides a common set of tools, a framework, to harness the intellectual horsepower of these diverse individual contributors and it gives an organization the focus and direction needed for said individuals to succeed as a team. The managerial bench strength a company can develop based on Lean/Six Sigma can pay long term dividends which, if measurable, would make even the most conservative CFO moonwalk in the board meeting.

What’s your story? Do you have an example of a Lean/Six Sigma team with an interesting or unusual mix of personalities and backgrounds? I’d love to hear from you.

cum grano salis,
W. Michael McBride

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