I recently read a blog on GE Healthcare’s website.


Although the general idea of needing better ways to improve healthcare systems is valid, I cannot agree with the underlying interpretation of what Lean and Six Sigma are.

It seems to me many people view Lean and Six Sigma as

1. tools for solving specific problems
2. static
3. exclusive or territorial
4. methods that can be taught by experts

To me, Lean and Six Sigma are:

1. a philosophy of scientific problem solving
2. a mindset of relentless learning and self-improvement
3. continued adoption, integration and application of all existing concepts, tools, and practices
4. specific behaviors and skills that have to be developed throughout life

As defined above, Lean Six Sigmais dynamic. Period. Scientific thinking and PDCA cycle are fundamental to its continued learning and evolution. The right behaviors and thinking process cannot be taught. They have to be learned through life-long experiences. And Lean Six Sigma concepts, just as those we learned in our education, only create the initial framework for us to begin our learning process.

With the 4 points in mind, there is no concept of a “hybrid” methodology or boundaries to delineate different methodologies. There is no “not invented here” or “my tool is better than yours” kind of idea. Saying “Lean and Six Sigma do not work for some industries or organizations” is like saying “Scientific thinking does not apply in what we do.”

I always become very skeptical when someone tells me something “doesn’t work for you” or “is out of date” without understanding the root cause of the problem. Typically, they are preparing me for what they are going to sell me, “the Next New Thing.” Buyer be aware.

Misunderstanding of Lean Six Sigma can be a serious roadblock to its adoption and application. In my opinion, many of the problems raised in the above blog have nothing to do with the methodology itself, but rather the lack of understanding of what Lean Six Sigma truly is.

I contrasted my view of Lean Six Sigma to some people’s perception. So what does Lean Six Sigma really mean to you? What do you know about others, Lean Six Sigma professionals or not? How are you communicating its real meaning?

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