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Lean Six Sigma Executive

Notes from the deployment frontline
Why does this stuff work?

For those of you who don’t know me, I work in the land of Laverne and Shirley for a fine 100 year old company that is trying to change without losing what makes people want to spend a career here. I am five months into the adventure and having more fun than I ever did in my ten plus years of consulting for many of the movers and shakers in the Six Sigma world. I intend to share with you a thread of thoughts on what the frontline of change looks like.

Recently I have been in awe of rediscovering something I first learned in 1984. It is why this stuff really works. I have been working with two people who I have just recently met, Ernesto and Mike. Let me tell you a bit about each and come back to why this works.

Ernesto is a Mexican national, educated at Tecnológico de Monterrey, Monterrey Tech to us gringos. He has a BS and MS in Engineering from there. He has a PhD from a US college obtained on a Fulbright scholarship. Smart guy. Also has a great value system and was taught it by a guy who sounds like my father. He is dedicated to doing the same with his children. He is helping me create a model so that my company can better understand and support something they honestly don’t understand right now. When painting the picture for him of what I wanted he honestly has become excited by it and is bringing thought to the table that would not have been there for someone who is just going through the motions. He is one of the finest humans and one of the best Master Black Belts I have ever met.

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Mike is an engineer from Ohio. I just found out he is leaving the company next week. It saddens me, but I also know that he is leaving for the right reason; he has found an opportunity that truly excites him. He will be improving what is already one of the finest health care systems in the world. Mike brings honesty and passion with him to the job. It is fun to work with him because he truly gets excited when he learns new things about a system he has been embedded in for years. He is a fine human and will be the best Black Belt in healthcare in the Americas.

Why am I having fun? Simple. Learning and watching people learn is among the best of the human experience.

Why does this stuff work? There are all sorts of theories out there about change management and I think most are wrong. There is a scene from the movie The Breakfast Club that I think sums up why people change better than anything else I have ever seen. The scene is between Claire (Molly Ringwald) and Allison (Ally Sheedy). Claire and Allison are on opposite ends of the high school social spectrum yet this scene finds Claire being kind to Allison.

Allison – “Why are you being nice to me?”
Claire – “Because you are letting me.”

Relationship to what we do? Change happens when the people who built and run a successful enterprise actually let their guard down and let people like Ernesto and Mike help them.

I train, help, challenge, cajole and many other things to get people ready to let their guard down on the one side and to accept the invitation on the other.

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I live for the moments where these two points in time converge. It is the fulfillment of the human experience for me.

It is beautiful.

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Comments 1

  1. Tom Jacobs

    Gary–

    I appreciate your thoughts in this post. I am a trainer at Honeywell and there isn’t an experience in life that I love more than seeing green and black belts think about something and finally "see the light." There’s something about recognizing that moment that I can’t give up to move on to a new position, as you have obviously done so you can have more impact in your organization.

    I always tell people that a "learning organization" focuses on: challenging employees to be better people through thought. I believe it’s what separates the best from mediocre organizations. If everyone hands you the answers, you never learn to fish (i.e. give a man a fish and he’ll eat well for the day, teach a man to fish and he’ll eat well for life"). Six Sigma helps companies fish and employees grow.

    Tom

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