The Revolution Will Not Be Televised

“Transformation” – One of the most overused words of the last decade…and at the same time, one of the most underreported phenomenon happening in the world today.

Literally, much of the main stream media, academia and “so called experts” are missing the most important story of the day. The break-neck speed of global transformation driven by technology and how we relate to technology is fueling exponential societal change at warp speeds! Global transformation can help explain everything from the attacks of 9-11, to the Great Recession of 2008-9, to today’s hyper-competition in the global market place.

Sadly, one of the key communities missing this under-the-radar tsunami is the Lean Six Sigma/Process Improvement community. Most of us were trained to use approaches, methodologies and bundled process improvement tools geared for realities that are decades out of date. Many of the Lean Six Sigma tools were designed and developed to address Twentieth Century manufacturing processes and challenges. They were built to address reduction of cycle time, elimination of waste, and improvement of product quality when product development cycles were measured in years. In many of today’s competitive industries, product development cycle time is measured in months or even weeks. Additionally, companies’ relative market position and posture were much more static then and the impact of competition felt over longer time horizons. However, today most companies constantly feel the pressure of the “barbarians at that the gate”. There are companies that were market innovators and leaders a decade ago that are no longer in business. Things are that dynamic! Pressure and competition is that fierce. Given that, many organizational senior leaders want to embrace Lean Six Sigma projects and transformation journeys, but feel frustrated with its lack of speed, responsiveness and flexibility. To this I say, a revolution is needed within the Lean Six Sigma community. This revolution must reexamine the speed and flexibility in which we Lean Six Sigma approaches. It requires greater proficiency and innovation from Lean Six Sigma practitioners to meet the demands and expectations that our senior leaders have. Three to six months to accomplish a six sigma project and then present a proposal to senior leadership on a way forward is simply not satisfactory in today’s hyper-competitive, fast-moving environment. Despite the frustration some senior leaders feel, the good news for Lean Six Sigma practitioners is that at no other time in history have our knowledge, skills and talents been needed. During this era of rapid transformation, every organization needs competent, credible change agents to drive organizational reinvention and success.  But to deliver on this need in this era, we need a revolution within our community. Are you ready for a revolution?

Comments 2

  1. Stephen C. Crate

    Great thoughts Lt Col Jackson. As new leadership arrives to this awarness we must continue to cooperate with all workers, management and labor, to make this an effective movement. Some great general change training and other information can be found at ManageTrainLearn and Changing Minds

  2. Fang Zhou

    I agree with the need to evolve this community to meet the challenges of this ever changing world.

    As I commented in my early blog ( Six Sigma: misunderstood ): many business leaders and people in this community think that Lean Six Sigma is just tools to get quick results. They completely missed the continuous improvement philosophy of LSS.

    It’s the people (including business leaders and frontline employees), not the tools, that solve the problems. Leaders who want to improve their businesses with LSS should focus on changing people’s mind from learning tools to scientific problem solving. Businesses wishing to use LSS tools to get quick results will not get the real (or any) benefit. Changing people is NEVER easy or quick. Understand this or you will be disappointed.

    Tools and methodologies can go out of date, just like technologies. We cannot predict the future and new challenges it will bring. It’s more productive to develop people and empower them than to develop tools to solve problems.

    Applying scientific problem solving here: Before we rush to apply tools developed in the past or to develop new tools, let’s try to understand the root causes of today’s problem. Why do businesses fail to meet today’s challenges? Leadership, technology, processes, people, … or just failure to continue to learn and think effectively?

Leave a Reply