While flipping around the channels a while ago, I happened to catch an episode of “House.” This show, for thoseunfamiliar with it, features aphysician in a hospital setting. He’s faced withpatients who have complex and puzzling disease conditions that he must diagnosis in order to save their lives. I was intrigued, at first.

But after watching afew episodes, I found the plot of each episode to be similar. House is confronted with a patient who has puzzling symptoms. He guesses one diagnosis, and makes his residents do all kinds of diagnostic tests. Sometimes he treats on the basis of his presumptive diagnosis, and this can lead to complications. Then, when the first guess doesn’t prove correct, he makes another guess and has his residents do lots more diagnostic testing, sometimes invasive. Again, presumptive treatment may result in adverse effects. When the puzzle still isn’t solved, he tries a third time and (you guessed it) after further diagnostic tests, he hits on the correct solution and now can give the patient the treatment they’ve needed all along.

This may make for compelling medical drama, but I hope my own physician has a better diagnostic track record than House seems to have.

Upon reflection, I realized that itreminded me about how we improved our business processes before we started to use Lean and Six Sigma. Often, the leader would guess at what was wrong witha process, come up with a solution, write the memo, and then be surprised when the expected improvement didn’t appear. Sometimes, the process became even less effective. Then, it was “back to the drawing board” and another solution from the mind of the leader would get published as a memo. And so on.

I am very happy to have learned a moreeffective method for facilitating change in the business (in my case, healthcare) environment. With leadership commitment, engagement of the front-line workers and stakeholders, setting targets according to the customer’s CTQs, analyzing the process in order to create solutions, and using statistical process control to sustain the gains, we can produce positive change that gets the organization closer to where it needs to be to remain competitive.

Will anybody ever pitch a drama to the networks that uses a Lean / Six Sigma Black Belt as its protagonist? But then, it’s not very dramatic to show someone following a proven methodology to create streamlined, effective processes, is it???

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