My Husband the Black Belt

When I first went to Six Sigma training, I was very enthusiastic about it and shared everything I learned over the dinner table with my family. I talked about my projects and the tools, my successes and failures. I always thought they listened politely and then forgot about it. You know, Mom talking about work AGAIN, yada-yada-blah-blah-blah.

Then one day recently my husband came home and asked me to help him transfersome process maps into an electronic version. With a team from his workplace, he had facilitated a current state and future state map, and then asked the team to come up with goals for the project. They included:

– Identify opportunities for flow

– Eliminate duplicate steps

– Standardize process

– Meet stakeholder requirements

– Ensure that accreditation requirements are met

– Develop metrics for monitoring the process long-term

Now, he had talked about doing an improvement project at work for this particular process, but I hadn’t quizzed him on the details. So I was surprised and pleased that his project incorporated so many elements of the Lean and Six Sigma methods.

“Wow, honey, that’s great!” I said. “You really learned a lot from hearing me talk about my job at the dinner table!”

“Well, not really,” he replied, “it’s just common sense!”

Now, while his answer was not particularly tactful, I did like it for one reason. It made me reflect thatit would be great to livein a world where utilizing process improvement tools and concepts is “just common sense!” – instead of the resistance-laden, data-poor, time-crunched activity that it sometimes is.

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I’ll think I’ll spend a few moments inthat imaginary world, before returning to the next task on my to-do list!

Comments 4

  1. Michael Marx

    “Common sense is only common to those that have it.” – (I heard a friend say this once, and it stuck.)

    My father-in-law and my wife both have this Lean common sense and it is evident in all they do from planning, organizing and executing any project, at home at work or at play.

    Here I am the Six Sigma Black Belt in the home, but it’s my wife that get’s things done quicker and without re-work because she lives and breathes Lean without even knowing it.

    The rest of us need the training, the acronyms and jargon just to keep up with the natural-born lean. I hope my kids inherit the trait.

  2. michael cardus

    I would argue that your husband picked up your 6S language subliminally. He may not have realized it your constant blabbing about how great 6S is leaked into his brain to lessen deviations.

    I often find myself constantly asking my fiancee questions abut her work in a 6S project scope frame. She just gives me that look and the, “Will you just listen.”

    Once you find a process that makes sense a part of our brain picks up on that and interprets the meaning to be our own.

    This is leadership – like Lao Tzu said; “True Leaders are hardly known to their follower”

  3. Purushothama

    Hi Sue Kozlowski,

    I feel your husband told correctly that is "just common sense!". Correct It’s a power of Six Sigma, it’s a common sense that anyone unknowingly take the inputs from Six Sigma, Just an effective speech like you delivered, at the dinner table is more than enough to grab him or put him in to Six Sigma & it’s methodology, so sure now your husband is using Six Sigma unknowingly (With a common sense) that’s the way of Six Sigma, Now give a small questioner to your husband to check is he know / don’t know six sigma, sure (unknowingly With a common sense) he will exhibit his strength in six sigma.


    Email: [email protected]

  4. Sue Kozlowski

    Thanks to all for your comments. It is amazing to me that the "process of osmosis" (knowledge diffusion without formal teaching or learning activities) really does happen, on occasion. Now, if only I could get executive leadership to my dinner table every night! (Or, maybe that’s not such a good idea after all!)

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