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No use for Six Sigma in Hospitals?

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  • #52247

    Hans Butcher
    Participant

    Fellow Six Sigma Professionals –
    I’m interested in your opinions regarding this recent quote in Industry Week’s online magazine.  It comes from George Haley, a business professor at the University of New Haven and director of the Center for International Industry Competitiveness.  “To an extent, Six Sigma is kind of a religion.”… “Six Sigma should stay out of hospitals and stay out of any business where you have human-to-human interaction.”
    Discussion?

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    #183652

    Taylor
    Participant

    Mr Haley is simply uneducated in the world of Six Sigma.
    Just my Opinion
     

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    #183653

    BritW
    Participant

    A completely stupid statement.  First, is there any business that doesn’t have human to human interaction?  Second, what better business to improve than one where the outcomes could mean life, death, or have an impact on the quality of life?  The over-reaching basis behind quality improvment (Six Sigma or otherwise) is to reduce variation.  Where better to reduce variation than in the systems where variation exists the most – human to human interfaces?
    How can this person be taken seriously in the world of ‘Industry Competitiveness?”
    You can’t fix stupid, I guess……
     

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    #183654

    Tim Kelley
    Member

    After reading the article, my greater complaint would be with IW and the author of the article, which is essentially pointless.  I see no connection between the various portions of this piece, and after looking at Mr. Haley’s on-line bio, I’m not sure why he would be quoted as an authority.  Very odd.  Shoddy content. 

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    #183657

    Ron
    Member

    This is sort of preaching to the choir but….. The first thing I noticed is that the author works at a university (this is not a recommendation for a person to comment about six sigma methodology). The second thing I notice is that his statement regarding people to people processes restates my first point..people working in education need to get out more…this gentlemen should actually go to work for a living and see who makes things in this country..surprise it is people speaking to people.
    I have several close frineds who consult in the medical world and have shared some great success stories with me about  things that have been accomplished in implmenting lean and six sigma methodologies in hospitals and laboratories.
    I have to be very concerned about “Industry Week” why they would publish an article like this. My guess is to stir controversy as we see in the postings here.

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    #183665

    Mike Carnell
    Participant

    Tim,
    Nice post.
    If you reember the USA Today piece in 1995 that was done on Six Sigma. It had a comment from Larry Bossidy endorsing the program and then had his comment refuted by a guy that I think was a technician in Aerospace. What makes it to print in a lot of these publications is purely selling papers/magazines etc.
    Just my opinion.

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    #183690

    BritW
    Participant

    I dropped Mr. Minter – Editor in Cheif, Industry Week the following email:

    I can’t believe you printed that rubbish from George Haley:

    “To an extent, Six Sigma is kind of a religion,” notes George Haley, a business professor at the University of New Haven and director of the Center for International Industry Competitiveness. “When it focuses on the manufacturing process, it is very good. If you want to improve efficiency, cut down on failure rate and errors, that is Six Sigma’s strength.” ….
    Haley also criticizes the application of Six Sigma to services such as health care. For example, a nurse may be given a specific amount of time to perform a patient service. But Haley notes that patients differ and that nurses may need to perform a different service than initially expected. “If the nurse doesn’t have time to figure out what they need, patients can get a lot of wrong treatment,” he warns. “Six Sigma should stay out of hospitals and stay out of any business where you have human-to-human interaction. Humans just aren’t programmable; they aren’t machines.”

    This person’s 1-sentence blurb about a nursing interaction shows his inadequate knowledge of healthcare.  His example is an unrealistic one, that if employed in a hospital, would cause an uproar from accreditation bodies and board of directors.  In addition, his example is more a result of lean than it would be of six sigma – if it were feasible.  This guy is either ignorant of the healthcare and lean six sigma world, or has a personal agenda. Either way, including him in your artice, as editor-in-chief, is appalling.  Six Sigma has been established in healthcare as a viable and profitable process improvement methodology.  Our organization has found over $5M in revenue from projects in a 403 bed community hospital in under 4 years.  More importantly, processes such as lab and radiology tests, catheterization procedures, patient flow, specimen identification and the prevetion of patient falls are all benefitting from Six Sigma.

     Additionally, every business has some form of human to human interaction.  To say that Six Sigma shouldn’t apply to any business other than manufacturing, is again, rubbish.  Financial, hospitality, IT, government, and many other industry types have benefitted from the methodology.

     Before publishing rubbish like this, please attempt to get an opposing viewpoint when some crackpot offers up baseless opinions such as this.
    His response to my email:
    I believe you have provided that opposing viewpoint, and we’ll share it with our readers in our Letters department. Thanks for sharing your insights.
     Steve Minter

    Editor-in-Chief, IndustryWeek
    Group Content Director, Manufacturing & Supply Chain Group
    Penton Media Inc.
    1300 E. 9th Street, Cleveland, OH 44114
    http://www.industryweek.com

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    #183694

    Taylor
    Participant

    Nicely put Brit,

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    #183695

    Robert S
    Member

    Thanks Brit for taking the time to defend our industry…and to do it so well.

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    #183741

    MBBinWI
    Participant

    Brit:  Here, here!  Thanks for your eloquent refutation of this blowhard.

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    #183745

    w. g. miller
    Member

    Now that you have had your fun dissing George Haley, you might want to explore why he thinks the way he does.  Could he be talking to people who have had to work under poorly executed Six Sigma programs?  Sadly, such failed programs exist – I was in a company with one, and it left such a bad impression that only years later am I willing to say Six Sigma principles can be gotten to work if the program is kept under careful control.  I saw what happens when a Six Sigma program is allowed to get out of control, and folks, it ain’t pretty.
    W. G. Miller
     

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    #183746

    Robert S
    Member

    You are certainly correct concerning poor deployments WG, however that was not the basis for Haley dissing SS…he had an entirely different premise. That’s why he was dissed here. And he and others will continue to be dissed here when they improperly discredit the benefits of using data analysis and data based decision making.

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    #183792

    BritW
    Participant

    Agree. However, if yo ulook at the literature (and from experience) into why SS fails it is the same list almost verbatim as why any other teaming environment fails. If the learned professor was such an expert, he would have known that.  So, I don’t believe he was the victim of a failed SS deployment – just someone trying to push another agenda and get his name in print.

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    #183800

    Sloan
    Participant

    W.G.
    You make a good point. It is somewhat analogous to a person saying, “I do not like organized religion, but I believe in the basic principles of Christianity (or Islam, or Buddhism, etc).”
    A person can have a really bad experience with a poorly deployed and administered six sigma program, but that does not change the fact that the basic tools of six sigma and lean actually work.
    Uh-oh, now I really have turned six sigma into a religion! I guess we’ll all have to recite the prayer now:
    “Our project that art in Define, Green Belt be thy name…”
     
     

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