Lean Six Sigma the Easy Way

I recently heard a woman tell a story about starting a relationship with a man who loved "free climbing." He liked to scale cliffs, mountain sides, whatever, without any safety lines of any kind. Frankly, he scared her. 

On one of their early dates, he took her to some dunes in California and they walked up to the top and had a picnic dinner. 

Six months later, she found herself on top of an 800-foot pinnacle in Utah.

Baby Steps 

In 1990, when I started my NLP training (www.nlpco.com), we started with simple exercises. At the end of the training they brought people in off the streets. The young woman they assigned me said: "I used to be a heroin addict. Then I was on methadone until they diagnosed me as HIV positive. Then, I went back on heroin for awhile. Later, I was retested and found to be HIV negative." 

When I started my training, this would have freaked me out. At the end of the training, it was no different from free climbing an 800 foot pinnacle. I just said: "And what do you want?" And guided her through some NLP transformations about early traumas.


In Lean Six Sigma, we send belts to one to four weeks of training about how to free climb the cliffs of quality improvement, but we don't really walk them up a dune for a picnic dinner. 

Most Lean Six Sigma training throws participants into the deep end and says "swim!" Too few of these trainees can actually solve real business problems.

Growing Money Belts

All of my training seeks to walk people up a dune and let them solve a problem using the improvement methods and tools. My methodology: Focus-Improve-Sustain-Honor. Start with the essential methods and tools of quality and let them experience success. Then let them add tools and methods as needed. 

While most Green Belt and Black Belt training is designed to teach people how to free climb cliffs, I fear that it doesn't build the stepping stones to success that enable people to embrace these methods for life. 

Just-In-Time Training: I prefer just-in-time training: teaching people what they need to know to solve a real problem in their work space. Don't teach them everything they might ever need to know (I call this "just in case" belt training). 

Only teach them what they need to know to walk up this dune. 

Next time, take them up a taller dune or hill. 

Then, a steeper one with more technical challenges. 

In six months, they'll be climbing sheer cliff faces. 

Here's My Point 

You can read every book ever written about golf or free climbing or whatever; you can know everything there is to know about golf (or any other sport for that matter), but until you try to hit a golf ball, climb a dune or whatever, none of it will make any sense. 

The same is true of quality. Learn the basic methods and tools of quality. Apply them. Learn how to succeed. Then add more tools and methods until you become a formidable improvement specialist. In a matter of months, you'll have climbed the pinnacles of quality without breaking a sweat.

Rights to reprint this article in company periodicals is freely given with the inclusion of the following tag line: "© 2008 Jay Arthur, the KnowWare® Man, (888) 468-1537, support@qimacros.com."

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