5th Grade Vision Problems and Six Sigma

Improvement Insights Blog

5th Grade Vision Problems and Six Sigma

I didn’t know I couldn’t see that well until 5th grade. I didn’t know I couldn’t see how businesses worked until I learned three key tools.

“Hi, I’m Jay Arthur, author of “Lean Six Sigma Demystified” and QI Macros [software].

“I grew up in Tucson, Arizona and went to Peter E. Howell elementary, for those of you who might have gone there. I remember in classrooms from first grade on, they sorted us in alphabetical order. Well, my first [letter] is A, so I was always right in the front row. That continued all the way through second grade, third grade, fourth grade…

“And then in fifth grade they said, “No, you need to randomize how you see everybody,” so I ended up in the back of the classroom. The teacher noticed me leaning forward and squinting at the board and she sent me to the nurse’s office. They gave me a little vision test and they said, “Yeah, you can’t see, kid,” so I had to go get my eyes examined and get some glasses.

“I remember when we picked up those glasses and when I put those glasses on it was a very different experience. In Tucson, it’s surrounded by mountains. The Santa Catalinas and everything are very beautiful, but I could never actually see them. Well, when I put these on… oh my gosh! The clarity, the crispness, the sharpness of everything just exploded! I mean, it was just amazing!

“I remember having the same experience when I used control charts and Pareto charts and histograms and it made something invisible visible; it made it a way that I could explain to other people quickly. It’s not that hard, all control charts look the same, right? Pareto charts are Pareto charts, Histograms are histograms. You learn those three tools and you’re pretty much set. I mean, there’s other tools, yes, but those three will cover most of the bases we need to cover in Lean and Six Sigma.

“So that’s my Improvement Insight for this week: Start using control charts, Pareto charts, histograms. If you’re not doing it, you should learn. Spend a little time. Use the QI Macros, start drawing those charts, and you’ll be surprised what insights they give you: how they make the invisible visible. Instead of everything being a blur, all of a sudden, they’ll come into sharp focus.

“So let’s go out and improve something this week.”