Be A Process Doctor

Improvement Insights Blog

Be A Process Doctor

Medical doctors (M.D.) help people heal. In Lean Six Sigma, we help companies heal. Be a Process Doctor(P.D.).

“Medical doctors diagnose and then treat patients. I think of myself as a Process Doctor: a P.D.; not an M.D., a P.D. I work with companies and I try and figure out why their systems are not working the way they ought to and remove blockages to speed things up. You know, get the electrical systems working better. It’s the same idea. So I think you and I are all Process Doctors.

“Now, I think the metaphor about this is great because we’re in the helping profession and we help things get better and stay better; stay healthy, just like a medical doctor. Same sort of idea, it’s just we’re doing it with companies and processes, not people and illnesses.

“Now I want to point out to you, long ago I studied metaphors and I found metaphors are very powerful. If you think about what’s been going on in Six Sigma we talk about Black Belts. Well, guess what? That comes loaded with other stuff, all right? So how do you get a Black Belt? Well, normally you go to a dojo and you’re taught by a sensei and you end up sparring with other belts of different colors, but you do it all inside of the dojo. Is there any healing that goes on in there? No, it’s sparring; it’s trying to develop your skill.

“I think sometimes we see a lot of unnecessary combat in Lean Six Sigma because we’re living out that metaphor: we’re fighting about “What chart should you choose?” and “How should you calculate that?” “Why’d you use that test?” Oh my gosh! Stop! We’re trying to heal.

“Just because you know all kinds of stuff doesn’t mean you can heal things. Can you help people get better, faster, cheaper? Can you simplify, optimize, and streamline things? Yes or no, right? That’s a Process Doctor.

“I think for a very long time we’ve had this “belting” thing in our brain and it talks about dojos, but people go to the dojo and then they just spar with each other and go back out into real life and guess what? They don’t do a lot [with what they’ve learned] unless they’re attacked on a street and they’re Chuck Norris, all right?

“I want you to think about that: maybe our metaphor has been impeding our progress. Let’s be a Process Doctor, right? I think this is a good thing, and we have lots of tools to be a Process Doctor: control charts, Pareto charts, histograms, all of which you can draw on QI Macros and do them very quickly and easily. I think this is important, and so that’s why I’m sharing it with you, because we want people to go out and heal the planet and heal companies.

“Let’s shoot for hassle-free healthcare; hassle-free America. That’s my Improvement Insight for this week. Be a Process Doctor. Go out and improve something this week.”