Lean Blog by Jay Arthur

Improvement Insights Blog

Latest "Lean" Posts

Six Sigma Dogma

When I started in quality improvement, everyone preached Total Quality Management (TQM). Before that it was quality circles. I’d like you to consider that the gospel of Six Sigma is holding back progress. Here’s why:



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

“The other day I was [presenting] a webinar for one of the ASQ sections; I’ve been doing Agile Lean Six Sigma webinars for the Agile sections that want something to do during this pandemic. One of the guys said, “Well, you’re sort of telling me that that we don’t need Green Belts and Black Belts to do a project.

Posted by Jay Arthur in Agile Lean Six Sigma, Improvement Insights, Lean, Six Sigma.

Lean Vaccine Development

Vaccine development companies aren’t taking shortcuts; they are using Lean to accelerate delivery of a safe effective vaccine. Here’s how:



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

“There’s been a lot of anxiety about vaccine development, like, “Oh, they’re short-cutting.” Uh, no. No, okay.

“If you know anything about Lean, you know that the original process was they did phase one trials. Then they evaluated the phase one trial and then they set up a phase two trial. So the phase two trial [is going] and and then they would evaluate all of that and then they would say, “Well, was that okay?”

Posted by Jay Arthur in Healthcare, Improvement Insights, Lean.

Embrace the Automatic Transmission

I learned to drive on a stick shift. Then automatic transmissions came along. What have you learned the hard way that has been simplified and automated? How much time and suffering could you save by embracing the automatic transmissions available in Quality Improvement?



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

“Now way back in the 60s when I was learning to drive (yes, I’m that old) they had the student [car], but it had a “three on the column” manual shift – an old Chevy Caprice or something like that.

Posted by Jay Arthur in Improvement Insights, Lean.

Accelerating Software Quality Using the 4-50 Rule

Leaders, managers and programmers sometimes get frustrated with software systems and try to rewrite them. This usually fails. It is possible to use Six Sigma and the 4-50 rule to find and fix the few code modules that have the most bugs and require the most enhancements. This delivers software quality without the high cost and risk. Here’s how:



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

“Today I want to talk to you about software. Now, some of you may work in software, some of you may use software… (If you have a phone, you’re using software) There’s lots of software around, and sometimes there’s bugs and stuff like that, and sometimes we’re enhancing things.

Posted by Jay Arthur in Improvement Insights, Lean, QI Macros, Six Sigma.

Cut The Cockleburs for Hassle-Free Living

Six Sigma isn’t just for business. You can use it to make your life more hassle-free. Here’s how:  Become the CIO of Your Life. 



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

“I used to walk my dog Coco on the High Line Canal that runs for about 73 miles throughout Denver. I’d take her for a walk and she’d go running around, but she’d pick up these cockleburs. A cocklebur plant stands about waist-high, has big broad leaves and it produces these little spiny things about the size of the top of my thumb that has little hooky things all around it.

Posted by Jay Arthur in Improvement Insights, Lean.

Why Are People Using Line and Bar Charts, not Control Charts?

If you look at improvement project posters at quality conferences around the country, you’ll find that almost everyone is using Excel line and bar charts. Even after decades of Six Sigma training and association membership. What’s the hold up? Here’s my take:

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

“Every year I look at lots of improvement posters and I keep wondering, “Why isn’t anyone using the tools of Quality?” Control charts, Pareto charts, histograms… Most of them are just using plain old Excel line and bar charts. Now it might be because they don’t know about the power and beauty and how easy it can be now to do Control charts, Pareto charts and fishbones.

Posted by Jay Arthur in Improvement Insights, Lean, Six Sigma.

The Cost of Lean Six Sigma Training

Traditional Lean Six Sigma Training takes weeks when it’s possible to train people and get results in one day. Here’s why it costs so much to train people using last century strategies:

“I want to talk to you about the economics of a Six Sigma class.  All right, so as much as I hate pie charts, I’m going to use one to demonstrate this.  Let’s say you have a classroom and let’s say you have 20 odd people or something go in there.  Now, I can tell you in advance every class is filled with three types of people:  Prisoners, Vacationers and Learners. 

Posted by Jay Arthur in Agile Lean Six Sigma, Improvement Insights, Lean, QI Macros, Six Sigma.

Are You Skipping Stones or Diving Beneath the Surface of Your Business?

Are you skipping Six Sigma stones across the surface of your business or are you finding people who take to it like a duck to water. People who can dive beneath the surface to find the invisible low-hanging fruit?

“Have you ever skipped a rock across a lake? Maybe the first time you threw it out there it just went “sploosh.” Then you figured out that flatter rocks skip better, so you started throwing them out and they’d go “skip-skip-sploosh,” or maybe get three or four or five “skip-skips” and “sploosh.”

“Then a duck came flying in, put out its landing gear and just kind of eased into the water.

Posted by Jay Arthur in Agile Lean Six Sigma, Improvement Insights, Lean, QI Macros, Six Sigma.

FOLB – Fear of Looking Bad

Humans, by nature, have a fear of looking bad (FOLB). And we have a fear of looking stupid (FOLS). These are slowing COVID-19 response and quality improvement. Here’s why:

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

“You’ve all probably all heard some of these acronyms that are running around like FOMO: Fear Of Missing Out. Well, I wanted to introduce you to a couple more that I’d like you to consider. FOLB: Fear Of Looking Bad.

“Now when I’ve gone out to work with companies in consulting roles, some of these managers think, “I’m supposed to be in charge of fixing everything.

Posted by Jay Arthur in Healthcare, Improvement Insights, Lean, Manufacturing, Six Sigma.

Lean Response to COVID-19

We know that Lean can collapse cycle time by 75% or more. Here’s what that means for COVID-19:

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

“If you’ve ever done any Lean projects, you know pretty much if the process is this long {gestures}, with Value Stream Mapping and Spaghetti Diagramming, you can collapse that by maybe 75%, 80%, 90%. You can actually reduce the cycle time for almost anything and do it easily.

“One of the things that is creating optimism for me is that a few years ago I worked with an aerospace manufacturing company, and typically to get a Request For Proposal through, it was 1.9 years for any new part.

Posted by Jay Arthur in Healthcare, Improvement Insights, Lean.