Education Does Not Mean Production

Improvement Insights Blog

Education Does Not Mean Production

Lots of people have been educated in Lean Six Sigma, but some can’t use the methods and tools to solve problems. Here’s why:

“You know, I worked at Bell Laboratories in the mid-70s, and I was the little representative from one of the Bell operating companies: U.S West. It was Mountain Bell at that time, I guess… That’s true!

“Anyway, I was out there and boy, I’ll tell you: we had people with master’s degrees and PhD degrees. One of the things that I discovered when I was there is that education does not mean production. Right? There were people that were very educated and were very good at school but couldn’t find a way to write a line of code that worked with all the with all the help in the world. We had one guy with a high school education that coded circles around everybody, including me.

“So, this [is what] I want you to think about: education is great, [but] unfortunately sometimes people that are good at education are not good at getting stuff done. Sometimes people who are good at getting stuff done are not “formally educated,” but they are educated through the things they have done. I think if you’re hiring somebody who’s a Green Belt or a Black Belt, you should ask them, “What kind of projects have you done? Tell me about that.” I don’t care who trained you, I care about what you’ve gotten done. What are your projects? Have you saved money? Have you saved time? Have you saved lives? Yeah? Cool! Tell me about that. If they can’t answer that question, then they’ve been educated but they don’t know how to do the [work].

“Even me, when I when I took my first training, it took me about a year and a half to connect all the dots and figure out how to make the system work with telephone data. It just took me a long time to figure that out, but once I did… boy, I was like a chainsaw going through that place. If I could have stayed longer, I’d probably chainsawed more things, because there was a lot of stuff to fix.

“All right, so that’s my Improvement Insight for this week: Learn stuff but apply it. That is the magical essence of what this is all about. Let’s create a hassle-free America; hassle-free healthcare. Let’s go out and improve something this week.”

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