Is It Time to Rethink and Simplify Quality Improvement?

Is It Time to Rethink and Simplify Quality Improvement?

At the ASQ Lean Six Sigma Conference in Phoenix, keynoter Gregory Watson asked: “Is it time to rethink and simplify quality improvement?” I believe Agile is the answer:


“I was out at the ASQ Lean Six Sigma conference in Phoenix [earlier this year]. Dr. Gregory Watson, the keynote [speaker], was also the keynote [speaker] at the very first conference back in 2000. He said, “Is it time to start to rethink what we’re doing in Quality? Can we simplify what we’re doing?”

“I say the answer to that question is yes, obviously, because I’ve been talking about Agile Lean Six Sigma: How do we take the skills of Agile and apply them to Lean and Six Sigma so we can get results in a day or two; not in weeks and months and years.

“At this conference I also saw some presentations. One managed health care group found that they started out and tried to do it the 20th century way (with “Big Sigma,” as I call it) and they had to come back and regroup. They started to work on “Let’s have some prework to make sure somebody has a real problem to solve, then we get them into training and actually have them learn and apply it to get the results.” So prework, learning and work, and then implementation to get the results. That’s how it happens.

“I had a couple of people stop by my booth and say, “We started off and we did the “Big Sigma” thing and it failed.” I’m going to suggest that the way we’ve been talking about it might work if you’re a Fortune 500 company with deep pockets and a long tenure of your CEO… otherwise it’s going to fail. I don’t think we listen to the fact that it fails. We’re not monitoring ourselves now, are we?

“So that’s it; let’s simplify how we approach Lean and Six Sigma. Let’s rethink how we do it so we can start getting results immediately and getting to these outcomes where we start to create a hassle-free America, hassle-free health care. All of these things are possible, but you’ve got to want to.

“That’s my Improvement Insight for this week. Let’s go out and improve something.”