Is Lean Six Sigma Just an Ukulele?

Improvement Insights Blog

Is Lean Six Sigma Just an Ukulele?

Have you ever made a judgement and discarded an idea before you realize how valuable it could be? Here’s how it applies to Lean Six Sigma and ukuleles:

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

“This is an ukulele, and most of you probably think, “Well, that’s for Hawaiian music, isn’t it?” I’ll tell you; no, it’s a very versatile instrument. You can do lots with it. If you don’t believe me, go watch Jake Shimabukuro do Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen; it’s on YouTube.

“You know, with this this instrument we can do lots of things. We might do rock: “You ain’t nothing but a hound dog crying all the time…” We might do country: “Mamas, don’t let your babies grow up to be cowboys…” Or we might do reggae: “We’re jamming…” You get the idea.

“Sometimes we come in with preconceived notions about what something will do, right? An ukulele will do all kinds of music, not just Hawaiian. The same is true of Lean and Six Sigma.

“You know, I say Lean Six Sigma to people and what do they say? “Isn’t that just for manufacturing?” I say, “Well, no, you can use it in banking, healthcare, aerospace, baking… if you have anything, you can do it. You can use these tools and make things better, faster, cheaper. People often try to put things in a in a cubby hole so that they don’t have to learn anything new. Who wants to learn stuff new? Well unfortunately, we’re stuck. It has to happen, all right?

“The same thing’s true with QI Macros. “Well, I don’t see how we could use a control chart on our data…” Well, do you have financial data over time? Do you have data about mistakes, errors, waste, rework, lost profit? Any of that kind of stuff that occurs over time. Yeah? Okay, well, a control chart will work and the QI Macros will draw that for you. Don’t just think that your Lean Six Sigma ukulele is just for Hawaiian music.

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

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