Kodachrome and Quality Charts

Improvement Insights Blog

Kodachrome and Quality Charts

The gold standard of photography when I was growing up was Kodachrome, but you had to carefully compose your shot to get the best photos. Then you had to wait to get it developed only to discover that most of your photos were poor. Digital cameras changed all that. The same applies to Six Sigma Charts. Here’s why:

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

Paul Simon wrote a song about Kodachrome; when I was a kid, originally it was black and white film, but then we got Kodachrome color film that you could make really beautiful slides and everything with. The problem was you took a picture and then you took another picture and then eventually you had a roll of film, then you had to have it developed. Then you’d get your pictures back and you’d find out what it’s like… you know, did I spend that roll of film wisely or not? You were very hesitant to take a picture.

“Now we all have cell phones that are digital cameras, and we can take a picture of anything until we get one that’s pretty good, right? We can produce a lot of pictures and pick the one that’s the best, and actually you end up with a better set of pictures that way than if you just took them one at a time with a camera and Kodachrome.

“Now, this applies to Lean and Six Sigma because when I started, there was no way to draw charts and things. If you spent a lot of time drawing a chart by hand, you really felt like you owned it, you know? Once I created the QI Macros, I could draw lots of charts and just throw the ones away that made no sense, because I could draw them like that {snaps fingers}.

“Sometimes you just have to draw a lot of charts, do a lot of analysis, throw away the stuff that doesn’t work, keep the stuff that’s really a good picture of the story that you want to tell.

“That’s my Improvement Insight for this week: Create a lot of charts, figure out which ones tell you something and then take action. Let’s go out and improve something this week.”

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