Improvement Insights Blog
Tools Looking for Problems to Solve
People trained in Six Sigma want to take an advanced tool and apply it to a problem. They spend a lot of time looking for a problem where they can use the tool. That’s the wrong approach. What should you do instead?
“I’ve been detecting sort of an interesting pattern, at least recently. There’s all these people being trained as Green Belts and Black Belts, and when they’re done with all that training they have all these tools and then they decide they’re going to take one of those tools – maybe it’s Attribute Agreement Analysis or Design Of Experiments or something more complicated – and then they go out and they look for a problem to solve using that tool.
“Well, guess what? I think that’s the wrong way to go about it. Start with problems you really have, and most of them will yield to what I call “The Magnificent Seven Tools,” and then solve all of those. Once you get rid of all the uncomplicated problems that need analysis with data, guess what? Maybe then you’ll discover along the way that there’s actually a problem you can use those other tools on, but don’t be a tool looking for a problem.
“Find a problem, figure out what tool you need and work on the problem, because that’s the most important thing; that is absolutely the most important thing. You do not need a sledgehammer to hang a picture on the wall, right? Maybe you just need a little tiny hammer to get that into the wall.
“So that’s my Improvement Insight for this week. Let’s start with the problem, then pick the tool to solve it, not start with tools and look for problems that don’t need solution, all right? So let’s go out and improve something this week.”