Traditional Wisdom

Improvement Insights Blog

Traditional Wisdom

In Six Sigma we keep hearing the same messages over and over. Are they wisdom or just tradition?

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

“I saw a quote the other day that I really liked, which said, “Traditional wisdom is often more tradition than wisdom.” I think around the Quality Improvement world we keep hearing the same old stuff: “You must have top leadership commitment.” That’d be great, but that doesn’t mean that that’s what you’re going to get. You need to be the one doing the Quality Improvement stuff. If you’re waiting on your leadership team to get on board, good luck to you. You know… retire now because it’s not going to necessarily happen. Some places it does, but I’m sorry… it’s just not a thing that happens.

“So there’s also [stuff] like “Two week and four week Black Belt training.” No! I think you can get a lot done in a couple of days using Agile Process Innovation, and then that’ll screen people. You’ll start to figure out who really has the talent to go on and take a Green Belt or Black Belt class. Just pulling people at random out and sending them off to Black Belt training, I think, is dumb, right? Because we don’t know if those people will do it, and very often they only do one project and then they’re done, but they have a certificate that says they’re a Black Belt. I’m sorry, that’s… I gauge people by the results they’ve gotten, not by the sheep skin they own, right? That’s a piece of my wisdom.

“So anyway, traditional wisdom may not be wisdom at all, it may just be tradition. Let’s go out and improve something this week, and one of those things might be our understanding of what is tradition and what is wisdom.”

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