Lean and Six Sigma Don’t work.

I wish I had a crisp £20 note for every time I’ve heard that one in my career. Although, the doubters and naysayers don’t realise just how close they are to the truth.


Now there’s no doubt that many companies have tried either Lean or Six Sigma, or even both and not had much, if any success. So from their point of view, the statement at the top is very true ? this is their perception of these methodologies and to that degree, it is true for them.

So, this inevitably begs the question, why does Lean and Six Sigma work for some companies and not for others?

The answer to this is also closely linked to the age old question around? How do we make the improvements sustainable?? and if you’re a senior manager asking this question, the answer is very simple? Look in the mirror.

Anyway back to the original question and why some companies get it right and some just don’t.

The answer has been staring everyone in the face for years but very few ever heard the message as it was delivered:

“Without Standardisation, there can be no Kaizen” – Taichi Ohno

But how does this seemingly simple quote answer the question above?

Think wider than just the process standardisation, think about the basics of Operations Management. This standardisation that Ohno spoke about was

Lssdontworksomething the Japanese at Toyota took for granted? their culture, the inherent discipline of good basic management and adherence to processes (whether this was the manufacturing processes or the daily management routines and processes).

They already had a very solid foundation upon which to build before they started to look at the many “Lean” tools that they later developed over half a century.

Simply put, lay the foundations, then begin to build the house.

Until Next Time..

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