Its not the tool, but how you use it that counts.
I recently ran a short ½ day training course for a local council’s supplier development program, which had attendees from a wide range of industries in the local area.
Now these training courses are very much an introduction to Lean Six Sigma and the improvement methodologies that go with them but many of the attendees come with the idea that this ½ day course (That the local council provides for free) is going to solve all their business problems and equip them with the knowledge they need to increase their profits exponentially.
One of the attendees asked what Lean Six Sigma tools she could use to improve quality in her business, as this was her main concern and a major source of customer dissatisfaction. I asked if they had standard operating procedures in place, to which she said ‘yes’. The next question didn’t really need asking, or so I thought! “So, how do you ensure these are followed?”, I asked. “We don’t actually follow them, as everyone has their own way of doing things, don’t they? We only put them in place to pass some kind of audit a couple of years ago.”
My heart slowly sank as she uttered these words as I realised she had come along to find a ‘magic’ tool in the LSS tool kit that would take all her quality issues away. I spent 10 minutes with the lady after the course explaining that the standard operating procedures in themselves weren’t going to solve her problem but if she introduced a robust adherence procedure around them along with a stringent quality assurance process, then this would raise her quality levels very quickly and make an instant impact on her customer satisfaction levels.
The look on her face when she realised she had been half way to solving her problems without recognising it was priceless. It just goes to show, it’s not the tools that get the results but the intelligence in knowing how and when to use them, along with some basic management discipline to ensure the application is adhered to.