“Don’t expect a positive ROI from your lean and Six Sigma investments if they are nothing but a pretty picture.
I once had a plant manager tell me his factory had implemented Six Sigma, but there was not a single statistical process control chart. How is that possible? Another had the control charts in place but refused to allow the operator to shut the process down when it indicated an out-of-control condition. Another plant claimed it was lean but had a dozen bins of parts stacked on the floor as part of a two bin system. Another plant routinely violated the daily production plan by rescheduling orders, and then the plant blamed the supply chain for causing it to frequently run out of parts (which then drove it to change the schedule… a vicious circle).”
Michel Baudin‘s comments:
A good article about how you fail to achieve any performance improvement from what you pretend to do. The pretense doesn’t make you any better at what you do, but it may have a business purpose in getting you the opportunity to do it at all.
The author opens with SPC control charts, which aren’t even part of Six Sigma as originally developed. These control charts are a 90-year-old tool that is not needed in mature industries and cannot cut the analytical mustard in high technology. It’s a “Three Sigma” tool that Six Sigma was supposed to replace, until it was watered down to the old SPC.
Is posting SPC control charts on your shop floor useful? Not if you want to improve your process capability, but yes if you have a customer who demands to see them. The tangible result is the contract you sign with this customer.
Many manufacturing organizations also pretend to “do Lean” to humor customers. It’s a cost of doing business. What you do for show does not, and cannot improve performance because it’s not the intent.
Mark Graban called this L.A.M.E. for “Lean As Mistakenly Executed”; Bob Emiliani, fake Lean. I just call it “Lean Lite.” Those who really want to improve performance are annoyed by it, because it distracts manufacturing professionals and, over time, devalues the “Lean” label.
If your focus is performance improvement and not appearances, you select projects that have an impact and develop your skills — like SMED on an injection molding machine — but may not be as visible to visitors. You get more checkmarks on their lists by hanging Andon lights on all the machines, even if no one pays any attention to them in daily operations.
If you are an engineer, all you care about is making things work. In marketing, on the other hand, appearances are essential. To be a general manager, you must be able to see the business from both perspectives.