Acceptance Sampling In The Age Of Low PPM Defectives

Today, some automotive parts manufacturers are able to deliver one million consecutive units without a single defective, and pondering quality management practices appropriate for this level of performance is not idle speculation. Of course, it is only achieved by outstanding suppliers using mature processes in mature industries. You cannot expect it during new product introduction or in high-technology industries where, if your processes are mature, your products are obsolete.

While still taught as part of the quality curriculum, acceptance sampling has been criticized by authors like W. E. Deming and is not part of the Lean approach to quality. For qualified items from suppliers you trust, you accept shipments with no inspection; for new items or suppliers you do not trust, you inspect 100% of incoming units until the situation improves. Let us examine both what the math tells us about this and possible management actions, with the help of 21st century IT.

Continue reading

The Downside of Six Sigma | Don Peppers | LinkedIn Pulse

“Revered for decades as one of the world’s most innovative companies, 3M lost its innovative mojo when it began using Six Sigma to try to improve its operational efficiency. James McNerney, the CEO named in 2000, was a Jack Welch protégé from GE. He introduced the Six Sigma discipline as soon as he took the helm of the firm, streamlining work processes, eliminating 10% of the workforce, and earning praise (initially) from Wall Street, as operating margins grew from 17% in 2001 to 23% by 2005.

But when McNerney tried to apply the Six Sigma discipline to 3M’s research and development processes it led to a dramatic fall-off in the number of innovative products developed by the company during those years.”

Sourced through from:

Michel Baudin‘s comments:

Don Peppers describes “eliminating 10% of the work force” as part of implementing the “Six Sigma discipline,” but I don’t recall seeing anything on that subject when learning about Six Sigma.

Continue reading

Unilever’s new program for WCM | | Jan van Ede

“Unilever changed their approach in 2012. Within Fiat they discovered a balanced WCM-program, developed by professor emeritus Hajime Yamashima. He integrated Lean and Six Sigma from the start in the TPM management pillars. The result: more focus, better opportunities for cross-departmental improvement, and more attention to the role of the people.”

Sourced through from:

Michel Baudin‘s comments:

In the late 1980s, as part of Kei Abe’s MTJ team, I went to Unilever facilities in the Netherlands, Italy, the UK, and the US to help them implement what had yet to be called “Lean.” Unilever was impressive as an organization in that, in markets including detergents, processed foods, mass-market toiletries and prestige cosmetics, they were afraid of nobody, anywhere.

Continue reading

Why Your Lean and Six Sigma Improvement Efforts Aren’t Driving Better Results | IndustryWeek | John Dyer

“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).”


Continue reading

The one thing Lean Six Sigma got wrong about Lean | Erwin van der Koogh | Guest on Lean Blog

“[…]In 2002, Michael George and Robert Lawrence Jr. published Lean Six Sigma: Combining Six Sigma with Lean Speed, a book that started a revolution that quickly took hold in boardrooms around the globe. Total Quality Control and Six Sigma had always appealed to senior managers, but now it came with the added bonus of increased speed and reduced cost. It was a very welcome addition in the post “dot-com bubble” era and was always too good to be true.[…]”


Michel Baudin‘s comments:

This is a guest post on Mark Graban’s Lean Blog.  Like Mark, I agree with enough of what Erwin says to recommend reading it. Approaches like Lean or Six Sigma emerge out of specific contexts where they are successful, but then their boosters go global cosmic.

Six Sigma started out as a modernization of the tools used to achieve process capability in various segments of the electronics industry, with the goal of making statistical design of experiments a common practice, and the belt system was a way to propagate this body of knowledge. Success in this limited endeavor did not justify selling it as a business panacea.

Lean started out as TPS, which is, to date, the best known way to make cars. TPS has a much broader scope than Six Sigma, encompassing management and technology. It includes human resource management as well as designs for welding lines. The “Lean” label for TPS was a way to allow other car companies to apply it without explicitly referencing Toyota, and to package it for use beyond the car industry. While it’s clearly applicable in many industries, it’s not a panacea either.

What happens when you try to expand an approach beyond its range of applicability is that you drain it of substance in order to make it generic, as has happened to both Lean and Six Sigma, not to mention Lean Six Sigma. All you are left with at that point is homilies.

I have explained my perspective on these matters in the post “MIT article comparing Lean, TQM, Six Sigma, “and related enterprise process improvement methods.”

See on Scoop.itlean manufacturing

Lean six sigma the oxymoron | Troy Taylor | LinkedIn

“In the beginning Toyota created TPS, then came Motorola in 1986 with their six sigma process. In 1988 John Krafcik coined the term Lean in his paper entitled“Triumph of the Lean production system” which was quickly popularised by Womack, Roos and Jones in 1991 with the publication of their book “The machine that changed the world”. Then in 2002 Michael George and Robert Lawrence junior published their book entitled “Lean Six Sigma: Combining Six Sigma with Lean Speed”.

Ever since this point organisations have been attempting to mesh the 2 methodologies into one business improvement technique and failing.”


Michel Baudin‘s comments:

Troy speaks from experience. Mine is similar, but I am not as negative on Six Sigma as he is. I think of Six Sigma as an approach that is useful within a range of applicability and is limited in scope.

See on Scoop.itlean manufacturing

One on one with John Shook | Lean Management Journal

See on Scoop.itlean manufacturing
“LMJ Editorial Director, Jon Tudor, meets chairman and CEO of the Lean Enterprise Institute, John Shook, for the second in our One on one series. Jon asks some tough questions posed by a select few of the lean community’s …”

See on

Beware the Sirens of Management Pseudo-Science | HBR Blog | Freek Vermeulen

See on Scoop.itlean manufacturing

“…A common formula to create a best-selling business book is to start with a list of eye-catching companies that have been outperforming their peers for years. This has the added advantage of creating an aura of objectivity because the list is constructed using “objective, quantitative data.” Subsequently, the management thinker takes the list of superior companies and examines (usually in a rather less objective way) what these companies have in common. Surely — is the assumption and foregone conclusion — what these companies have in common must be a good thing, so let’s write a book about that and become rich…”

Michel Baudin‘s insight:

Bill Waddell branded the author of this article “The Naysayer Personified,” which prompted me to read it. Vermeulen’s first target it “In Search of Excellence,” a best seller from the 1980s that pointed out “excellent” companies that didn’ excel so much after the book came out. I had read it at the time, and had found it little more than a cheer-leading compilation of the public relations literature of the companies. So far, I agreed with Vermeulen.

Further on, he bashes as management fads not only Six Sigma, TQM, and ISO-9000 — no argument here — but also Lean. Ouch! This is my stock in trade, and I really should argue that Vermeulen doesn’t get it.

But my heart is not in it. Much has been done in the name of Lean by now that amounts to little more than slapping the label onto ideas that are unrelated to the Toyota Production System (TPS), and it hasn’t been particularly effective.

That is not what Lean is to me. I see it as the adaptation to other contexts of the principles that have made Toyota successful in the car business, involving in practice the selection and adaptation of relevant TPS tools, as well as the development of new ones. And I admit readily that it is not a panacea. There are plenty of human endeavors to which it does not apply, but what interests me is the ones to which it does.

When you want to discuss this now, just can’t just say “Lean,” you have to qualify it as “Lean Deep” or “True Lean,”  as opposed to “Lean Lite” or “Lean As Mistakenly Executed” (L.A.M.E.).

Could the same be said of the other approaches Vermeulen criticizes? To some extent, yes. Six Sigma and TQM, for example, are based on real contributions made in specialized areas, before their promoters went global cosmic.

See on

Improving operations: How far can you go with common sense?

In the Lean Six Sigma discussion group on LinkedIn, Brian P. Sheets argues that ” the alphabet soup of acronyms describing the multitude of process improvement & management methodologies that have come and gone over the last 50 years […]  is just plain, old, common sense.”  The list he targets in this statement is Six Sigma, TQM, BPR, BPM, TOC, MBO, Kaizen, and Gemba Kaizen, and overlap the one I discussed earlier in this blog. To support his argument, he invokes not only the great work done in US manufacturing during World War II without these acronyms, but goes back all the way to Egypt’s pyramids.

I see things differently. The old days were not so great and we have learned a few new tricks in the 68 years since the end of World War II, as a result of which we are not only able to make better products, but we also use fewer people to make them, at a higher quality. There definitely is something to some of the ideas that have been packaged under various brands in that time, and it is definitely more than common sense.

What is common sense anyway? The common sense approach to a problem is the solution that would be chosen by an intelligent person without any specialized knowledge. It is what you resort to when faced with a new situation you are unprepared for, like the businessman played by Anthony Hopkins in The Edge, who is stranded in the Alaskan wilderness by a plane crash and has to kill a grizzly.

Once you have been working on something for a few years, however, you are supposed to have acquired specialized knowledge of it, and apply solutions that are beyond common sense. And these solutions are counter-intuitive to anyone without this experience. Lean manufacturing concepts like one-piece flow or heijunka are bewildering to beginners, because they have nothing to go by beyond their common sense.

Common sense,” Descartes said, “is the most fairly distributed thing in the world, for each one thinks he is so well-endowed with it that even those who are hardest to satisfy in all other matters are not in the habit of desiring more of it than they already have.” After that, he proceeds to explain a method “to seek truth in science” and presents three applications of this method, the best known being analytic geometry. All of this is far beyond common sense.

For all these reasons, I am not too fond of invoking common sense in support of any new concept. What you really need is a rationale, and experimental proof through a small scale implementation.

Presenting “Lean, TQM, Six Sigma, TOC, Agile and BPR” to the ISPI in Reno, NV

This week, the International Society for Performance Improvement (ISPI) invited me to present the comparison of approaches I posted on this blog  in January, at its annual conference, held this year at the Silver Legacy Resort  in Reno, NV.

While the name of the society does not suggest it, it is really focused on training effectiveness;  its tag line “Where Knowledge Becomes Know-How” is more explicit than its name. Started in 1962 as the National Society for Programmed Instruction, which was an explicit reference to behaviorist B.F. Skinner. This reference was remove when it became the National Society for Performance and Instruction. It finally went international in 1995 and changed the “”PI” to Performance Improvement. The point was to emphasize concern for the outcome rather than the process of training, and, in doing so, highlight differences with the rival  American Society for Training and Development (ASTD).

ISPI has developed a body of knowledge called Human Performance Technology (HPT). which it defines as an integrated systems approach to improving the valued, measured results produced by people within a system. It has a 6-step implementation methodology, and ISPI has a program to train Certified Performance Technologists (CPT).

Most of the 500 attendees were training managers in corporations, and the others included academics, consultants, and entrepreneurs in training technology. The vast majority was from the US. On the international side, I ran into attendees from Canada, Nigeria, Korea and Taiwan, but none from Europe, Japan, or mainland China.

Compared to other conferences I have attended, I found this group to be unusually friendly and welcoming, as well as serious and dedicated. Given the speakers’ background in training, you might expect them to be good presenters, and they delivered: no laundry-list slides and no reading aloud of text. And they frequently engaged the audience through questions, polls and  short group discussions, to which it responded with gusto.

The first presentation I attended, on Monday afternoon, was on Scenario-based eLearning, by Ruth Clark, author of eLearning and the Science of Instruction. I learned that  US corporations spent $65B/year on training, and that, in 2012, about 30% of it was on eLearning. Ruth Clark does not envision the disappearance of live instruction, but thinks a balance will eventually be reached because there are many subjects that simply cannot be taught remotely. I also learned about different approaches for the following different kinds of training:

  • Compliance — such as what safety gear you must wear to walk out of the shop floor.
  • Procedural — like processing a deposit for a bank teller.
  • Analytical — like diagnosing a machine failure or designing a production line.

The audience member seated next to me also volunteered that she was using  Articulate and Camtasia to develop eLearning materials.

The audience was here to learn, and didn’t stop during lunch. On the day I presented, the lunch session was called “chat’n chew.” Sandwiches were served in the largest ballroom, where each table had a designated speaker who had prepared a talk. 20 minutes later, the facilitator rang a bell, and all the participants moved to another table to hear another talk. There were three 20-minute sessions, so that each speaker gave his talk three times, to 10-12 people each time. The topics ranged from the documentation of human performance in processes to the way Lowe’s used Bloom’s taxonomy of educational objectives and collaborative development of eLearning materials.

My own presentation concluded the Research-to-Practice Symposium, preceded by Steven Villachica and Marcus Dickson. Steven discussed the use of the Critical Incident Technique (CIT) to give actionable meaning to otherwise vague and fuzzy guidelines like “provide excellent customer service.” Marcus presented the GLOBE Project about national cultures and leadership styles, blaming the failure of the Daimler/Chrysler merger on cultural differences.

Later, around drinks, I pointed out to Markus that, against all expectations, the Renault/Nissan merger succeeded in spite of much wider cultural differences between France and Japan than between Germany and the US. I also took him to task for describing German trains as running on time, when my own recent experience of crisscrossing Germany by train was of chronic delays and slowdowns, wrong carriage locations posted on platforms, and reservations sold for non-existent seats.

ISPI materials sometimes use a challenging vocabulary. Prerecorded on-line courses, for example, are called “asynchronous HPT.” But they also play with words, calling the lunch session “chat’n chew” and “lunch’n learn.” One presentation was about “Getting your shift together.”

My own presentation combined the materials from the January blog post with my recent introduction to Lean. From my perspective, human performance is a means to the end of growing manufacturing companies. Lean relies on people to improve operations, provides them with safe and secure jobs, and supports their professional development as a strategy for the company to gain market share, enhance profits, and grow. In ISPI’s HPT, on the other hand, enhancing human performance is the goal. The domains overlap enough for me to learn from the sessions I attended, and for the ISPI members to listen to what I had to say.

Whenever Lean implementers discuss training, these days, they promptly bring up Training Within Industry (TWI), which I would imagine to be of great interest to ISPI, but, to my surprise, there was not a single contribution about it in the whole conference.

For a conference, a casino is good value for money. In Reno, you enjoy the view from the upper floors, but you have to walk the flowery carpet in the hallway, past the his-and-hers Fiats prize and the lonely gamblers before you can go down the rabbit-hole elevator to the conference floor and its professional environment.