The recent business literature is awash with articles questioning the long term value add of Lean and Six Sigma initiatives. What started out as a checklist of success for Six Sigma and Lean projects, in the last few years turned into an all-out frontal attack on the approach; culminating in CBSNews calling Six Sigma the #1 stupidest management fad of all time.
Interestingly Lean focus brings a lot of speed to businesses partially because it eliminates waste and partially because of the enormous focus of customer driven activities. Six Sigma (not my expertise) had a strong focus on quality. The combination promised higher agility and higher quality. Many businesses (Kodak, 3M, Motorola, etc) that became world class Six Sigma shops were criticized by repeatedly missing business model innovation and be outrun by what should be ‘less agile’ competitors.
The main design principles for SCALE (our version of Lean Kanban) was to keep a balance between speed (Lean), business model innovation (our PSS method or BMG approach) and customer pull (Kanban).
In its ideal manifestation:
- we innovate solutions that the customers get fired up about (pull),
- we only work on activities that are customer facing and customer paid (by spending time, resources or money),
- we limit all non-value added and waste activities (Lean/Kanban)
- keep all of our work visible to everyone inside the firm (Lean/Kanban)
- measure our baseline and keep changing our approach so we get better (Lean/Kanban)
We redefined our Lean principles to best suit our needs in 5 rules:
- Focus on customer value creation (PULL)
- Make the team’s work visible
- Limit the tasks you are juggling (WIP)
- Measure your effectiveness (not efficiency)
- Continuously strive to improve
The journey is now ON.