Few weeks back, there was an article being circulated in quality circles which remarked Six Sigma as a fashion and GE as its model. Market capitalization shrank from $600 billion (in 2000) to $80 billion now for GE doubting the tool behind its success at one time.

Some time back there was a similar debate about lean (or Toyota Production System) was useless since Toyota claimed many recalls. I was wondering how can we make such conclusions !!!

The business is becoming increasingly complex and thus only 1 tool can not solve the variety of problems that an organisation faces !

In Spite of avenger superheroes are powerful in themselves, they have to come together to fight complex threats faced by planet. Definitely we can not say that since one of the super hero could not fight the battle, he is redundant / bad / useless. For complex tasks / problems or opportunities, variety of tools have to be deployed.

The team of super hero’s (Iron Man, Captain America, Hulk, Thor, Romanoff, Barton)

Each one is packed with lots of power !

But its also true that we make our Hulk (tools like Six Sigma, Lean, TQM, ISO9001, Tata Business Excellence Model etc) weak our-self. In my opinion, we make it weak by doing the below knowingly or un-knowingly.

  1. Not understanding the business context / overall situation. If business context is not understood, the whole point of correctly prioritizing is missed.
  2. Following the process too tightly. Every situation is different and facilitators need to adjust for best business results. The key is to ensure that principles behind the tools are followed. Many facilitators do not begin their projects without a charter with KPI. They do not go with something called progressive elaboration
  3. Not knowing the basics / principles behind what was prescribed by the tool. Why do we do a 2-t test? Doing for the sake of doing is a sin!
  4. Missing the elements of creativity..for e.g. re-framing the problem which is the starting point of any given problem solving process…Six Sigma, TQM, Lean, Toyota Production System, ISO9001 etc. Jumping too soon into execution.
  5. Making the problem too simple (may be because the facilitator tried solving problem on Excel only) that it misses the whole complex context. Going to the gemba was so much required.
  6. Not doing enough preparation, studying in depths to find underlying causation mechanism. Devil lies in details!
  7. Not pushing everyone to find new relationships, ideas or using newer technologies and methodologies to solve a problem. One full phase is devoted to this idea of coming out with new solutions. Routine solution refinement is fine, but we need bright new solutions.

If we just anchor our approach to business benefits, we will retain the power in our super hero – Hulk aka the excellence tools and techniques e.g. Six Sigma and lean. Lets be super heros ourselves.