Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Why Lean Six Sigma isn't good for everything

I have run into, now and then, very slick efficiency-improvement systems such as Lean and Six Sigma that are billed as the answer for every problem in an organization. They are always billed as brand new, the latest thing, but they are not. Years ago there was TQL, or total quality management. Before that something else. Even reading about these systems just makes my soul die in place. I am sure that these systems are good for running a factory, but managers and leaders in every area of life get swept up in the hype and start trying to apply these (to me) stultifying systems to every type of organization. Renowned Oxford Scholar and Tolkien expert, Thomas Shippey, while speaking of the state of academia, addressed these programs better than I could:
Managerial programs work best where there is a clear and quantifiable
outcome and an easy way of checking what the work-force is doing. Neither of
these apply to teaching, or research. Really productive researchers are often
staring at the wall, or going for walks -- and their product tends to turn up
ten years later. Good teaching is not measured by the number of degrees you turn
out, or even how highly the students rate you at the time. But unsophisticated
management systems (and those are the ones we have) insist on counting


Anonymous said...

Is there any chances that Six Sigma management has any connection with the devil schemes?

Doyel mirza said...

community members who go through the auditing process–which can be anxiety inducing–but you make a great point about how strong systems and dedication to continuous improvement are what management systems are all about. Thanks for sharing.lean six sigma