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Lift & Tilt Podcast – Episode 002 :  Six Sigma & GE – A Cautionary Tale

Lift & Tilt Podcast – Episode 002 :  Six Sigma & GE – A Cautionary Tale

Date: 1/27/20

Host: Robert Dennard & Kurt Guntner

Overview: Robert and Kurt enjoy a Mexican style lager while discussing the history of Six Sigma, and how it shaped GE from the late ’90’s to current day. With expert testimony from Toyota’s National Manager of LEAN, Robert and Kurt look to understand how process management systems work and if they can help businesses outside the manufacturing industry. Join us to learn more about process management, and what can be gleaned from past successes and failures of a company like GE.


Question & Answer with Scott Redelman, National Manager LEAN – Toyota Material Handling

1) Given the history/example detailed in the article – do you think it’s possible to focus so heavily on a particular style of process management that it becomes a detriment to the organization?

That all depends.  If the process management focus is a detriment to innovation, then maybe yes.  In Toyota Lean Management, we are using TPS methodology – which is entirely focused on developing people to incrementally solve problems in their own process.  This fosters a culture of continuous improvement rather than an event.  It also relies on the creativity on the associates in the organization to solve the issues they face every day whereas often times the style of Six Sigma encourages the improvements to be conducted by the ‘experts’ – the black belts.  TPS considers the people in the process to be the true experts in the process.  If we value our associates as the experts, and put them in the position to solve problems they face every day, then the culture of improvement builds upon itself.  This philosophy looks at management and skilled improvement folks as the culture builders.  They don’t exist to solve all of the problems.  Instead, management and improvement leaders exist to remove roadblocks in order to put the team in a position to win.

2) For companies that aren’t manufacturers, companies that are primarily service providers or retailers, do you think that the lean styles of management can have the same positive transformational effect that it’s had for manufacturers?

Absolutely yes.  Lean applies to everything.  Everything we do – at home and at work, in manufacturing, retail, whatever industry – is a process.  Wherever there is a process, there’s a process that isn’t perfect that can be improved.  Toyota has relationships with customers and contacts benchmarking TPS (Toyota’s lean culture and tools) from health care, military, logistics, accounting and of course service organizations.  We even use the skills of lean to support continuous improvement in not for profits!  You name it, lean can be applied.  Successful lean transformations always begin and are sustained by the culture of respect for people’s work.

3) For companies that are thinking about implementing a process management style such as lean, agile, six sigma, etc.  What advice would you have for them regarding implementation and potential pitfalls they should be aware.

First, you have to be ‘all in’.  You have to trust the process over time.  It can’t be flavor of the month – meaning the top of the organization has to understand the process takes time.

Second, it can’t all be about the KPI results.  Instead, focus on the human capital development rather than cost savings.  Successful lean cultures focus on singles and doubles (baseball metaphor).  Home runs can come later as the organization develops.

Third, designation of ‘lean champions’ is critically important.  Choose folks that are ‘servant leaders’ – people that look for how they can help other succeed.  The champions don’t need to be leaders on the org chart, but they need to be leaders in the sense that others in the organization respect their approach and are willing to follow their lead.

Finally, pick the methodology that will work best within your organization and that your culture can sustain.

Source Articles:
Quartz at Work | Whatever Happened to Six Sigma

The Brew & Tasting Notes:

Deep Ellum – Neato Bandito

“Neato is Deep Ellum’s interpretation of a Mexican-style lager. But Neato’s been working out and is stronger than the others! Light in color, but big in flavor, Neato Bandito wants to help you enjoy all of your summertime activities! Viva la RAZA!”

Original Gravity: 0
Bitterness: 18 IBU
Alcohol Content (ABV): 6.0%

Produced by LTS Studios, an in-house division of Lift Truck Supply, Inc. – a full-line provider of Toyota forklift equipment, service, parts and rentals. LTS – Your Forklift Accessory & Parts Headquarters

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