Authored By: Rebecca Garcia
Lean and Six Sigma methodologies have brought tremendous improvements to my life at work and at home. People who understand these concepts can use what they learn to help clarify issues, diagnose root causes, and pinpoint business solutions.
The biggest issue I have run into with Lean Six Sigma is when it falls short, because people within the organization (or in my personal life) do not understand it or refuse to accept change. I know I have made great changes in my life by using the concepts of both Lean and Six Sigma to help identify the defects that have caused damaging results.
There is a popular quote that says: “The definition of insanity is doing the same things the exact same way while expecting the results to change.” That is what tends to happen when we have hopes without a plan. It would be like a farmer expecting to reap a harvest without planting anything. This is how I used to think about life until I started using the principles of Lean Six Sigma. I developed a plan that clearly stated what it is that I wanted to change.
For example, many people resolve to lose weight in the New Year. That’s a good start, but things go south quickly when they try the same tactics that they’ve tried before, expecting different results. There is a statistical expression that you probably learned at some point of your educational journey that states: Y = f (X). I am sure many people like me quickly forgot this expression because we didn’t realize how important it was to problem solving and goal fulfillment. In order to accomplish a goal (Y) you need to identify and measure the factors (X) drives you to that goal.
First, I had to identify all the factors that impacted the result I wanted. Then, experimenting with the key factors in a controlled environment, I was able to find the “vital few” that had the biggest impact. Let me stress, that I might have made positive changes before in my life but until I started measuring my results, I didn’t have the knowledge to “sustain the gains,” so to speak. Owing to my Six Sigma training, I have also saved more money for retirement and decreased expenses in other areas of my life.
I am a person that moves and acts with a purpose. I do not like lazy people and I definitely do not like wasting my time. Lean Six Sigma has helped me reduce wasted time by speeding up processes through better organization. Sorting things around my house, putting them in an order that makes sense, and cleaning out the clutter, by labeling and color-coating (coding) so nobody else can put things away incorrectly are all a part of a concept called 5S or 6S. I set out my clothes for the whole week at home; and at work, I have color coded my emails according to top priority.
Another huge impact Lean Six Sigma has had in my professional life is helping me get to the root cause of the problem and then analyzing it, to formulate recommendations and suggestions. Instead of re-working the same problem over and over; I now either use a 5-why tool or a chart to get to the root problem. I have implemented a Lean Six Sigma training program for the entire Arizona National Guard, which has caught the eye of the Executive leaders of our state.
I appreciate all of the training and education I have received from Dr. Mikel Harry and all of the other Lean Six Sigma educators I have met. I am excited to discover where these methodologies will take me in the future.