When spending a full week training a client in Lean Six Sigma, it is always awesome to see what they take away from the training and what they are planning to implement.

For the client I have spent time with this week, many people experienced a “brain shift”. Participants started the training with pre-conceived ideas of problems and solutions. Their problem solving methodology consisted of jumping straight to conclusions and solutions!

And now, after the training? They seemed willing to take a step back, spend time figuring out that problem statement, discovering the voice of their customer, finding the root cause, before jumping to the solution.

Lean Six Sigma can be counter-intuitive – as humans, we can be such problem solvers. Desperately wanting a quick fix. But so often we are confused when the problem does not go away after we have implemented our solution.

It can be a challenge for some people to turn down that need to come up with a quick solution, and put more effort into focusing on understanding the problem. It can feel slower. But if we do this, our perception of what is actually going on, can start to shift and we will end up with a better solution.

One of the participants started the training with a view that all this time spent figuring out the problem was a big waste. They very loudly expressed their view that the problem was “the system was no good and needed to change”. Well that kind of thinking only leads to one solution. Replace the system. By the end of the training, they realised that the system was not the problem, it was that people were making too many errors, caused by a lack of a consistent approach to using the system. And hey presto, suddenly a new system is not needed, but a review of the process to ensure that each person is using it consistently and appropriately – a much cheaper solution!

How has a knowledge of Lean Six Sigma changed the way you think?