The Agenda

Dave Weigel’s Great Piece on Lean Six Sigma

It’s worth keeping in mind the following wise words from a Midwestern Democrat:

Graham Richard, the Democratic mayor of Fort Wayne, Ind., from 2000 to 2008, is generally credited as the first government official to implement the plan. He gives seminars on how other local governments can copy it, pointing them to the little cost-saving measures his city figured out—$200,000 less a year spent on garbage collection, things like that.

“I support the use of Lean Six Sigma,” says Richard. “I’m glad Mike is out there doing this. But I don’t like starting the discussion by saying ‘Lean Six Sigma will save you money.’ This is the start of a process where eventually you’ll get to fewer people doing better, yes, of course. At the federal level, I’m just a little bit leery of grandiose promises. We Americans … we’re always looking for the moon shot, the easy solution, just do this and everything will be fine.”

And that is the problem. There is no moon shoot. Lean Six Sigma isn’t a “solution” so much as a way of thinking — that finding efficiencies and creating value is a matter of continuous, sustained improvement. 

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