There have been a large number of companies that have begun their Continuous Improvement journey but never reached the promise land. My 20 + years of experience has shown me that they fell in love with a tool or two and thought that was all that they needed to do. Yes, they realized some gains and everyone celebrated, but as time went by they were unable to sustain and build on what they had achieved.
You may be asking how it can happen over and over again? People are so happy to see something work that they lose sight of what the real objective is. The objective is not to master the tools, but rather to master the ability to transform the business to a different state. Only through transformation can you truly achieve Lean Six Sigma.
The true practitioners understand this and are cautious to tell business leaders that this a journey that they are about to embark upon and are they committed to seeing it through. Everyone is eager to get started and capture all of the low hanging fruit. But what happens after all of the low hanging fruit is gone, and you actually have to start transforming what you do to get to the fresh fruit.
I want you to think of the low hanging fruit as a commodity in your industry. Everyone can do it, and probably will. It’s only by working to get to the fruit that requires you to transform what you are doing that you can actually create a sustained margin of profit. You see it is here that you make your organization Uniquely Different. It is here that you no longer exist in the commodity realm. It is here that you provide true value in the eyes of the customer. Value that the customer is willing to pay for.
In Lean Six Sigma we spend a lot of time talking about Value in the Eye of the Customer. We also spend time talking about the Voice Of the Business (VOB). In order for you to transform your organization you need to take some time and listen to what the business is telling you. Are you listening with the right tool or are you only listening with one tool?