Making Gingerbread Houses – The “Lean” Way
Posted on November 16, 2016 by Kamran Zamir
Lean Six Sigma Training and National stereotypes, an interesting observation
Posted on April 22, 2016 by ab zamir
From what we learn during Lean Six Sigma Green or Black Belt Training, there’s no Effect if there’s no Cause and it’s the same as saying, ‘There’s no smoke without a fire!’. It simply means nothing happens without a reason.
Stereotypes had to come from somewhere, otherwise, why do we have them? We tend to avoid discussing stereotypes. It’s not politically correct and we like to think we don’t adhere to them, but if we’re honest, much of the time we do.
Stereotypes are dangerous. They indicate fixed positions and they don’t allow room for Lean and Six Sigma thinking.
I recently delivered several 4 week Lean Six Sigma Black Belt courses with project work, for a multinational in the shipping industry. The location was 2 weeks in Copenhagen, 1 week in Rotterdam and the last week was in France. The attendees were British, German, Scandinavian and French. Teams were a mixture of all nationalities.
As the training and team projects progressed, national traits became apparent. The Brits were weaker at data analysis, but great at brainstorming and just wanted to get on and try solutions.
The Germans and Scandinavians were very thorough with data analysis and following the steps, however could not easily adjust their solution as more facts became known later during solution mode which contradicted earlier assumptions and data. The Scandinavians took longer convincing but very dedicated once engaged. The Norwegians found the concept of “Efficiency”, difficult to grasp as there isn’t such a term in the Norwegian language.
The French were great at documenting the process at the end to ensure good follow through when handing over to the process stakeholders. Also the French site insisted all course attendees stop every day for one hour for a multi-course lunch with wine. The previous trainer was American and apparently couldn’t get used to accommodating the cultural differences, and had no patience for the French lunch breaks.
The team that had the best result was the one where they recognized the strengths of the different team members and had them lead at different stages of the project. Some teams, however, got stuck at data analysis stage and couldn’t move on to take action, or took too long to make a decision. Then other teams rushed the data analysis and didn’t necessarily get a good solution in place, or the handover was sloppy to the key stakeholders in the organisation.
Very interesting experience.
National traits and characteristics do exist. And we all display them at times. But that doesn’t mean we aren’t individuals, or that we don’t have choices about how we behave. Making a generalisation about a cultural trait allows you to say it exists but not everyone displays it.
Establishing that it does exist simply helps explain certain cultural behaviours. One feature of cross cultural training is identifying where these stereotypes and generalisations are and aren’t helpful in a learning environment.
Stereotypes aren’t always bad!
Which stereotypes – negative and positive – are true or less true of your own country?
Lean Six Sigma Project Nightmare!
Posted on April 9, 2016 by ab zamir
Sun Tzu, Statistics and The Art of War for Lean Six Sigma Executives
Posted on March 27, 2016 by ab zamir
Warfare is one of the more common events in the history of man. Because of its importance to survival, warfare has been studied carefully. The factors that contribute to success in war are fairly well understood.
Fundamentally, success in war, as well as in business is based on leadership. Other factors such as information, preparation, organisation, communication, motivation and execution also contribute to success, but the effectiveness of these factors is entirely determined by the quality of leadership provided.
According to Sun Tzu, the Chinese military general, strategist and philosopher. To achieve success, you must manage information. Sun Tzu says that information, or the lack of it, determines the probability of success. According to him, if sufficient reliable information is available, victory is certain. Likewise, in business, you gather information to make good decisions. Information is the lifeblood of business. The best information comes from firsthand experience. Sun Tzu strongly champions the use of agents and informants (stakeholders) to gather and transmit firsthand information.
Sun Tzu warns us about relying on “folk wisdom”. Folk wisdom is the body of unproven assumptions and unwarranted speculation. Great danger lies in not challenging folk wisdom. Reliable facts always precede successful actions.
Most decisions made have an element of uncertainty. We simply cannot know everything. Even so, decisions must be made. Sun Tzu tells us to consider everything and make our decisions by weighing the potential for success. That is, Sun Tzu is telling us to assess the probability of success before acting. Modern managers have access to a number of simple, but powerful statistical techniques to assist them in quantifying uncertainty related to information. Lean Six Sigma is one such approach that can improve the quality of decisions.
Success on the information battlefield depends on knowing how to use statistics to make the right decisions.
Creativity is Intelligence Having Fun to identify Lean Six Sigma project solutions
Posted on October 15, 2015 by Kamran Zamir
When identifying Lean Six Sigma project solutions. Most of us have a preference for logical thinking. But that doesn’t mean we can’t be creative.
Much of what we call “intelligence” is our ability to recognize patterns. The human mind is great at recognizing patterns. We recognize sequences, cycles, shapes, processes, similarities, probabilities, etc. This is our comfort zone.
Patterns give us the power to understand the world and, as a consequence, they rule our thinking. They become the “rules” and “mental models” we live by. We use them to determine what is “typical”, “likely”, “estimated”. We use the rules and models to infer meaning. From meanings we make assumptions. We act based on the conclusions we reach from rules & assumptions.
The problem is – How do we make creative connections if our minds are full of existing patterns.
Our ‘pattern recognition machines’ (minds) mean that new combinations (thinking laterally and being creative) when identifying solutions is often difficult.
There is a difference between ‘logical’ and ‘lateral’ thinking. Neither is good or bad; better or worse. One is not necessarily more successful than the other. But they are different and you need different tools/techniques during a Lean Six Sigma project.
Most of us have a preference for the logical. But that preference doesn’t mean we can’t be creative thinking laterally. It’s a skill which can be learned.