Saturday, August 13, 2011

More On Gingrich and Lean Six Sigma -UPDATE

I noticed I received some search engine traffic because of a previous post on Newt Gingrich's endorsement of Lean Six Sigma (LSS) for the federal government. I loathe LSS, but I didn't explain why. LSS is a process improvement methodology already widely adopted by the Department of Defense. How could I be against process improvement? I'm not. I'm against a cumbersome bureaucratic approach to process improvement that actually prevents the outcome it purports to achieve. If you applied lean thinking to the LSS formal methodology, you would toss most of it overboard as non-value added, to use the vernacular.

My personal experience is that LSS events always fail to deliver results, but process improvement projects that have a specific goal usually succeed. Why is that? Because one of the Seven Habits is to start with the end in mind. LSS has no particular end in mind, because it is focused on process. But process is only a means to an end, so LSS is doomed to failure.

But of course, it lives on, like some zombie religion that you can't seem to kill off, no matter how many lives it wrecks. Its adherents display all of the personality traits of cult victims, hence KT's hilarious video in the previous post and my tweet that I thought that Newt was a Christian.

KT has a post where he quotes an anonymous industrial engineer at GE regarding LSS and process improvement.
It used to be that I (a trained industrial engineer), in the normal course of my day, would observe quality or process problems and take appropriate action to analyze and correct them. I could often do this very rapidly so that we would enjoy the benefits of the changes immediately. But with the introduction of Six Sigma, such a logical system is no longer possible.

With Six Sigma, if you don't run the gantlet of Six Sigma paperwork (charts, reviews, critiques, etc.) for every little thing, you're wasting your time. You see, now at GE, the litmus test for any employee is Six Sigma credit, a fact that I noticed while completing one of my first Six Sigma projects in order to earn my Green Belt certification.
Read the whole thing.

Exit question: Is Newt really serious about lean six sigma, or is it actually a devious plot to bring the entire federal government grinding to a halt?


In the comments, KT says:
I think Newt read about it or was told about it by some corporate consultant and he fell in love with it. Newt's got lots of great ideas, but since he never does anything, he can't tell which ones will work and which ones are just blather.
We don't need a conservative version of Obama in the White House. Gingrich may have been Speaker of the House, but that was a while ago, and he has never really had an executive leadership position.


  1. Thanks for all the links!

    I think Newt read about it or was told about it by some corporate consultant and he fell in love with it. Newt's got lots of great ideas, but since he never does anything, he can't tell which ones will work and which ones are just blather.

  2. Thanks for taking the time to talk about this. I feel the same way KT does about Newt.

  3. Most people who shun Lean Six are operating with little knowledge of the value these methodologies bring to an organization.

    The problem with Lean Six is that is really requires everyone to be on board with the concept of using these tools. Otherwise the project usually stalls as one or two frustrated managers can make this extremely difficult to move it forward.

    The DoD is struggling to deploy Lean Six. The biggest challenge is almost all the senior leadership fails to attend the training. I see many bright young leaders ready to use these tools but the legacy leadership isn't behind it. Until DoD holds them accountabile to produce results you wont see LSS deploy right. So having a presidential candidate back this stuff is exciting. Maybe we will save trillion dollars. The waste is out there.

  4. Jeep, sorry no sale. I am a senior manager in DoD. Went to the training, funded green belt and blackbelt training for some of my employees. I insisted on the use of the tools for process improvement and it was an epic failure. Further, fellow managers had the same experience. On the other hand, I saved our command millions of dollars annually by redesigning our on-bosrding process. This was done by one guy who was put in charge with no LSS training. He talked to the process owners and fixed it. Not a single artifact of LSS was produced but the savings were real. I refuse to kowtow to a failed religion.

  5. Welcome Newt Gingrich – Candidate for the United States President to the Lean Six Sigma Group.

    I would like to welcome Newt Gingrich as the newest member of the Lean Six Sigma Group.

    Mr. Gingrich supports Lean Six Sigma in helping to remove waste, while at the same time, increasing value in the US Government. He has agreed to an Online and Teleconference call Wednesday August 17th at 8:15pm Eastern Standard Time.

    This will be hosted by the the Process Excellence Network and on the Lean Six Sigma group We will be able to have up to 1,000 Lean Six Sigma members join the call and discussion.

    Please list as a comment 2 things
    1. How can Lean Six Sigma remove Waste and/or Add value to the US Government
    2. Your question to Mr. Newt Gingrich

    * Note: The Lean Six Sigma nor Process Excellence Network group does not endorse any 1 candidate but do support candidates leveraging Lean Six Sigma as part of their solutions and approach.

    When: Wednesday August 17th Lean Six Sigma call at 8:15pm ET:

    Where: register for free at

    Lastly – check out – this is a pledge to save $500B using Lean Six Sigma in the Government.

  6. Who knew six sigma idiots were also comment spammers?

  7. This comment has been removed by the author.

  8. Mr. Bonacorsi lists his occupation as LSS consultant. Then he double spams. Need I say more?

  9. I am curious for an explanation of why LSS fails at DOD, but is very successful in the business world. Why is that the case?

  10. I am not so sure that LSS has actually been successful in the business world. However, within DOD, it has been implemented with a heavy dose of bureaucracy, including numerous forms, reporting and rigid methodologies that require tollgate reviews that don't focus on advancing the goals of the project.
    But I believe that LSS is fundamentally flawed, because it places so much emphasis on listening to your customers prior to getting started with any meaningful improvement. Better to just focus on eliminating waste in the process, rather than fritter away effort on customer focus groups and surveys when they aren't going to add value. Often, we know what must be done to make improvements, then take months to perform an LSS event and dissipate all the energy and focus that could have gone to make improvements.

  11. Stephen Bonacorsi also happens to be a registered sex offender and convicted felon. Google his name + arrest. His Linked-In profile details match.