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Do more with LSS

After reading the article on the study of lean Six Sigma (LSS) deployment in healthcare ("Get Your Checkup," August 2009), I was not totally surprised to discover the number of healthcare organizations with little or no deployment was high.

The first obvious problem—and one that also exists outside the healthcare industry—is leadership commitment, followed by supervisor support. All too often, managers attend workshops on LSS, and then experiment with projects that on occasion can produce great results but, for the most part, achieve marginal results.

Consequently, the people at various levels in the organization lose interest, and the culture does not change. If the LSS projects are not focused on the process constraints, then you can expect marginal results.

I work in the aerospace maintenance and overhaul industry, with business needs to dramatically increase throughput and quality. Our mission and processes are relatively similar to healthcare in that we bring the patients (helicopters) back to health in the fastest, most cost-efficient system we can develop.

Our previous team started with isolated lean and Six Sigma events with little employee involvement and actually made things worse. More recently, our new team integrated LSS solutions within the framework of the theory of constraints, included critical chain project management and focused on implementing employee-generated solutions.

Results include cutting our cycle times nearly in half, increasing yield quality by more than 12% and improving throughput by 44%. Workforce morale has improved, and we won the 2009 Shingo Bronze Medallion. Healthcare organizations would benefit from a similar approach.

Alex Fedotowsky
LSS Master Black Belt
Army Fleet Support
Fort Rucker, AL

Sold out

Perhaps I have fully transformed into a grumpy old man, but I grow increasingly concerned by the amount of time and energy I see ASQ spending on the generation of articles and studies that tell us how to sell quality to upper management.

Has the quality profession become that marginalized? Do other professionals—such as IT people, engineers and project managers—need to devote most of their waking hours to convincing someone they add value?

If we need to spend our time avoiding being shoved aside, then perhaps we have failed miserably as a profession to innovate and add true value to our organizations.

Paul Ipolito
Quality engineer
SPX Process Equipment
Rochester, NY

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