Black Belt

Do you even use minitab

Do you even use Minitab..?

By Black Belt, Lean Six Sigma, Minitab, Tools

We recently redesigned our Black Belt course and we’re pretty pleased with the results and are getting some great feedback from delegates.

One of the major drivers for this work though was to weave MS Excel throughout the course.

If you’ve ever completed a Lean Six Sigma Black Belt course then you were probably taught some statistical analysis using a software system called Minitab.

And chances are – especially if you work in service industries – that you’ve never ever used Minitab ever again.

Every time I ask a Black Belt if they use Minitab – the answer is always no. I think there are 2 main reasons for this:

  1. It’s expensive. It currently costs £1,030 for a license.
  2. It’s technically excessive for what you need.

I have run 100’s of improvement projects, most with some sort of statistical analysis involved. All of which was more than easily handled by MS Excel. Control charts, paretos, histograms, normal distributions, Design of Experiments – all handled perfectly well by MS Excel.

Granted, Minitab is a superior product. But superior isn’t always better. Kinda like how an articulated lorry is a better transport system than a van, but completely excessive if all you need to transport is a dozen bricks, right?

So what’s the point of learning about a good software package that you’ll never really need and never get the opportunity to use again?

I can’t think of a good answer to that.

Especially since MS Excel has made giant strides in terms of its capability. (Did you know in the 2016 version you can quickly and easily do histograms & box plots?)

So we took the decision to teach all the statistical elements of great Lean Six Sigma Black Belts and illustrated them with MS Excel. Better still, we’ve built templates for everything. You should see our Hypothesis Tester that Jason built – it’s pretty amazing.

What do you think? Are you a devotee of Minitab or do you use MS excel for all your analytical needs?

Service The right tools for the job

Service: The right tools for the job!

By Black Belt, Lean for Service, Lean Training

In recent times, I’ve found myself spending increased time training service sector individuals in Lean Six Sigma methods as opposed to on the job coaching. This presents a great opportunity to really underpin some of the methods and tools with knowledge and understanding but it did start me thinking….

Are we teaching them the right tools for the problems they will encounter?

To try and answer this question I found myself thinking back to my Yellow, Green and Black belt training and the tools and methods I had being shown. I decided it would be a good idea to re-acquaint myself with all the material, if only to validate the knowledge was still there lodged in my brain awaiting recall (It’s worth noting that for large parts of this I had a very large folder with lots of notes in front of me).

I failed miserably! I was able to recall around 70% of the knowledge but the other 30% was gone. How could I have forgotten that section about DoE response surface designs or that Box-Cox method for transforming data to a normal distribution…?!

The conclusion I reached was interesting….

The reason the 30% isn’t in there is because I’m not using it!

Wow. Could it be possible that nearly a third of what I have learned has been of so little use to me that I erased it from memory? Or should I be applying more of this in the work I do?

Reflecting on my improvement performance, I can honestly say that much of my training was of little use to me.

So why am I not using this 30%?

Simple. I’ve been working in service all this time but the training I’ve undertaken has been Lean Six Sigma training. Let me elaborate.

Lean and Six Sigma both have their roots in manufacturing. Over the years these methods have been brought into service and along with it the training of these methods. However, the training has struggled to evolve away from its roots to the extent that around a third of what I was shown is simply not required in Service-based improvements.

And so, what does this mean….back to our original question

Are we teaching them the right tools for the problems they will encounter?

Answer: No, not in a service context

The great thing about arriving at this space is that I’m not on my own. At Lean Consulting, we’ve recognised this and looked to do something about it, to the extent that we have designed what we believe to be the first real Lean Six Sigma Black Belt that focuses exclusively on Service.

Hopefully we can start to better equip individuals with the right tools for the job when solving problems in services.