By Robert Ballard, GPS Consultant.
A former boss of mine would often tell me this little statement and it became invaluable to me and entrenched in my brain. Years ago I was responsible for mentoring Blackbelts and Greenbelts with their respective projects and many times I would report back to my boss as to why improvement ideas couldn’t be implemented, reiterating what the Blackbelts were telling me. He was just smile and tell me “Don’t let facts and realities blind you from solutions.” Here I was trying to guide others in the utilization of Lean and Six Sigma tools only to get bogged down by the naysayers on the various teams.
We’ve all experienced it. With multiple personalities on the project teams, it never fails, there are always the “yeah, but”, “we can’t do that”, “already tried that 2 years ago”, excuses for not making any changes or conducting trials. It is the classic path to least resistance. If enough people come up with enough excuses eventually the project would fail. Certainly not all teams have this mentality but usually there is someone on the team that wants to shoot down every idea and thinks that it’s all a waste of time and won’t work.
Naturally there are going to be difficulties in making improvements but if it wasn’t important the company wouldn’t allocate the time and resources necessary to make the process better. If it was easy it would already be done and a formal project would be unnecessary. I often tell my students or Blackbelts that I’m mentoring “No one said it would be easy. If it was they wouldn’t need you.”
One of the criticisms of Lean and Six Sigma is that it stifles ingenuity, creativity, and innovation. I couldn’t disagree more with this sentiment. If the process is “optimized” but is still not achieving the desired results then the only way to move forward is to think beyond the current parameters of the process. Precisely the very ingredients required to making a difference in the status-quo thinking is to innovate and recreate. In other words, not letting facts and realities blind you from solutions.
In some cases we must dramatically change how the process works and is designed in order to make a significant change or breakthrough. In the words of Einstein “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.”
The boss that I stole this phrase from is now enjoying retirement at his lake house and his advice has stuck with me throughout the years. It’s amazing how much can be accomplished if we don’t let facts and realities blind us from solutions.
About Robert Ballard:
Robert has worked 19 years in the quality and continuous improvement field with an extensive background in the deployment of Lean and Six Sigma methodologies. He has experience in working in World-Class manufacturing, transactional, sales/marketing, procurement and training and has been responsible for creating motivating environments focused on bottom line results. Over the last several years Robert has conducted Lean Six Sigma Blackbelt and Greenbelt training along with coaching and mentoring belts to achieve their certification. He has worked with major consulting firms such as Six Sigma Management Institute, Datazinc, and Implementation Services.