Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Book Review: Strength-Based Lean Six Sigma

One of the aspects of being a vocal Lean practitioner I enjoy is the frequent request for editorial/book reviews. I find great value in continuously learning.  I want to share a recent review with you.

Strength-Based Lean Six Sigma: Building Positive and Engaging Business Improvement is a valuable and insightful book written by David Shaked.

Most application of Lean Thinking and Six Sigma assume there is a “perfect state” for each. The strength-based approach to process improvement has a different focus. Instead of focusing on what is broken and inefficient, it helps management and staff identify what is already working efficiently and generates value in existing processes and systems. They then define ways to grow and expand those parts and implement good practices everywhere. This focus on the search for and growth of existing efficiency enables new ideas to emerge and supports implementation of process improvements by raising confidence and energy levels.

This book starts with a brief overview of Lean and Six Sigma as well as some historical developments that led to the creation of these two popular approaches. Then they build the connection between the two approaches. He shares some ways to apply this thinking at different levels of the organization and improvement initiatives.

In short this book approaches improvement from the value added side of the equation instead of the waste elimination side. I am not sure you can do one without the other however the positive value added approach is powerful.

He organizes his material within five Parts whose titles correctly suggest an on-going process that begins with "Define," continues with “Discover, Dream, and Design,” and concludes with "Deliver/Destiny."

At 230 pages it is a pretty easy read.  There are a number of case studies to reinforce concepts. Each chapter ends with a summary of learning. The book includes a few graphics to support key learnings.

The author claims this book is for business leaders, improvement champions, trained practitioners and facilitators, and consultants. However, there is an assumption that the reader is already familiar or experienced with these methodologies. Strength-based Lean Six Sigma provides ways to bring them together and expand their practice.

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