“How powerful your tank is, General”
Lean Six Sigma
“How powerful your tank is, General,
It can wipe out a forest,
It can crush a hundred people.
But it has one flaw:
It needs a driver.”
In this anti-war poem, German poet and playwright Berthold Brecht expresses his concern about the consequences of war. But he also emphasizes an important human element. What use is a tank without a driver?
Humans who know how to use tools effectively!
In the 90’s, at the very beginning of my professional life, I had encountered Excel for the first time. I had previously used Lotus as a spreadsheet program and was very impressed with Excel’s capabilities. Brecht’s poem came to mind, and I said: “Excel, what a powerful tank!”. However, I couldn’t use many of its features, so I got some training and improved my Excel skills. Still not enough. I heard similar things from my colleagues. How many percent of what you can do in Excel can you actually do? The little flaw that Brecht pointed out was also true of Excel: “Humans who know how to use it effectively!”
Excel has improved a lot over the years. But even today I often hear the same expression in the business world: “Very few people use it effectively.”
Do You Really Need People?
Over the years, many new tools have been added to the business world. For example, the statistical software we use in Lean Six Sigma training, Minitab. Another powerful tank. Or AI and machine learning, which we hear about more and more. The claim for the last two is that they will make humans obsolete. Is this claim true, will there really be no need for humans?
I think the answer is simple. On the contrary, the need for people who can use these tools effectively will increase. I don’t know what’s going to happen in 30 years, but that’s what we’re seeing in the business world today. Companies want to implement and use all these tools. Their main obstacle is the lack of skilled people who can understand and use these tools and systems.
Through Lean Six Sigma, we develop project leaders who have strong problem-solving skills and can solve complex problems and algorithms. Their training is based on mathematics and statistics. Data science, data analytics, machine learning, Phyton, R, AI too, they all work with algorithms based on mathematics. So math and statistics are at the heart of them. For companies that have established a Lean Six Sigma infrastructure and have enough project leaders, it will be very easy to deploy these tools and make them work because of the very strong foundation of math and statistics.
In the next few years, the major factors that will determine the competition between companies will be how effectively they can use tools and systems such as AI, data science, data analytics, and machine learning. The new tanks are really powerful, but the weaknesses are still the same: “they need qualified people to use them, the human factor”. Today, the most important resources that can fill this gap are the black and green belts, trained in the Lean Six Sigma program. But well trained.