“What would this look like if it were easy?”
Sometimes I sit in my simple little commuter car and marvel at what a marvel of engineering it is. Thousands of intricate parts work in near perfect harmony to carry me down the road in what is the relative lap of luxury. I’m in awe of the mazes of wiring and interconnected mechanical parts. It’s stunning to me that these many complex parts and systems on top of subsystems can somehow manage to work!
In the world of continuous improvement we can find ourselves falling prey to the temptation to have intricately complex solutions to every problem. We make our forms, our systems, our processes. Controls are put in place to ensure every intricacy of our bouncing baby process is stable, repeatable, and reproducible. As a result, we find that our new process runs well, but the slightest hiccup reduces the entire thing to a smoking crater. Minor variations cause major disruptions.
I’m not going to tell you that complex solutions are bad because they’re not! Complex problems often require complex solutions. We just need to make sure solutions are applied carefully and strategically.
Because Lean Six Sigma is based on respect for our employees, colleagues, and ourselves, we need to create solutions that are as easy as possible, which is why we follow the adage to “Keep it Simple, Stupid!” or K.I.S.S.
Humor aside, it’s the first three letters of that acronym that are really important. We want to keep our solutions as simple as possible. Simplicity in design often means simplicity in implementation. Which means simplicity in practice. Which means effort and expense is low so that labor and money can be spent elsewhere.
As you create new processes or revise old ones remember to ask yourself, “How can I make this simpler?” Or in the words of Tim Ferris, “What would this look like if it were easy?”