Here starts your personal improvement

I tell you one little secret about you personal effectiveness:

** It starts with Recognizing the Problem **

If I talk with you about Lean and Six Sigma and tell you that you can solve problems with applying certain tools in a very logical, measurable way, I may waste my time and yours talking about it.


Because you would say that you don not have a problem. Full stop.

So if you want to improve your personal performance and effectiveness and those reporting to you, it all starts at RECOGNIZING the PROBLEM.

In my experience this is a very hard thing especially for managers because they might feel judged by the fact that they have un-solved issues.

… but what is a PROBLEM?

In my vocabulary, I talk about a problem when


You could call it a Challenge, or whatever. The key is that there is a *gap* between what your getting versus what you would like to get.

In the above-formula I mention the customer. You should read this in a broad sense: customer is everyone impacted by the output of your process. So customer can be your boss, the external customer, your colleague from the next department, etc. It is absolutely not common to recognize the supplier-customer relationship in anyone’s daily work but if you do, you will set yourself appart from the 99% of the crowd and start excelling in performance and effectiveness.

So if you want to improve performance – and you do want to improve otherwise you would not read this article – first you have to realize the GAP between what you deliver now and what you customer would like to receive.

A short remark here about a basic principle of Lean Manufacturing: PULL instead of PUSH. This applies here as well:

if you do not find the problem (the gap) you will still PUSH your stuff to your colleague instead of finding out what he/she really would like to get from you (PULL).

Let me give you my personal example:

I used to be a Management Accountant responsible for internal reporting about the performance of the company. I was kind of a wizzkid with data bases and ODBC drives and integration of different application to get all sorts of management reports out of the system.

I was really excited about and I was creating one after the other distributing them automatically into the email inbox of my colleagues on a weekly bases.

Fantastic! Not exactly…

Those excellent reports were being produced with my own intentions and with my own interpretation of the situation. Those reports (read: my output) were pushed to my colleagues (read: my customers) with the result of being discarded and deleted and thrown away (read: waste).

When I realized the problem (read: gap between what I deliver vs. what my customer wants) I could start working on improving the situation and finding out what information my colleagues were looking for.

So think about YOUR gap in your performance:

– look at your current performance

– talk with your customers

– find out what are they requirements

– dare to be honest with yourself…

…and start closing the gap.

Warm regards,


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2 Responses to Here starts your personal improvement

  1. Kitti Rangsigutta says:

    I am a clod for lean six sigma.As studied from a book named manufacturing analysis for productivity and quality/cost enhancement Norbert L. Enrick ISBN 0-8311-1146-1 printed i 1982 and APO book 1986 Introduction to Quality Engineering by Genichi Taguchi about The Loss function, how I can find the right tools for lean six sigma start up.

  2. Peter Herku says:


    I had the same problem. After weeks of training in Lean Six Sigma I got so much info on tools and methods that I did not know where to start and what I needed.

    Based on my experience with some very effective tools applied at different companies, I have collected a small set of tools that can solve both Lean and Six Sigma problems. Not all of them but 80%.

    I describe those tools in my book, Profitable Empowerment, which is available now.

    Most importantly, you should follow the DMAIC roadmap of problem solving.

    Let me know if you need more advice.