Thursday, September 6, 2007


I recently posted this article to my other blog. Professionally, I am a director of manufacturing and CIP (continuous improvement process) for my company. I do a lot of work in the field of "lean manufacturing" and "six sigma." These methodologies help us solve business problems, etc. Anyhow, here is the article.

This past Sunday the readings for Roman Catholics around the world centered on the theme of humilty.

The pastor of my parish gave an excellent homily on the topic and I wanted to share some of my own thoughts as it relates to the those of us working to make things better for our companies or clients.

Let's start with some words from the Good Book itself.

My child, conduct your affairs with humility, and you will be loved more than a giver of gifts. Humble yourself the more, the greater you are, and you will find favor with God. What is too sublime for you, seek not, into things beyond your strength search not (Sirach 3:17-18,20).

The last sentence initially caused me difficulty since seeking solutions to problems no one has been able to solve (i.e. what lean and six sigma is all about) seems to fly in the face of the recommendation by the Old Testament writer. But after some thought I think what is really being discussed is how we, as leaders of change, should humble ourselves enough to realize that we need others to help us solve problems.

I am guilty as anyone when it comes to the idea that I can do this better than anyone so why not just do it myself. But the thing I am missing is that while this attitude may get us by in the short term I am not building a long term culture of improvement.

On a deeper, more spiritual level, this reading means that we cannot go at life alone. We need the support and assistance of a higher power. For Christians this higher power is the triune God.


Humility does not mean, as some seem to think, we should feel unworthy or weak. Instead, what it really means is that when we run a kaizen event or complete a black belt project we can, and should, celebrate our success. But this celebraton must be tempered in such a way as to say we can still do better. Interestingly enough, temperance is one of the four cardinal virtues.

Isn't it interesting how we sometimes think the philosophies of lean and six sigma are less than 100 years old... when in fact people figured this stuff out thousands of years ago. They even wrote it down in a book! How cool is that?

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