Industry Headlines

IQPC's Lean Six Sigma Improvement Week Rolls Through Chicago

October 24, 2008
/ Print / Reprints /
/ Text Size+

CHICAGO-IQPC’s Lean Six Sigma Improvement Week transpired September 16 to 19, 2008, at the Hyatt Regency, McCormick Place, in Chicago. Quality Magazine was on hand as attendees crowded the conference to learn the secrets of a speaker panel sharing insights of Lean Six Sigma deployment strategies and providing real-life metrics that spoke to how process improvement programs are making a difference in business performance.

Among the highlights was keynote speaker Dr. Jeffery K. Liker, professor at the University of Michigan and author of a number of books describing the use of Six Sigma methodology at Toyota Motor Corp. In his keynote address, “Toyota Way Insight: Truly Embedding a Lean Culture in Your Organization for Increased Business Performance,” Liker described how Western implementation of Six Sigma methodology has a tendency to fail because of a difference in corporate culture that exists between Eastern and Western business.

Liker asserted that Toyota culture has a “people value stream” that is as much integral as and commensurate to its “product value stream,” meaning that Toyota puts much of its resources into the development of people, with the ultimate goal of developing leaders skilled in Six Sigma methodology.

“Western leaders want quick results; Toyota leaders know that results take time,” said Liker.

At Toyota, according to Liker, learning and employee development are incremental and continuous, and leaders are expected to be self-developing while at the same time coaching and developing others-continuous improvement is completely ingrained in the culture.

Western business leaders, conversely, often make the mistake of implementing a process improvement initiative that begins and ends at itself, and a culture of continuous improvement is never realized. When this approach is taken, Six Sigma methodology often is seen as ineffective, not impacting the bottom line enough to satisfy the desire for quick results.

When confronted by an audience member who brought up that American business, through the years, has had unprecedented success through traditional thinking on the part of its leaders, Liker concurred, but stated that today corporations face new challenges, such as a global marketplace and a scarcity of raw material and energy. To stay competitive, new ways of doing business are imperative, Liker stated, citing the crumbling of the domestic automotive industry as an example.

To learn about IQPC’s 2009 10th Annual Lean Six Sigma & Process Improvement Summit, visit

Did you enjoy this article? Click here to subscribe to Quality Magazine. 

You must login or register in order to post a comment.




Charles J. Hellier has been active in the technology of nondestructive testing and related quality and inspection fields since 1957. Here he talks with Quality's managing editor, Michelle Bangert, about the importance of training.
More Podcasts

Quality Magazine


2014 December

Check out the December 2014 edition of Quality Magazine for features!

Table Of Contents Subscribe

The Skills Gap

What is the key to solving the so-called skills gap in the quality industry?
View Results Poll Archive

Clear Seas Research

qcast_ClearSeas_logo.gifWith access to over one million professionals and more than 60 industry-specific publications,Clear Seas Research offers relevant insights from those who know your industry best. Let us customize a market research solution that exceeds your marketing goals.


facebook_40.png twitter_40px.png  youtube_40px.pnglinkedin_40px.png