Letters to the Editor For June 2009

May 17, 2009
Six Sigma debate continues

Six Sigma Benefits Health Care

>Re: "Six Sigma's Growing Pains," May 2009

Saving Health Care

I liked your "Six Sigma's Growing Pains" article but strongly differ with George Haley's comments about applying Six Sigma to health care: "Six Sigma should stay out of hospitals and stay out of any business where you have human-to-human interaction."

He's not looking at the big picture. Six Sigma is perhaps the only thing that will save health care and therefore literally millions of lives are potentially dependent upon it as hospitals are being forced to shut down, turn away patients and delay critical equipment purchases, while patients turn down insurance due to rising costs. Sure, any discipline can be misapplied and hurt people as a result, but the health care industry is very tightly regulated so any application of Six Sigma must be within that context (i.e. safely implemented given team-oriented consideration of all reasonable risks).

Kim Niles
Quality Consultant
San Diego, Calif.

Six Sigma has been established in health care as a viable and profitable process improvement methodology. Our organization has found over $5 million in revenue from projects in a 403-bed community hospital in under four years. More importantly, processes such as lab and radiology tests, catheterization procedures, patient flow, specimen identification and the prevention of patient falls are all benefitting from Six Sigma.

Additionally, every business has some form of human-to-human interaction. To say that Six Sigma shouldn't apply to any business other than manufacturing is rubbish. Financial, hospitality, IT, government and many other industry types have benefitted from the methodology.

Brit Watts
Director, Operations Excellence
Bay Medical Center
Panama City, Fla.

Performance, Not Quality

I would just like to congratulate you for publishing an article that criticizes Six Sigma.

With respect to George Haley's recent comments and some letters you've received from Six Sigma zealots, to call Six Sigma a quality failure would be an understatement. What many consultants do not realize is Six Sigma only relates to performance, and not to quality. In fact, the latter is the subject of a forthcoming article soon to be published on Onesixsigma.com. One only has to consider what has happened in the financial industry recently to realize there has been considerable quality neglect in that field; not to mention the dire quality of many U.S. automobile companies.

Andy Urquhart
Cambridge, England

Get Rid of the Taxes

Re: "Just in Time -- Manufacturing is not an Ideology," April 2009

The simple reason "We The People" are in this financial disaster is because for over 27 years we have been running trade deficits and current account deficits to the tune of many trillions (when added, upward of $62 billion a month). Suck this kind of money out of the economy every month and there is no wonder Americans and businesses are leveraged up the flag pole. It would take upwards of $20 trillion just to replace the capital base of the country back to 1981 equilibrium.

Our own government was -- and is -- at fault for not recognizing this as a problem early on. China is run by engineers. We are run by lawyers. Now couple our government representatives' inability to focus on real issues with both eyes, instead of keeping one on their personal job (i.e. the next election), you have the mixture for very short-term myopic decision-making and the situation in which we now find ourselves.

So, here is what our federal government should do immediately: Eliminate all (and I mean all) federal taxes on any and all companies that manufacture here in the USA . . . and not for one year, but for many decades. Business people employ people. Business people create good-paying jobs that pay taxes that allow government workers to get paid. If we eliminate federal income taxes on manufacturing, companies will relocate their production facilities here.

Remember in Econ 101 the "rollover effect of the dollar in the economy?" Well, everyone buying at Wal-Mart or buying foreign-manufactured goods only provides a 1.5- to 2.5-times rollover effect for all that stimulus dollar and then it is gone, off to the Bank of China. Create manufacturing jobs and we'll have the stimulus dollars around a lot longer -- a six- to nine-times rollover effect and the loss in federal tax revenues from corporate taxes on those manufacturing companies will be very, very small when compared to the huge increases in W-2 wages withheld and going immediately in the government's coffers from all the Americans being employed.

Manufacturing and manufacturing incentives are the only way out of this financial mess. The last thing we need are more lenders and bankers, stock boys, burger flippers and/or Wal-Mart shopping cart collector-type jobs. None of these will feed our insatiable desire for the American Dream.

J. H. Warren
Warren Industries Inc.
Philadelphia, Pa.

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