Lately, there has been many business reviews and discussion on the “war on waste”. The latest is a newsletter from the Las Vegas Lean Institute. Displaying the principles of war from the German general Major General Karl Von Clausewitz extends our “LEAN EYES” far beyond the work place. I thought it would be a good exercise to review all 10 principles to see the correlations with Lean Six Sigma.

First Principle: Objective, Direct all efforts toward a clearly defined, decisive and attainable objective

LEAN SIX SIGMA TEACHING POINT: This sure sounds like the beginning steps for the business case in the Define stage for a black belt project using DMAIC methodology. Establishing your goal and identifying the problem statement is critical. Not only will we need to describe the objective to our sponsor but also other team members to establish and maintain the project’s focus.

Remember that the objective and problem statement requires the following:

  • Exists
  • Important to the customer (Voice of the Customer)
  • Important to the business (Voice of the Business)
  • Reasonably be expected to be improved using Lean Six Sigma DMAIC methodologies
  • Validate financial benefits / impact of the problem, such as the Critical-to-Quality expectations

Just as in war, if the objective/problem is not well defined, the battle or project is in jeopardy of failure. This is why there are many books and tools at our disposal to attack this issue and get it right the first time. One of the ways I try to improve this process to practice writing problem statements for all projects and issues to resolve. The idea is the power of the learning curve; that the 100th time you write a problem statement will be better than the 5th time you wrote a problem statement. I’ve found by changing the “battlefield’ one can take a disadvantage and turn it into an advantage. Such is the case for the problem statement and objective. Hope this helps you in your Lean Journey.

Gary Kapanowski – Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt – Excelsior

The following blog is the opinion of Gary Kapanowski and Contact him directly at It is the sole intent to broadcast this opinion from Gary Kapanowski and exclusively and not to reflect on any other institutions or organizations associated with Gary Kapanowski or

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *