I’ve been following Forrest Breyfogle for some time. You may know that he came out with a couple of the definitive text books for the Six Sigma DMAIC process several years ago. I have a couple of them on my shelf.

In the last few months, I’ve bumped into Breyfogle at a couple of conferences and he is onto something really important. At the risk of oversimplifying it, he has come to realize that Six Sigma and Lean Six Sigma are, in and of themselves, too narrow in scope. All too often DMAIC projects fix one thing and break something else, and seldom do you find links from individual projects to ultimate business performance.

This is made worse because these process improvement efforts are mostly divorced from the implementation of business dashboards and scorecards. Furthermore, strategic goals are too often created in a vacuum at an executive retreat with little connection to customers and their real needs. (Six Sigma guru’s may be harrumphing in the background, but please, go read his website. There’s a lot of truth in his words.)

Breyfogle proposes an Integrated Enterprise Excellence (IEE) system that helps organizations execute the Three ‘Rs’ of Business: Doing the Right Things, doing them Right, at the Right Time. You can read more about IEE at his website and blog.

You find IT (information technology) and the CIO (Chief Information Officer) at the heart of IEE. Breyfogle “gets” the role of the CIO and IT in continuous improvement. He has a great white paper on this topic, and his latest blog post touches on it.

I haven’t had time to see how far Breyfogle takes his prescription for what IT needs to do to enable business excellence. What I’ve read so far seems very consistent with our customer’s experiences and my vision for how data and IT can – in Breyfogle’s words – “be the catalyst for new improvement initiatives.” It is also consistent with the research we’ve seen out of the Aberdeen Group on the role of real-time data in manufacturing excellence.

Breyfogle thinks he may be on to the “Next Big Thing”, and he may be right. I intend to keep my eye on it.