The Hidden Gems of Dr. Mikel J. Harry The Story of MindPro and The Great Discovery

MindPro Development History

In 1994 Mikel established the Six Sigma Academy (SSA) with Richard Schroeder. Together they deployed Six Sigma in large corporations such as Allied Signal, General Electric, Ford Motor Company, and Dupont. These were highly successful deployments and spanned through the first three generations of Six Sigma. The foundation of Lean Six Sigma deployment and training was set in these early years.

In 2002, Mikel separated from SSA and started the Dr. Mikel J Harry Six Sigma Management Institute, Inc. (SSMI). Mikel’s first project upon forming SSMI was to develop an online Lean Six Sigma training program which he called "MindPro". Mikel had four objectives he wanted to achieve when he started the MindPro project:

1. Dilution Pollution - This term is what Mikel called, "The watering down of the Lean Six Sigma Training curriculum", which was a source of great frustration to him. Lean Six Sigma training providers were providing what they labeled “Lean Six Sigma Black Belt” training with far fewer hours of training than the 160 hours that Mikel had established as the baseline. When he reviewed the Body of Knowledge for many of these “Black Belt programs,” he learned that they were not teaching hypothesis testing, design of experiments, nor made mention of the Six Sigma Way of Thinking. Mikel felt it was necessary to develop MindPro in order to document the full Body of Knowledge.

2. Variation in Training - Six Sigma was built on the very concept of variation reduction. While researching the extent of Dilution Pollution, Mikel realized that overtime the variation of Lean Six Sigma training had grown significantly. Not just between providers, but from instructor to instructor who were using the same Body of Knowledge. Mikel felt that if he developed MindPro as a self-study model, all candidates would receive the exact same training resulting in a variation reduction in delivery.

3. Document Original and Current Body of Knowledge - Mikel’s last deployment was at DuPont around the year 2000. During this deployment, Mikel changed the Lean Six Sigma paradigm. Mikel called the deployment at DuPont “Lean Six Sigma Generation III”. Mikel recognized that most Lean Six Sigma Belts didn’t know that there had been two previous Generations of Six Sigma and he wanted to document Generation III and compare and contrast it to the first two Generations.

• Generation I was at Motorola in the 1980’s where the focus was on Quality. Mikel described Generation I as being focused on the Customer. Quality in the 1970’s and early 1980’s was quite simply terrible, and the U.S. was getting its tail handed to them by Japanese manufacturing. Motorola was getting hit hard. They would be out of business in five (5) years if they did nothing. There was also a lot of attention on Quality at this time, so the need to focus on Quality seemed obvious.

• Generation II was at General Electric in the 1990’s. This generation started to form at Allied Signal a bit earlier, but GE made it famous. Quality in the U.S. had started to improve. It wasn’t great, but it was starting to become acceptable. Generation II continued to focus on Quality, but the primary focus was on Cost Reduction. Mikel describes Generation II as being a focus on the Provider. This paradigm shift was in large part driven by the MBA Generation of the 1980’s.

• Generation III, as noted earlier, was from DuPont around the year 2000. DuPont wanted more than Six Sigma had delivered in previous deployments. DuPont wanted to focus on Growth through Innovation. Mikel built the paradigm shift for Generation III on what he called the Need / Do Interaction.

The customer had the Need: high quality products, delivered on time where they wanted it, and at a fair cost. The Provider had the Do: capability (ability to create quality), capacity (ability to deliver at the right place on time), and control of the price of the product (focus on cost).

Mikel realized that the more overlap between the Customer’s Need and the Provider’s Do, the more the Exchange of Value there would be. Mikel created a new definition for Quality: “Quality is a state in which both the customer and the provider realize value entitlement in every aspect of the business relationship.”

Mikel further realized that the exchange of value between the customer and provider already had a synonymous term: Business. Mikel declared that Six Sigma had moved from a focus on the Business of Quality to a focus on the Quality of Business. Generation III was quite simply a focus on Business through Growth and Innovation. Six Sigma was no longer a Quality Program or a Cost Reduction Program but rather a Business Improvement Program. Mikel describes Generation III as being a focus on the both the Customer and the Provider. Generation III at DuPont was the last, and therefore, current Lean Six Sigma Body of Knowledge. Mikel decided that MindPro was the place to document it.

• Knowledge not shared with Belts: Mikel was embedded during his Lean Six Sigma deployments. He worked with the members of the Deployment Team to translate the company’s goals and objective into Six Sigma action steps. Mikel only worked with a handful of people at the Business and Operations levels of the organization to develop a cascading structure of actions that lead to the Process level where DMAIC happened. Mikel’s model had always been what became his ICOV Model of RDMAICSI (Recognize, DMAIC, Standardize, and Integrate), but only a handful of people were included in the Recognize, Standardize, and Integrate phases. The primary focus was on training Belts to do projects which were selected from a cascading chain of causation from the Business to the Operations to the Process Level.

We know that as Y = f (X), what Mikel called deterministic reasoning. Belts were taught Y = f (X) in the sense that CTQ’s = f (CTP’s). But Business = f (Operations), and Operations = f (Process) were only known by a handful of people. Mikel called this the BOP Structure. He later added an “I” and BOP became BOPI. Mikel realized that not teaching Belts the BOPI structure created a gap, and that most Lean Six Sigma providers had adopted that gap. Most Six Sigma providers were teaching only DMAIC, which is the Project Execution phase of Six Sigma. but were not teaching the full ICOV Model and likely had no realization that the ICOV Model existed. Mikel felt it was important that he included the BOPI strategy in MindPro so that Belts would have a full understanding of Six Sigma.

4. Project Requirements for Certification: Many Lean Six Sigma providers had begun to require “projects”, as part of the certification process. Projects had always been part of becoming a Lean Six Sigma Belt, but Mikel never actually provided the certification. Certification was provided by the company doing the deployment and project evaluation criteria and requirements were different at each company. Mikel recognized the need for a candidate to display their ability to apply their understanding of the Lean Six Sigma Body of Knowledge and statistics. However, he also realized that third-party training providers had insufficient means to replicate evaluation of projects as had been done at the company level and attempts to do so were suspect at best.

Mikel had seen people, who had done little more than create a Pareto Chart and a Control Chart, being certified, based upon his magic “$350,000 per Project Savings” . On the contrary, others who had done a full-blown project using the entire Lean Six Sigma methodology, were not certified because they did not hit the magic number on a project that was poorly selected and assigned by a “Champion”. Mikel’s solution was to build a Digital Training Project into MindPro requiring all candidates to show their ability to apply their understanding of the Lean Six Sigma Body of Knowledge and statistics on a level playing field.

To summarize, Mikel’s rationale for developing MindPro was to document his Body of Knowledge, Reduce Variation in Delivery of Six Sigma Training, Document Generation III Six Sigma, and Develop a Digital Project for candidates to display their understanding of the Six Sigma Body of Knowledge and statistics on a level playing field.

Why is MindPro just now being revealed on a mass scale?

Mikel put everything he had into MindPro, working long days and weekends, and it took him more than a year to develop. When Mikel completed MindPro, he sold an enterprise license to Research In Motion (RIM), Blackberry. Once he hit this milestone, he was quite simply burned out. At this point in his life, Mikel had spent most of his career traveling and constantly on the road. In fact, there were several years he flew more than a million air miles per year. He was not only burned out from his rigorous work on MindPro, but from the years of hard work and travel he endured bringing Six Sigma to the world. He simply put MindPro on shelf and moved on to his next project.

MindPro sat on that shelf for quite some time. It was taken off the shelf when Mikel decided to donate MindPro to Ball State University and as a result, was introduced to Alan Leduc. Alan Leduc was a professor of Manufacturing Engineering Technology at Ball State University. He used MindPro to develop a Minor in Process Improvement combined with a course in statistics, statistical quality control, and design of experiments. Alan has been through MindPro dozens of times. Therefore, Mikel considered him the foremost expert on MindPro.

Alan personally upgraded MindPro twice to make it more marketable, including today’s MindPro 4.0. He also wrote the case study and workbooks for the Digital Training Project. With Alan’s help, the SSMI team has been able to keep MindPro fresh and current. MindPro is most likely the largest body of knowledge on Six Sigma in the world and is from the co-creator of Six Sigma himself.

You must understand something about Mikel, he never stopped. He had no “off” switch. Even in the burned-out state he was at this time, he had his eye on the next project. Mikel had many profound instances in his career, but there are two of significant proportion to the rest.

The first was when he was working with Jack Welch, CEO, at GE. Mikel and Jack were sitting in Jack’s office one night talking. While they were talking, Mikel asked Jack, “What has Six Sigma done for you?”. Jack replied, “It has allowed me to reach out and touch the control function of the corporation”. Mikel said, “Great Jack, that’s what Six Sigma is designed to do”. Then Mikel asked Jack, “What has Six Sigma not done for you?”. Jack simply answered, “What about my other 95%?”. Mikel heard Jack loud and clear, Six Sigma touches about 5% of the population of the corporation. This includes the belts that are trained, and anyone involved in the Six Sigma deployment. Jack was asking about the other 95% that were not directly involved, and was wondering, “What can we do with them?”. Mikel did not have a solution and told Jack “I don’t know but we are making so much damn money, let’s just keep doing what we are doing.” So that’s what they did, and GE was a highly successful Six Sigma deployment saving billions of dollars.

The second was when Mikel was working at Ford Motor Co. and Jacques Nasser was CEO. Mikel invited Jacques to dinner one night. When Jacques arrived, he asked Mikel, “What do I own the pleasure of having dinner with you tonight?”. Mikel replied, “I just wanted to thank you for that big fat check”. Jacques replied, “I would have doubled it, if you could just teach us how you think”. Mikel did not think much about it at the time, but it stayed in the forefront of his brain.

In fact, Mikel never forgot either of these comments and they gnawed at him constantly. The “other 95%” and “just teach us how you think”. It was clear to him he had to try to “fill the gap.” His solution became what he called “The Great Discovery”.

The Great Discovery was developed to teach the Six Sigma Way of Thinking to Individuals. Mikel’s tag line was that it’s a way to move from “Ordinary Thinking to Extraordinary Thinking” in everything you do. Mikel declared that The Great Discovery was built on the DNA of Six Sigma, but only now we are learning that The Great Discovery and the current commercial Lean Six Sigma model of ICOV (RDMAICSI) are identical models that emulate Mikel’s way of thinking. However, with The Great Discovery, Mikel was able to condense his way of thinking into common words anybody can understand. Mikel spent several years developing The Great Discovery. Unfortunately, another event occurred that prevented Mikel from polishing The Great Discovery and distributing his work to the masses.

Time was catching up with Mikel. He realized he was not getting any younger and it was getting more difficult to keep up the pace he had always maintained. He knew he had to change his focus one last time. At this point, Mikel had developed MindPro and was done with the majority of The Great Discovery.

Mikel knew he had one last big project in him. Mikel decided that ensuring Six Sigma would continue after he was gone was more important for the world than completing The Great Discovery and taking it and MindPro to the masses. The decision was easy for him, he shifted his focus on developing what he called, "An Executive Master Black Belt program", where he hand-selected high-level applicants to reveal his deepest thoughts and future vision for Six Sigma. Even at this stage, Mikel was not willing to reveal all. However, he provided the EMBB’s (there are only 26 in the world) insights that he had never revealed before in hopes that they would take this knowledge, think deeply about it, and expand on it with the purpose of extending the life of Six Sigma for generations to come.

Therefore, virtually nobody knows about MindPro and The Great Discovery. MindPro and The Great Discovery are Mikel’s hidden gems. MindPro has what is essentially, a Hidden Generation of Six Sigma, and The Great Discovery has been hidden from every individual that wants to seek or even consider seeking a Breakthrough Change in their life.

Extending the Legacy of Dr. Mikel J. Harry

Several EMBB’s have taken on the challenge Mikel gave to them when he trained them as Executive Master Black Belts:

Sandra Harry, Chairman of the Board, Six Sigma Management Institute, Inc. was Mikel’s wife and competent in her own right. Sandra is a former CFO and sat by Mikel’s side every day, including all the EMBB’s Classes. Sandra kept the SSMI ship afloat, so Mikel could focus on his work. She continues her mission is to ensure Mikel’s legacy is expanded and to help reeducate the world about the goodness of Six Sigma.

Dumidu Ranaweera, Global Director SSMI-Asia and EMBB #003 built SSMI-Asia into a number one Six Sigma brand in Asia and is extending the SSMI-Brand to several other corners of the world.

Fabrizio Majorana, Global Director SSMI-Europe has been working for many years developing SSMI’s presence in Europe.

Aubrey Jones, Global Director SSMI-Latin America is opening SSMI throughout South and Central America and Mexico.

Cathy Lawson, Chief Knowledge Officer, TGD, worked closely with Mikel on The Great Discovery and has been involved with it from the beginning. Cathy has teamed with Sandra and they are knocking the dust off "The Great Discovery" and putting a shine on it. Sandra and Cathy have been using The Great Discovery to reach their anticipated launch of "The Great Discovery".

Alan Leduc, Global Director SSMI-US and EMBB #0001 worked with Mikel for 15 years. Alan says, Mikel was his teacher (as one of the first MindPro students), his mentor, his research partner, and his friend. Alan’s book Learning to Think… Leadership: Understanding Dr. Mikel J. Harry’s Six Sigma Way of Thinking was just released in January 2020. Alan has served as a confidant and a mentor to Sandra on the journey to fully revealing Mikel’s Hidden Gems.

Don Drury is Managing Director of Larx Advisors, which is a SSMI-US Regional Partner.

Jeff Heslop is a Regional President with SSMI-US.

Walter Miller is a Regional President with SSMI-US.

Nine of the twenty-six, EMBBs are directly involved in SSMI, helping to extend the legacy of Dr. Mikel J. Harry. It is clear, Mikel’s change of focus in his final years, was a wise one. The EMBB’s that committed to extending Mikel’s legacy are on the verge of a Breakthrough in doing just that. The coming months and years are going to breed excitement and put new breath into The Six Sigma Way of Thinking, which is really Dr. Mikel J. Harry’s Way of Thinking.


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