Guest Post: The Tone is in the Fingers

Today’s guest blogger is Joe Wilson.  Joe is a great lean thinker that worked for an automotive supplier for several years.  Developing his lean thinking by diving into the deep end.  Joe now works for Tyson Chicken working within their Industrial Engineering group.  I am happy to post his writing here.  Joe is a great lean thinker.

A couple of years ago I decided to try my hand at playing guitar.  I still stink at it, so I can’t give you any shortcuts to musical genius.  I picked up a cheap guitar at the local guitar mart and immediately dug in, making some of the most painful noises in the history of sound.  Realizing I had no idea what I was doing, I harnessed the power of the internet and started searching around for resources, ideas, theories, practices, pretty much anything that would help me be slightly less terrible at this new adventure.  One of the things that stood out to me was how often people were asking questions about how they could sound like their favorite well known artist.  One of the more popular subject for these inquiries seems to be Eddie Van Halen (sort of the Toyota of Tone, if you will.)  The questions would usually end up with a handful of answers or guesses as to what model guitar he was using, what amp or amps he was playing through, or even what pickup model or strings or effects pedals were in the mix and what equipment he was recorded on.  Inevitably the question would always end up with someone saying that his tone comes from his fingers, not his gear.  The truth being that Eddie Van Halen (or anybody else for that matter) sounds like themselves no matter what gear they are playing on and no amount of gear collection is going to make you or me be able to duplicate every nuance of “Eruption” in our basement or the local open mic night.

What does this have to do with Lean?  Pretty much everything.  At one time or another we’ve all asked ourselves What Would Toyota Do?  Or, we’ve borrowed a concept from a book or a colleague or a benchmarking trip without fully understanding why something looks or functions the way it does.  Toyota manufactures cars like Toyota because that’s who they are.  Our companies make our widgets the way we operate because that’s who we are.  That’s not an excuse to avoid change.  It’s a challenge to all of us in the Lean/Six Sigma/Continuous Improvement/Whatever-Name-You-Choose community to understand who we are and what our environment is before we layer things in place that work somewhere else.  Our path should be about chasing greatness in our own world, not trying be like Toyota.

Unless, of course, you are in a Van Halen cover band.  In that case, happy searching.

Posted on November 19, 2010, in Guest Post, Misc and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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