My newest Audible adventure has been with the book “Winning,” narrated by the author, Jack Welch. This one has really sucked me in – it’s especially appealing to me how he boils down complex management concepts into terms that are easy to understand. One of those concepts is GE’s “Six Sigma” practice, which is all about decreasing product variations.
The specific example he gives to demonstrate Six Sigma (the moniker refers to the lowercase Greek letter sigma ‘σ’ – the symbol statisticians use for Standard Deviation), is about a manufacturer delivering three loads of products. They deliver the first load after 3 days, the second after 13 days, and the third after 7 days. After enacting Six Sigma, the manufacturer delivers all three loads on exactly the 10th day – decreasing variation and using rigid processes help cut costs. Also, even though 2 out of 3 product loads actually arrive later, the consistency of always delivering on the 10th day actually increases customer satisfaction.
This concept of consistency is one that I think applies to personal life as well. Good things and bad things happen to all of us, but in order to avoid depression I think it is equally important to avoid mania. In the long term, satisfaction and mental stability are best achieved by maintaining an even keel temperament (not too happy, not too sad) rather than riding the roller coaster of unrestrained emotion. Perhaps this means never summiting the mountain of joy after a big win – but if it also means avoiding the depths of depression, I’d call it a fair tradeoff.