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Travels as a Master Black Belt

I've been very lucky to travel the world as a Six Sigma Master Black Belt.

Mexico: I was responsible for the Design for Six Sigma program for Chrysler's Engineering team in Sante Fe, Mexico City. I would travel to the international airport, catch a "retained" cab, one where you paid the fare upfront. I was hoping this meant they were in some way vetted for safety and away I would go for an hour plus drive to my hotel in Sante Fe. I vividly remember the smells of exhaust and city life (restaurants preparing meals, garbage, sometimes earth as we past parks) around the airport as we drove.

I made some very close friends here and shared many hours eating and drinking with them.

I later returned to restart the Operational Excellence program, for GM Mexico, as it was struggling due to lack of energy and executive support. This was so easy. The people in Mexico City are smart, team oriented and understand passion. When you bring them a logical case of what to do, demonstrate what success looks like and form a relationship with the leaders, it just works.

This is from a restaurant in Polanco, Mexico City. A warm and beautiful night after a rain.


My mother's family is German. My great grandmother immigrated to the US in 1882 from what was then Prussia. She was born in Berlin.

I have a German language minor from my first degree. But, until 2014, I had never gone to Germany. Two weeks after I joined General Motor's OpEx organization, I received a text from my boss on a Saturday.

"Do you have a valid passport?"

Me - "Yes" I replied. My boss was never too much for details. Need to know only.

"The VP and CFO are going to Germany on Monday. He wants you to go."

Me - "Awesome. How do I get the plane tickets? I just got a company credit card. I don't know how to set up a trip."

"VP's admin will set it up. Reach out to her online."

And on Monday afternoon, I was on a plane headed to Germany.

I got there and asked the VP if he chose me to go because I speak some German. He was so happy. He didn't know that I did... ;)

Over the next 18 months, I was in Germany about half my time for two to three week sprints. I set up the OpEx program, networked with Opel's CEO, CFO, COO, VPs, etc... I taught all 300 executives an overview of OpEx and mentored them to create a deployment plan. Taught hundreds of people a weeklong class. Coached projects, set up and trained a group to coach, they became self-sufficient. We saved the company about 200M Euro.

I will say that the beer and food in Germany is incredible. I am biased of course, because my mother served me German food as I was growing up.

Their work-life balance is something I greatly appreciate. And, after you prove yourself, speak some German with your team mates, you will be surprised how warm and fun they become.


I restarted and re-invigorated the Design for Six Sigma (DFSS) and Operational Excellence (OpEx) program in China for General Motors and their JVs (SAIC and Wuling). I could not have done this without the extremely talented local team in China. They were really outstanding. Hard working and deeply thoughtful.

In about two years, I built a powerful network, identified, trained and installed a DFSS Master to teach, coach and lead project selection with executive leadership. Taught weeklong classes, certified, coached and had a blast!

I was welcomed by everyone in China and treated with great respect. I had some very memorable meals with teams and with my dear colleagues.

In particular was the Hot Pot dinners. Where a boiling pot of was is going in your table, you add spices, mushrooms, onions, etc... and then meat to the pot. Then pull it out and WOW! Amazing.

Shanghai was like any large city in the west. Starbucks on every corner, beautiful architecture, wonderfully kind people. The picture of the bowing red figures, the waterfront with the red/blue tower called the Oriental Pearl is in Shanghai's Bund area.

Liuzhou was where Wuling was located. This was a smaller city. Maybe a tier 2 city?

The pictures with the water light show and Circle bridge are from there.

I've also been to Turino, Italy to start up both OpEx and DFSS programs. This deserves it's own article. You know the food was absolutely amazing. Best red wine on the plant for cheap too.

Japan - was a cultural shift for me. I went there as part of an engineering team developing a world truck. Great people. Cool experiences. Especially, I enjoyed visiting a Buddhist sacred site at Kamakura.

India - the LONGEST trip. Planes, trains and automobiles. It took two days to get to Chennai, India where I spent two weeks. I taught a weeklong class and spent a week coaching.

There is more, of course, for a future blog.

Best, Mike

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