Could Albert Einstein have got it wrong?

Could Albert Einstein have got it wrong?

Could Albert Einstein have got it wrong? … when he said: “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough”.

Lean suggests we have ‘Respect for people’ and consider the process capability and capacity, Six Sigma suggests we also consider process variation, deviation and stability. In root-cause analysis I’d like to suggest we look to our processes before our people because if people fail, either a process failed first or we maybe otherwise suggesting that people deliberately got it wrong. Because I believe that most people go to work to do a good job, the later is extremely rare.

For the quotation to be more accurate and precise, perhaps it (the process) should have included ‘… or it has not yet been clearly defined’.

Now what may fry your noodle is … if indeed the quotation is incomplete, is that simply the fault of the person (Albert Einstein) or the process (formulation of the quotation)?

Keeping the learning process in mind and the simplicity of how children explain what they don’t yet understand my question remains … Could Albert Einstein have got it wrong? … when he said: “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough”. Is this the fault of the child or a fault of the process of learning for that child?


Thoughts anyone?

<<< Update! >>>

It would appear ‘Shigeo Shingo’ and ‘Deming’ both arrived at the same conclusion many years ago.


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Focus on Process

All outcomes are the consequence of a process. It is nearly impossible for even good people to consistently produce ideal results with a poor process both inside and outside the organization. There is natural tendency to blame the people involved when something goes wrong or is less than ideal, when in reality the vast majority of the time the issue is rooted in an imperfect process, not the people.

Examples of Ideal Behaviours

  • When an error occurs, focus on improving the process that created the error.
  • Ensure that all parts, materials, information and resources are correct and meet specifications before using them in a process.”

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Ref: Shingo Guiding Principles – See:

The End



(as at 18th May 2018)

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More About …

Brendon McLoughlin

Brendon McLoughlin is a Technical Project Manager and Lean Black Belt Innovator. Brendon has extensive design and development experience across technology based businesses, product manufacturing and service provider industries, social and not-for-profit organisations.

Brendon has over 20 years of experience within start-ups, SME’s and global enterprises. Brendon continues to build a reputation as a creative lean thinker, innovator, researcher, blogger and evangelist. Brendon’s chosen area of research focuses on 'Rural Innovation' and Capacity, Capability and Competency building and cultivating creative core cultures in small high performance teams from small organisations to realise greater commercial value and social gain.


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