Remembering Randy Bohannon
Author: Russ Aikman
Posted: January 2020
This month marks the third year since the passing of my friend and TMAC colleague Robert ‘Randy’ Bohannon (1944-2017). Much more than just a coworker, Randy was also a mentor and guide, a voice of reason, a steadying influence, and a student of human nature. He passed away on January 5th of 2017 after a 2 ½ year battle with cancer.
Randy grew up in El Paso and got a degree in physics and math from The University of Texas at El Paso. He worked in information systems for many years and later got into consulting where he was especially adept at strategic planning. From 2006 to 2008 we worked very closely in teaching Lean Six Sigma classes. Prior to that we worked on other TMAC efforts, including assisting firms in implementing ISO 9000 quality management systems.
Here are some of the things which I remember about Randy:
- A Sense of Humor – Randy enjoyed a good joke, laughed often, and could always see the humor in any situation. While he was serious about work he didn’t take himself seriously. A big guy, he would introduce the two of us to each new group of LSS students by saying, ‘This is Russ and I’m Randy. He’s Lean and I’m Six Sigma.’ I also recall him saying, ‘If work isn’t a little fun it’s just a damn job.’
- Preparation is Key – Randy was the most organized person I’ve ever worked with. He always set aside time to prepare – whether for a LSS class, a customer meeting, or a strategic planning session. Early in his career he learned the importance of effective time management. Hence, he was very good at focusing on CVA activities and not wasting time on NVA activities.
- Let the Data Tell you a Story – He used this phrase often in our Lean Six Sigma classes. Randy emphasized the importance of using process data to reach conclusions, and not to use hearsay or opinion. He was very aware of the rumor mill, and its sometimes toxic effect on an organization. He lived this mindset in his work with companies, always insisting on hard data. After his diagnosis of cancer he went so far as to track his own health vital signs using control charts. Think about that for a minute.
- One Secret to Life: The Right Tool – Randy was an avid woodworker. I think he found solace from the stress of the workday in making something with his hands. And he knew from experience that solving a specific problem – whether in woodworking, in an office process, or on the factory floor – is easier with the right tool. He always emphasized not only what each LSS tool or method would do, and the expected benefits, but when it was appropriate.
- Remember Who Pays the Bills – Back when Randy worked in IT he was chief information officer for a large clothing manufacturing company. One day several of his staff were grumbling about the number of complaints from users. One of the programmers went so far as to say, ‘If we didn’t have to deal with these users this job wouldn’t be so bad.’ Randy got his entire staff up and marched them to a room with windows looking out on the factory floor. Workers were busy making shirts, pants, and other items. ‘See those people,’ he said, ‘They pay your salary. And don’t you ever forget it.’
Words for us all to live by. Truly one of a kind, and a very special person. Rest in peace, my friend.
More about Russ Aikman:
Russ is the LSS Program Manager at TMAC, and started the program in 2003. He is a Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt with over 30 years of experience working in a wide variety of industries, and with small firms up to Fortune 500 companies. He has taught dozens of LSS classes from Yellow Belt up to Master Black Belt. He has also coached hundreds of LSS practitioners on their projects and advised managers on their LSS program. Before joining TMAC he worked at George Group, the first firm to integrate Lean and Six Sigma.