What is Lean Six Sigma ?

I have previously written about the Lean methodology and how it has influenced the world by its principles.

While the Lean methodology has a great influence in the process improvements initiatives in an organization overtime, the Lean methodology has evolved into Lean Six Sigma.

But what is the Lean methodology ?

Lean is a methodology that was created by the Toyota Production System. It can be described as a methodology that helps in the identification and elimination of waste.

What is Six Sigma?

Six Sigma is a methodology that was developed by Motorola. It was originally created to identify and eliminate process errors.

Six Sigma is focused on the identification and elimination of anything that causes variations in the process. When those variations are removed, the predictability of the process results would be greatly improved.

So what is Lean Six Sigma ?

The Lean and Six Sigma methodologies were combined into a single methodology because the two methodologies compliment each other.

Lean and Six Sigma both have similarities which include the following :

  1. They are both focused on process improvements.
  2. They both identify the root cause of the process problems in order to improve those processes.
  3. They both try to fix the identified process problems.
  4. They both create a continuous improvement mindset.

But there are some differences between the two methodologies and they include the following :

  1. Lean focuses on waste while Six Sigma focuses on process variations.
  2. Lean uses visual techniques while Six Sigma uses statistical techniques to improve processes.
  3. Lean uses a value stream map as its main documentation while Six Sigma uses setup procedures and a control plan for its documentation.

So what is Lean Six Sigma ?

Lean Six Sigma, just like the Lean methodology is a process improvement methodology which was created to eliminate problems, remove waste and inefficiencies, and improve working conditions in order to provide a better response to the customers’ needs.

It combines the tools, methods and principles of both the Lean and Six Sigma methodologies into single powerful methodology which is used to improve the organizational operations.

Lean Six Sigma is built around a team-oriented approach which has resulted in improving efficiency and the profitability of the organization.

Lean Six Sigma has three distinct components, which are:

  1. Tools and techniques: Lean six sigma has a complete set of tools and techniques that are used to identify and solve problems.
  2. Process and methodology: Lean six sigma uses problem-solving tools to identify the root cause of the problems and identify a solution that would be used to resolve those problems.
  3. Mindset and culture: The Lean six sigma mindset is a way of thinking that depends on data and processes to achieve operational performance goals and continuously improve those processes.

These three elements work together to improve the organizational business processes. The tools and techniques would be ineffective unless there is a process for applying them and a mindset of continuous improvement creates the need for process improvements .