Lean and Six Sigma Coexistence in Business Strategies

Published: 11th March 2010
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Lean Six Sigma has grown out of the idea that the two systems, Lean Manufacturing and Six Sigma, can not simply co-exist, but actually complement one another.

There are various strategies to approaching this "merger". If the issue is difficult and demands very careful classification and study, the DMAIC approach and the Six Sigma statistical methods should be utilized. Depending on the problem, and the method, a VSM, or Lean tool, along with SIPOC and VOC, Six Sigma methodology, can be utilized through the Define stage to grasp the difficulty.

As waste is discovered, the kind and complexity of the issue will determine whether to proceed to comply with a DMAIC strategy for a specific difficulty or whether a Lean Tool is more suitable like a Kaizen Event, 5S execution, production cell, etc. Usually, if the trouble entails organization, insufficient flow or pace of delivery, probably a Lean tool will be used. Lean solutions are meant to be inexpensive solutions; Six Sigma examines solutions according to cost/benefit evaluation.

There exists a distinction in issue solving mind-set. Lean has a "Just do it" technique. An "imperfect Lean Solution is preferable to no solution".

Six Sigma, however, is more methodical and is best made use of for the greater complicated tasks needing thorough evaluation. The "low hanging fruit" are often dealt with a Lean strategy. It never makes sense to take a DMAIC strategy when the ideal solution is evident.

Though both of them are methods for Continuous Improvement, Lean is frequently incremental in nature with small gains adding up over time to great gains, whereas, Six Sigma is a breakthrough method looking to make significant changes to the underlying course of action, resulting in major quantifiable impacts.

While Six Sigma's major focus is defect lowering by decrease in procedure variation, Lean targets waste elimination and flow. However, Lean also uses "Poke Yoke" or mistake proofing to prevent defects. So you can see how they match the other.

Some corporations, allocations are given to Belted staff members to produce numerous Six Sigma tasks and jobs which can be easily dealt with by other means are known as "Six Sigma" to comply with the expectation. I have also seen some large organizations who have a Lean Department and a Six Sigma Department. That separation does not make sense and conflicts can arise. A good Lean Transformation involves all employees, whereas, Six Sigma is often restricted to technical and supervision people.

The mixture of Lean and Six Sigma is incredibly potent. Any issues between the methodologies should be very easily fixed once their exclusive qualities are understood.

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