Lean Six Sigma is a managerial concept combining Lean principles and Six Sigma methodologies that results in the elimination of wastes and provision of goods and service at a rate of 3.4 defects per million opportunities. The main emphasis of Lean is on cutting out unnecessary and wasteful steps in the creation of a product so that only steps that directly add value to the product are taken.
The concepts of this method were first published in the book titled “Lean Six Sigma: Combining Six Sigma with Lean Speed” by Michael George in 2002. A popular methodology known as DMAIC is also utilized under the principles of Lean Six Sigma.
Critical to Quality (CTQ) characteristics are the bases for the Sigma projects, waste elimination projects and the Six Sigma projects. The DMAIC toolkit of Lean Six Sigma is comprised of the same tools utilized in Six Sigma.
The goal of Six Sigma and Lean is essentially the same. Both seek to create the most efficient system possible by eliminating wastes, but they take different approaches. The main difference between Six Sigma and Lean is in the way the root cause of waste is identified.
Under traditional Six Sigma, it is believed that waste results from variations within the process. Lean Six Sigma practitioners believe that waste comes from unnecessary steps in the production process that do not add value to the finished product.
Under Lean methodology, the way to determine if something has value is if the customer is willing to pay for it. If a part of the production does not add value, it is simply removed from the equation. This leaves only streamlined and profitable processes in place that will flow smoothly and efficiently.
There is no doubt both of these methodologies are successful in improving overall business performance in a variety of fields. In fact, these two disciplines have proven to be especially successful when working in combination – which has led to the creation of Lean Six Sigma.