Categories : Lean Manufacturing Principles Lean Six Sigma


Every business needs to understand the consequences of choosing a Lean or Six !

The question often comes up about which system delivers the best results Lean or Six Sigma? It’s important that every management team understands the consequences of choosing one over the other. Which one should you choose? Which one will deliver the best results?

Six Sigma

Six Sigma

I think the best way to decide is to look at what industry is turning towards to help with their continuous improvement process. A 2010 study conducted by The Avery Point Group did an analysis of the job market to determine the talent requirements in specific industries. What they found was interesting because it really helps companies to focus their resources and seek improvement using the common thinking around the world today. The Avery Point Group found that 35% more companies are seeking people with the talent to apply Lean Principles over Six Sigma. Why is this happening today?

In the current financial crisis that is occurring throughout the global economy many organizations are seeking a cost effective system to help improve their processes. Many business owners understand that if they are not improving, they are simply treading water or drowning. Albert Einstein said “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and expecting a different result.” However, many organizations are stuck in a cycle of  where they are repeating the same destructive behavior.

Lean focuses on identifying and eliminating waste. It is simple to teach and very cost effective. Companies can start to identify “opportunities for improvement” immediately with just a few lean tools in their continuous  improvement toolkit. Using Lean requires a team of employees to conduct a (RIE) or Kaizen event. Typically, these will take between 3 to 5 days to complete and a few weeks to implement the process improvements and sustain them. Lean is an easy, quick and effective system for improving any business process.

Six Sigma is focused on the identification and elimination of variation in a business process. It is a more difficult to teach the tools and implement the system because it requires expensive training to establish a core group of green and black belts. A framework or roadmap known as “DMAIC” is used for Six Sigma project work. This guides the team through the application process. Six Sigma projects will often take longer to complete, which can be several months and sometimes years. Six Sigma, just like Lean can be applied to improve any business process.

When one delves deeper into the Lean vs. Six Sigma discussion there are opportunities for applying both in any industry. We have seen the development of Lean Government, Lean Healthcare, Lean Business Processes, etc. All use Lean and Six Sigma successfully to improve their processes, however Lean is the fastest and more cost effective over the two systems. Ishikawa said “95% of all problems can be solved using the seven quality tools”, and Lean uses these tools just the same as Six Sigma does. I believe that for most companies Lean is the better choice over Six Sigma. It is easy to train their employees about Lean Principles and get them to start improving their own work processes in a fast and cost effective manner. There are many online training courses which help to reduce the cost of Lean training overall. Check out the this site and sign up for their free 30 days access to their online Lean training course called “Lean Awareness”.

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