Lean Six Sigma Lean/Six Sigma


When it comes to reducing the cost of complexity, both Lean and Six Sigma methodologies can be employed in a complementary fashion. 

Lean focuses upon maximizing process velocity through the analysis of process flow and delay times.  Emphasis is placed upon eliminating waste – that is the cost associated with non-value added activities and conditions.  The underlying philosophies of Lean originated from the Toyota Production System and are increasingly being adopted by a broad spectrum of industries on a global level.

Six Sigma is a business management strategy that is based on a data-driven philososphy of quality improvement focused upon preventing defects by reducing process variation and waste.  Motorola was one of the first companies to mainstream many of the traditional Industrial Engineering techniques and tools – elevating these statistical-based process control and problem-solving tools from the manufacturing floor to the boardroom.  Today’s business leaders promote the competitive advantages derived from Six Sigma, including improved bottom line results and customer satisfaction.

Depending on a particular company’s vision and implementation, Six Sigma can be viewed as a philosophy, methodology or a set of tools.  Philosophically, all work can be defined as processes that can be Defined, Measured, Analyzed, Improved and Controlled (“DMAIC”).  Generally, all levels of a company are involved and trained to “think statistically” by applying advanced statistical and project management techniques to well-defined projects that have measureable impact upon the organization’s bottom line.


Guidance, Articles  & Tools

 Document Description Comments
A well-organized and compelling presentation by the Army’s Office of Business Transformation’s supporting the position that Lean and Six Sigma methodologies are complementary.
A humorous, yet fairly accurate, example of Lean principles in action.
A little-known, but very useful e-Handbook published online and jointly maintained by the US National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and SEMATECH, a consortium of major semiconductor manufacturers, covering a great variety of statistical tools and techniques – including process control, sampling plans, design of experiments, etc.
An article by Engineered Software Inc. providing a great overview of the use of Repeatability & Reproducibility studies (including GR&R) to understand variability of measurements.
A link to an article published a while ago in Quality Progress magazine providing a framework to decide what methodologies are appropriate for your organization.
MIT Introduction to Lean Six Sigma Methods

Harvard Business Review by Fleming, Coffman and Harter that explores how managing variation within Sales and Service groups can raise overall performance and create organic growth.
A six-part case study discussing Lean process improvements experienced at a prescription medication production facility.  Each session lasts about 10 minutes.

A series of short articles by iSixSigma covering a variety of topics and suggestions for application of Six Sigma strategies.

An article by Jon Miller discussing the origin and explaining how to calculate Takt Time (one of the key principles of Lean).
Q&A on the principles of Operational Excellance provided by Kevin McManus, an Examiner for the Malcolm Baldrige Award.