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About this lesson
Lean and Six Sigma are easily blended. They have many similarities in methodology – process focused, team based, and project management. The differences, analyzing quality data versus flow data, are complementary and together provide a balanced view of the process.
Lean and Six Sigma
Lean Manufacturing and Six Sigma are easily blended. They have many similarities in methodology – process focused, team based, and project management. The differences, analyzing quality data versus flow data, are complementary and together provide a balanced view of the process.
When to use
Use Lean Six Sigma whenever conducting a process improvement project and the problem is not already extremely obvious (such as the manufacturing equipment is broken and won’t work). This methodology can be used with any business process, not just manufacturing.
Lean Manufacturing and Six Sigma are totally complementary and can be easily blended. In fact, by blending them the process improvement team will obtain a more complete and balanced view of what is happening in the process. For ease of project management, some aspects of one or the other methodology are adopted, but in most cases the tools and techniques from both methodologies are used.
With respect to basic project management, the Six Sigma approaches of DMAIC and “Belts” are used. When mapping the process, the Lean Manufacturing of Value Stream Mapping is often used. The value definition practices of the two approaches are virtually identical, and these attributes of value are normally documented in the Six Sigma CTQ format.
With respect to problem definition, data collection, and data analysis, both methodologies are used. Depending upon the nature of the problem, one methodology may predominate, but most projects will include both elements of flow optimization and defect reduction.
With respect to solution planning, the Lean solutions are used when the problem is a flow related problem and the Six Sigma solutions are used when the problem is a defect problem. If the problem is a combination of both issues, the tools from both methodologies are used.
Finally, with respect to the implementation, we again find both methods contributing. In many cases the “To-Be” Value Stream Map from Lean Manufacturing is used to explain the changes and train the operators on new process steps while the Control Plan from Six Sigma is used to train the operators and update the business systems for new inspection or control.
Hints & tips
- There is no need to use all of the tools and techniques from both methodologies. Rather use the ones that fit the characteristics of the problem.
- Lean Six Sigma is a problem solving methodology. If there is no demonstrated problem (that means one supported by data) then there is no need for a project.
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PMI, PMP and PMBOK are registered marks of the Project Management Institute, Inc.