In my initial post on the Six Sigma theme, I provided a brief introduction to the practice. That summary did not extend to Lean Six Sigma, a concept that developed about two decades after the advent of Six Sigma.
Lean Six Sigma is a managerial concept combining Lean manufacturing and Six Sigma that results in the elimination of the eight kinds of waste: defects, overproduction, waiting, non-utilized talent, transportation, inventory, motion, and extra processing (the eight wastes form the acronym DOWNTIME.) At its core, Lean Six Sigma is a process improvement program that combines two ideas:
- Lean: a collection of techniques for reducing the time needed to provide products or services
- Six Sigma: a collection of techniques for improving the quality of products and services, substantially contributing to increased customer satisfaction
Lean Six Sigma concepts were first published inin Lean Six Sigma: Combining Six Sigma with Lean Speed, by Michael George. Lean Six Sigma uses the DMAIC (define, measure, analyze, improve, and control) phases similar to that of Six Sigma. Lean Six Sigma projects typically combine Lean’s waste elimination mandate with Six Sigma’s focus on characteristics critical to quality.
The basic benefits of Lean Six Sigma can be considerable:
- Increased revenues
- Decreased costs
- Improved efficiency
- Effective human resource development
Lean Six Sigma increases an organization’s revenue by streamlining processes, which results in products or services that are completed faster and more efficiently at no cost to quality. Put simply, Lean Six Sigma increases revenue by enabling an organization to do more with less.
Lean Six Sigma decreases an organization’s costs by removing waste from a process or solving problems caused by a process. Waste is any activity within a process that isn’t required to manufacture a product or provide a service that is up to specification. Problems are defects in a product or service that have a capital cost.
Lean Six Sigma improves the efficiency of an organization by maximizing the organization’s efforts toward delivering a satisfactory product or service to its customers, and by allowing the organization to allocate resources or revenues derived from improved processes towards growth.
Finally, Lean Six Sigma facilitates an organization’s human resource development by fostering a sense of ownership and accountability among employees. This increases their effectiveness at delivering results for any improvement project they are involved in.