Lean Six Sigma

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Lean Six Sigma

Lean Six Sigma is a world-wide applied, proven approach for process improvement that consists of tools from two very different methodologies, Lean and Six Sigma.

Eliminating Waste with Lean Methodology

Lean has been developed over decades by Toyota and contains a variety of tools tailored to reduce waste in processes.

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Therefore, the objectives of Lean are, among others,

  • Cut of turn-around-time,
  • Reduction of storage costs,
  • Increase of process efficiency,
  • Reduction of work in progress and working capital,
  • Increase of process capacity,
  • Improvement of throughput of goods and services from customer requirement to delivery,
  • Motivation of process stakeholders,
  • Increase in customer satisfaction and
  • Improvement of organisational results

Reducing Variation with Six Sigma Methodology

Six Sigma is a result of Motorola’s successful fight of production problems, resulting in customer dissatisfaction in their TV plants in the 80th and focusses on reduction of the omnipresent variation in processes.

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Therefore, the objectives of Six Sigma are, among others,

  • Reduction of defects and rework,
  • Improvement of quality and process capability,
  • Increase in predictability of process results and reliability of goods and services deliveries,
  • Expansion of process capacity,
  • Motivation of process stakeholders,
  • Increase in customer satisfaction and
  • Improvement of organisational results.

Due to the connection between variation and waste in a bi-directional cause and effect relationship, it made sense to combine the tools of both methodologies into one tool set – Lean Six Sigma.

Hence, looking at both approaches from the perspective of the process, it becomes obvious that Lean has a rather macro view, that shows a process from customer request all the way through to delivery. And, more often than not, Six Sigma has a limited scope to analyse and solve specific problems within the process.

Over more than 30 years, Lean Six Sigma has been contributing to saving billions in dollars of costs as well as to generating additional revenue and income in a variety of organisations in nearly all branches. Because of that, these organisations have been able to improve customer satisfaction and build stronger customer relationships as they turn around their processes in all stages of value creation. At the same time, they have been developing the next generation of leaders for their organisation whilst challenging them with problems to solve, to the benefit of the organisation. Not surprisingly, even governmental ministries and agencies have been able to use this approach to increase customer satisfaction and process efficiency.

Define-Measure-Analyse-Improve-Control (DMAIC)

Whilst the tools within the Lean Six Sigma toolbox stem from both Lean and Six Sigma, the project management approach containing the phases DEFINE, MEASURE, ANALYSE, IMPROVE, CONTROL marks one of the strengths of  the Six Sigma toolbox – the DMAIC cycle.

In addition, a Lean Six Sigma initiative often leads to contributing to strategic objectives. When Jack Welch led the implementation of Six Sigma in General Electric in the 90th, he intended and successfully implemented cultural change for General Electric (See Lean Six Sigma Deployment Q&A).

Situation before
Implementation of Six Sigma

Situation after
Implementation of Six Sigma

Sporadic use of tools and methodologies for quality improvement.Proven approaches and tools for quality improvement are used in a disciplined and consistent manner.
Goods are shipped to customers and quality problems are fixed thereafter (“Ship and Fix” mentality).Goods are shipped defect free in accordance to customer requirements.
Costs of quality problems are unknown or ignored.Costs of quality problems are determined thoroughly and communicated to process stakeholders.
Values, mind-set and behaviour are driven by functions.Values, mind-set and behaviours are process driven.
Business decisions are often based on gut feeling.Business decisions are based on collection and analysis of objective data.

Lean Six Sigma Methodology

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The Lean Six Sigma Methodology consists of five phases and a list of tasks that need to be done in order to complete each of these phases. The phases are:

  • Define – Define the Problem.
  • Measure – Gather Data about Problem and Potential Root Causes.
  • Analyse – Identify Vital Few Root Causes (Xs) that Drive the Problem (Y).
  • Improve – Develop Innovative Solutions to Vital Few Root Causes (Xs).
  • Control – Sustain the Gains Long-Term.

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Lean Six Sigma Training

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Consequently, the Lean Six Sigma Methodology became popular all over the world in all industries to boost productivity, close performance gaps and develop talent. Hence, our Lean Six Sigma training helps build capabilities in this important methodology (see Why should I become a Black Belt). Our Lean Six Sigma training consists of:

  • Senior Management Briefing
  • Awareness Workshop
  • Champion Training
  • Yellow Belt Training
  • Green Belt Training
  • Black Belt Training
  • Design for Lean Six Sigma Training
  • Master Black Belt Training

Furthermore, some of our training packages include certification and coaching.

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Lean Six Sigma and Data Analytics

Most noteworthy, one of the strengths of Lean Six Sigma is its powerful data analytics toolbox, because data analytics can be helpful in many situations. In Lean Six Sigma, the applications for data analytics include

  1. Ensuring the capability of the measurement system, i.e. repeatability and reproducibility of measurements,
  2. Cleaning the measurements after collection, i.e. detection of unusual observations like alleged outliers,
  3. Calculating process performance, i.e. process capability, process yield,
  4. Plotting data for detecting patterns in data before confirming or rejection of pattern-driven hypotheses with statistical tools,
  5. Testing hypotheses about the relationship between problems (Y) and potential root causes (X),
  6. Confirming the improvement of a process or situation after implementing adjustments.

As a result, a large variety of tools is available for Lean Six Sigma practitioners. The selection of tools for a given data analytics task depends on the overall objective, the source and types of data given. Depending on the data in X and Y, regression analysis or hypothesis testing help answer the question whether there is a relationship between problem and alleged root cause. However, these tools do not take away the decision, but they tell the risk for a certain decision. The process owner is still the one making the decision.

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Our Value Proposition

Finally, our consulting team brings with them experience in implementing medium and large scale Lean Six Sigma programmes as well as in strategy, organisation and people development and management projects.

Consequently, we enhance the skills of your people so as to empower them to successfully continue and apply the tools and methods learned into the future. Hence, we transfer our knowledge to your people throughout our relationship. Your learning is part of the project. “Success” = Results + Skills Transfer