Why Integrate Lean and Six Sigma into Lean Six Sigma?

April 12th, 2012

Tags: Lean Six Sigma, lean, Six Sigma, Six Sigma Certifications, lean six sigma certifications

It is abundantly clear that the Six Sigma problem solving approach using the DMAIC (Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, and Control 5 phased process) is systematic, efficient, and delivers real results. The only issues that arise relate to the use of tools between Lean Enterprise and Six Sigma. That issue just doesn’t make sense and here is why.

When faced with issues in operations the real key is to apply the right tools and methods systematically to efficiently solve the problems and assure that they don’t come back to haunt you. The efficient problem solving method is DMAIC.

  • Implementation should be as “Fast as You Can, but as Slow as You Must” following a project completion strategy.
  • Use the “Best Practice Tools” for improvement from Total Quality Management, Business Process Engineering, Balanced Scorecard, Applied Statistics, Just In Time, Continuous Flow Manufacturing, Lean Enterprise, and Design for Excellence.

My argument is to apply the appropriate tolls and methods for the situation you are faced with regardless of the discipline where they originated.

Why limit the tools and techniques for making dramatic improvement? The following graphic illustrates the Integration of Lean and Six Sigma and the glue that holds it all together is the DMAIC Improvement Process.

I also argue that DMAIC doesn’t take too long, or is not too difficult as some Lean zealots aspire to be the truth. Depending on the scope of an improvement project the DMAIC process can be completed in as little time as one day.

To tackle the tough issues we are faced with today requires a systematic and efficient process. Doesn’t it make sense to Define the issues before making any changes? Doesn’t it make sense to Measure where you currently are before making changes? Doesn’t it make sense to Analyze what you have measured to determine the root causes of the issues? Obviously it makes sense to develop creative solutions to the root causes to Improve the process, product, or service delivery. And finally, doesn’t it make sense after the solutions are implemented that you can maintain Control of your gains so this problem stays solved?

As for the tools to apply I encourage you to try the ones that seem to make the most sense given what you are tackling. To be a powerful Green, Black, or Master Black Belt you need a large toolbox, but remember not all tools are appropriate in all situations. My rule of thumb is go simple first and add complexity if warranted. Remember, the key to all of this is to solve the problems as “Fast as You Can, but as Slow as You Must” following a project completion strategy. Start your Lean Six Sigma journey with online courses from Educate Virtually.

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