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What is Lean Six Sigma

Lean Six Sigma is not just a collection of tools, but an integrated continuous improvement methodology aimed at delivering defect free products and services – as well as producing value for the customer as efficiently as possible.

The Lean Six Sigma methodology is a merger of two distinct but complementary methodologies – Lean and Six Sigma. Lean is based on Toyota’s production system and has been developed into a Lean set of principles that have been widely applied in both manufacturing and service businesses. Six Sigma was developed by Motorola in the late 1980’s initially to improve product quality and has also been widely applied in manufacturing and service organisations.

Lean Six Sigma itself has many facets and emphasis is placed according to how you are applying it.

First and foremost it is (and has to be!) A Business Philosophy and this has to start from the senior ranks of leadership. It provides a common language and framework across the organisation, makes expectations very clear on how business improvement projects should be executed – eventually it becomes so woven into the fabric of the organisation that you should hear people saying “it’s just the way we do things here”.

The foundation of Lean Six Sigma is a Systematic Process for Improvement – there are three routes to choose from (1) DMAIC, (2) DMADV (3) Process Management. Independent of the measurement involved, any of the three can be used to solve any problem or improve any process.

Sigma itself is a measure of performance and Lean Six Sigma is a benchmark across Industries and can become an internal benchmark also.

Supporting the process and methodology of Lean Six Sigma are a selection of tools and a series of questions – these enable you to deliver on the requirements of the methodology

Lean Six Sigma is also a catalyst for Project Management & Change Management– some of the questions that need to get asked are the same as you would find in a Project and Change Management methodology. The tools that you use to answer those questions are the same as some of the tools you will find in the Lean Six Sigma toolkit.