Here is the definition of some of the main terms:
  • Lean. Speed (tools and methods to increase speed in your processes).
  • Six Sigma. Quality (statistical process to increase quality).
  • Lean Six Sigma. The ideal combination to increase speed and quality to make any process more agile, productive, and profitable.
  • Lean Six Sigma Management System. A solid and company-wide integrated Lean Six Sigma Management System for the whole company.
Lean Manufacturing and Services
For several years, Dr. James P. Womack and colleagues at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) conducted various studies on the automotive industry to raise awareness of the genome of the culture of quality behind the tools and thus develop healthy and agile enterprises by eliminating waste. The study was conducted to compare the best working practices in the United States with Japan and other countries to understand the differences, similarities, and especially, the factors of success and failure for companies wishing to implement them.
Lean is a philosophy of work and long-term thinking to delight customers and achieves sustained profitability. It is based on collaborative work and staff development by using tools to implement continuous improvement in order to develop a stable, flexible, and continuous flow process to provide the customer with they need, when they need it, not before or after. It can be defined as a continuous and systematic process of identification and elimination of waste or excess, meaning any activity that does not add value in the process but adds cost and labor.
Six Sigma
It is a business philosophy focused on customer satisfaction. It uses a methodology that reduces waste by reducing variation in processes through statistical and administrative tools, and thus significantly improves the quality in any process.
Six Sigma was developed by Motorola in the late 1980s given the need to match or outperform their Japanese competitors, who had achieved four sigma levels of quality (99% good products) when the average industry could only achieve three sigma level (93% good products). In fact, we are not speaking of defects per hundred, but defects per million.
Sigma is a Greek world that statistically measures the variation. Six Sigma is based on the DMAIC methodology, which consists of improvement projects using the following steps:
  • Define: The problem, the value for the customer, the team, and the project.
  • Measure: Map the process, measure  performance, and determine the reliability of the data.
  • Analyze: Identify sources of variation and root causes.
  • Improve: Make changes to optimize performance.
  • Control: establish controls to maintain improvements made.
Lean Six Sigma combined is a powerful philosophy, methodology, and toolset that integrates high-value knowledge generated in the history of improvement, making it a highly effective and simple system to design the plan, the product, marketing, logistics, manufacturing, services, administrative support, accounting, quality, information systems, engineering, and maintenance.
Application of Lean Six Sigma in different industries
Lean Six Sigma can provide a significant competitive advantage and is becoming one of the most important indicatives and strategies for companies that are achieving breakthroughs.
Lean Six Sigma philosophy is applicable to virtually any industry, for example: agriculture, automotive, construction, hotels, healthcare, military, startups, education, government, aerospace, banks, restaurants, consulting, and many more.
Myths of Lean Six Sigma
  • Six Sigma is the same as TQM.
  • Six Sigma is too statistical for transactional processes; it should only be used in manufacturing.
  • Six Sigma projects take too long to complete.
  • Lean Six Sigma is too complicated for our business.
  • Lean Six is for production only, not for engineering, or service.
  • Lean Six Sigma is for production improvement, not for process/product development.
  • Lean Six Sigma is not for Research and Development as it damages creativity.
  • A Zero-Defect Program is greater/better than Lean Six Sigma because it generates no defects while Six Sigma generates 3.4 ppm.
  • Lean Six Sigma only costs money and will make margins smaller.
  • Lean Six Sigma is a Japanese/American tool that doesn’t work in Europe.
Obviously, you will be confronted with myths from different people all the time. It is important that you know the concept and you can respond adequately.

Sometimes, we have had myth discussions going on and on until just before the implementation of a Lean Six Sigma improvement project. Once the project went live and employees saw what was in for them and for the company, myths started to disappear. 

Just be aware of them and be ready to respond..