Lean Six Sigma Implementation Basics
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Written by Tony Jacowski   

Lean Six Sigma methodologies are a combination of standard Six Sigma quality improvement techniques and lean manufacturing principles that are used for speeding up business processes. Six Sigma methodologies focus on reducing defects in business processes, whereas Lean Six Sigma does not only eliminate defects but also improves the speed of a process and reduces waste by eliminating non-value added steps in a business process. Combining Six Sigma and lean manufacturing principles is like combining the contents of two different toolboxes that help companies to improve quality and efficiency.


Depending on the type of methodologies used by an organization, Lean Six Sigma is often referred to as Lean Service, Lean Manufacturing, and Lean Enterprise. These concepts are compatible with standard Six Sigma methodologies and can be applied to every type of business processes. Both the concepts use similar strategies and methods and focus on improving business processes that serve customer needs. Both focus on identifying and eliminating sources of waste and processes that do not add value for maximizing output, efficiency, and throughput. They emphasize providing requisite training for enabling employees of an organization to understand the tools and processes of the methodology. Both concepts encourage the involvement of senior managers and key mentors within an organization for ensuring that quality improvement projects are executed without affecting the day-to-day operations.

Lean Six Sigma uses different techniques for reducing costs, reducing production cycle times, expanding capacity, and improving productivity. It uses "value stream mapping" for identifying improvement opportunities. However, Lean Six Sigma concepts may sometimes prove inadequate in solving some of the more complex problems that call for advanced analysis.


Standard Six Sigma methodologies follow a disciplined, data driven approach and use statistical tools for analyzing quality at every stage of the production process. When combined with Lean manufacturing principles, it helps in identifying and resolving quality issues. Its successful implementation is important in reaping quick results and enabling employees and plant managers to harness better work patterns on plant floors. Lean Six Sigma programs are executed under the guidance of Six Sigma Champions and Black Belts for enhancing the efficacy of quality improvement initiatives. It is necessary to deploy lean manufacturing techniques during the Six Sigma implementation process for ensuring that the improvement process includes a standard problem-solving approach.

Lean Six Sigma focuses on adding value to manufactured goods or services rendered by eliminating defects in every business process. This helps in building customer loyalty, as customers often prefer products and services that offer consistent quality. The matrices used in Six Sigma help in identifying customer needs, manufacturing quality products and rendering quality services.

Lean Six Sigma concepts and methodologies are based on a highly sustainable approach that gets easily integrated with the existing work processes within an organization. It requires the involvement of employees at all levels within an organization. The deployment of Six Sigma programs can initiate a culture shift within an organization that helps in eliminating waste within the production process.

Lean Six Sigma helps in ensuring future success of an organization by radically improving quality and reducing waste. It also allows employees within an organization to design and develop new business processes that will help in making drastic improvements to the organization's performance.

Tony Jacowski is a quality analyst for The MBA Journal. Aveta Solution's Six Sigma Online ( http://www.sixsigmaonline.org ) offers online six sigma training and certification classes for lean six sigma, black belts, green belts, and yellow belts.

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