Overview of Lean Six Sigma: 

Lean and Six Sigma, though being complementary to each other, differ from each other in terms of their origins, purpose, and methodologies for process improvement. The Lean Six Sigma principles emphasize the significance of eliminating any waste. Six Sigma is a tried-and-true project management method based on data. 

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Since 1986, Six Sigma has been the de facto project management system, with its belt-based certifications. Typically, Six Sigma principles concepts use either the DMADV(Define, Measure, Analyze, Design, Verify) or  DMAIC (define, measure, analyze, improve, and control)  technique to solve problems in a five-step process. Using statistical studies, the ultimate goal is to eliminate product variances and flaws. As successful as Six Sigma has been for organizations, it does have some flaws that have many people wondering how they might enhance the process. 

What is Lean

Lean is a mindset that focuses on reducing waste and offering the best possible customer service. There are eight types of waste, according to the principles of Lean methodology: defects, overproduction, waiting, non-utilized talent, transportation, inventory, motion, and excessive processing. Lean sets out to detect and reduce waste by utilizing a value stream map to detail the steps involved in creating a product or providing a service. 

Lean Six Sigma combines the best of both worlds by combining these two process optimization approaches. It not only minimizes process flaws and waste but also establishes a foundation for organizational cultural change. Employees and supervisors’ mindsets shift when Lean Six Sigma principles are introduced, focusing on growth and continual improvement through process optimization. This shift in an organization’s culture and thinking enhances efficiency and revenue. 

Benefit of Six Sigma Techniques

The Six Sigma technique enables a company to enhance the quality of its processes by identifying the root causes of failures and working to prevent and remedy future faults. The Six Sigma process improvement methodology has helped various firms improve efficiencies, cut costs, and raise customer satisfaction, from manufacturing operations to logistics and retail. Six Sigma has major applications in  IT as well as any other business process. Project managers and IT department managers can apply the Six Sigma approach to increase service levels, minimize system downtime, and optimize processes across the board, from network infrastructure to ERP to E-Business interfaces and software applications. 

The Foundations of Lean and Six Sigma, as well as their Applications :

•       Lean and Six Sigma improvement methodology dedifferentiation

•       Determine the optimal approach for combining Lean and Six Sigma efforts, given basic organizational conditions

·      Recognize the impact of various continuous improvement methodologies on Six Sigma and Lean 

·      Recognize how Lean Six Sigma was used to improve a manufacturing process in a specific situation. 

·      Recognize the characteristics and quality considerations that are particular to service businesses.

Six Sigma Principles

Consider the following Lean Six Sigma concepts for your organization to create a process stream that generates the greatest results. 

1. Put the consumer first

Today, one of the oldest and wisest pieces of business advice still holds true. Customers should always come first, no matter what business you’re in. Everything you do should be focused on your consumers and their requirements. After all, where would your company be if it didn’t have customers? 

Establish the degree of quality or specifications that you have promised your consumers before you begin making any severe or even tiny modifications. Every move you make should help your firm go closer to offering the most value possible. 

 2. Create a value stream diagram. 

-You must first understand all of the processes in your process before you can improve it. Even if you already have your workflows documented, it’s still a good idea to look at how you do things to see which stages offer value and which don’t (and can, therefore, be removed from the process). 

3. Recognize how the present system operates. 

-Before implementing lean six sigma and making improvements, you must first understand the current condition of your process. The effectiveness of Lean Six Sigma principles is undeniably due to the ability to identify your value stream. It’s how companies see all of the processes in a process and identify waste areas. 

4. Building a value stream map,

Which is a flowchart that displays and analyzes the processes in a production or service process, is one way to do so. For example, the value stream for constructing a car would comprise parts procurement, assembly (and quality assurance), and distribution of the finished product. 

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-Get a bird’s-eye view of your entire process, from beginning to end. You won’t end up focusing too much on a particular region and maximizing it at the expense of another phase in the process this way. 

5. Determine the source of issues and bottlenecks. 

You can detect difficulties in your process and analyze their fundamental cause once you’ve put together your current value stream. 

Perform a root cause analysis utilizing a cause-and-effect diagram to determine what is currently creating issues. They’re also known as fishbone diagrams because of their design, and they identify issues in several aspects of your organization. To uncover potential causes, service companies, for example, look at the four Ps—policies, processes, people, and plant/technology. 

The 5 Whys analysis is another technique to figure out what’s causing a problem. The 5 Whys analysis analyzes an issue and asks “Why?” five times, each time trying to dig deeper into the answer until the original cause emerges. It is best suited to moderately challenging but not too complicated problems. If numerous reasons emerge, the situation may be too complex for this technique, and a cause-and-effect analysis may be more appropriate. 

6. Create flow by removing trash (Six Sigma Principles)

You must visualize and reduce waste before you can improve and generate flow in your process. That may appear to be a straightforward process, but both Lean and Six Sigma emphasize that inefficiencies can be disguised, which is why it’s critical to first understand what constitutes waste and then how to reduce variances. 

7. Remove non-value-added steps and waste. 

When the two approaches are combined, waste in Lean Six Sigma principles refers to anything that is not contributing to the end product. That creates a lot of room for things to go wrong and for areas that need to be improved to go unnoticed. 

Step 1:Make trash apparent.

You can’t get rid of rubbish if you don’t see it. Remember that according to Lean manufacturing, there are many different types of waste, including defects, overproduction, waiting, non-utilized talent, transportation, inventory, motion, and excessive processing. 

Step 2: Be aware of your trash. 

Recognize trash for what it is. We could anticipate being kept waiting in a doctor’s office or a hospital, for example. However, by adopting a better scheduling system, sorting patients more swiftly at check-in, or hiring additional personnel, this waste might be avoided.

Step3: Take responsibility for your garbage. 

To build a culture of responsibility and ownership in your firm, Lean Six Sigma principles ideas must be applied. Ensure that everyone in the team is focused on reducing waste and achieving an unified objective. As a result, an accountability culture may be established.

Step4: Calculate how much waste you have. 

This step is critical for gaining buy-in from team members as well as executives. Change can appear more costly than maintaining the status quo, especially in larger firms, and people will be less motivated if the waste is minor. It’s difficult to get rid of waste if you don’t know how much there is. 

Step 5: Get rid of or decrease waste. 

There are always additional options to minimize waste and optimize your firm by hiring new people, modifying or creating new products, offering new services, shifting locations, and so on. 

8. Increase standardization and decrease variation 

Reduced variation and increased uniformity, borrowed from Six Sigma principles, allows firms to be more cost-efficient and have higher customer satisfaction. 

It might be difficult to get things perfect the first time––or almost every time––so here are a few ideas to get you started: 

• Keep track of your procedures: As previously stated, without a thorough understanding of how things are now done, you won’t know how to improve, optimize, or standardize. 

• Develop and disseminate best practices: Reduce the number of information silos in your organization; encourage the exchange of good ideas across the board. 

•Make process checklists so that everyone knows what to do and how to do it: This will make it much easier for new employees to get up to speed while also lowering the likelihood of current employees making mistakes.

• Ensure that everyone receives the same training: 

For the procedures to work properly, everyone of your staff must be on the same page. 

• Use forms and templates: Using forms and templates eliminates staff confusion when preparing reports, responding to customers, documenting mistakes, and so on. 

•   Do automation on repetitive, tedious, or error-prone things.Replace certain manual activities with online applications or tools to speed things up and make them more exact. 

9. Keep in touch with your coworkers. 

People dislike change, so until management tells them otherwise, your staff will likely remain to do the same things.The company needs to explain new standards and procedures properly and unambiguously. Ascertain that each employee is trained and received feedback on the new processes and procedures. 

Information can be communicated and disseminated in a variety of ways, including: 

• Knowledge base creation to develop new capabilities 

• Maintain an up-to-date knowledge base for client support

• Stakeholders and employees will have simple access to the whole process depending on their specific roles.

• Process map creation will show your staff how their workflow has evolved. 

10. Foster a culture of adaptability and change. 

Lean Six Sigma principles, as you can see from the other principles we’ve reviewed, necessitates a lot of change. Change should be welcomed, and your employees should be encouraged to accept it as well. Data should be at the heart of this cultural shift. You may calm employees’ anxieties by outlining the benefits of the change and demonstrating to them how data has improved their work. 

Six Sigma incorporates a very scientific and rigorous approach to data examination, quantification, and analysis, which is exactly the DMAIC method we discussed before. But the objective isn’t to do it once and then forget about it until another issue develops. It should become an inextricable part of your daily, project-by-project attitude. 

Your organization should always look for new ways to streamline the process and eliminate waste as part of this cultural transformation. Keep an eye on the numbers, look at your bottom line, and tweak your processes as needed. 

11. Analysis of Bottlenecks:

How many times have your initiatives become bogged down in the middle of development and delivery? Bottleneck analysis is a method of systematically examining the processes and workflows involved in developing a product or service. By identifying and addressing operational and process constraints, bottleneck analysis can be utilized to solve both current and future issues. 


Companies save time, energy, and money by utilizing Lean principles to identify and eliminate bottlenecks. You can resolve a bottleneck in a variety of ways, depending on the type of bottleneck. Bottlenecks generated by inefficient processes, for example, can be resolved by streamlining and enhancing those processes; if the bottleneck is caused by a lack of resources, you may need to hire more people or invest in technology to make your current resources go farther. 

12. Just-in-Time Delivery (JIT) 

Just-in-time manufacturing is an on-demand method that allows producers to start producing a product only when a consumer has ordered it. This eliminates the need for enterprises to stock up on superfluous inventory, reducing the danger of overstocking or damage to components or products while being stored. 


Professionals that follow Lean concepts might think about JIT if their company can work on-demand and limit the risk of just carrying inventory when it’s needed. JIT can be a useful framework for inventory management, but it can also make it more difficult to meet customer demand if the supply chain breaks down. 

Self-publishing, for example, frequently employs this technique, printing books just as they are ordered. The cost of extra materials has also been reduced because of digital dissemination of media products. 

When implementing JIT, companies in industries like manufacturing should thoroughly assess their supply chains to reduce the risk of disruption. If a major supplier, for example, needs to shut down, it’s critical to have a backup plan in place to ensure that the final product can still be developed. 

13. Value Stream Mapping (Six Sigma Principles)

A technique derived from Lean manufacturing is value stream mapping. It’s used by businesses to build a visual representation of all the components required to deliver a product or service, with the purpose of assessing and optimizing the entire process. 

Manufacturing, banking, and healthcare are just a few of the areas that use value stream mapping. This principle presents all of the required people, processes, information, and inventories in a flow chart to provide an overview of the firm. 


Value stream mapping can be beneficial to your company for number of reasons for a variety of reasons, including-encouraging continuous process improvement, enabling organizational culture transformation and facilitating clear collaboration and communication 

14. Equipment Efficiency in General (OEE) 

The overall equipment effectiveness (OEE) metric assesses how much of the projected productive time is actually used for productive purposes.

Consider this scenario: 

In manufacturing, OEE considers the percentage of “good parts” produced (“good parts” refers to items that meet the company’s quality criteria). If your project has sections that are badly constructed, they will not count toward the “good parts” or total OEE score, as seen in the example above. 

Overall equipment effectiveness may be determined by multiplying the following three factors, according to oee.com: • Availability • Performance • Quality 

The following are the definitions for these three factors: 

• Quality = Good Count Divided by Total Count • Availability = Runtime Divided by Total Planned Production Time • Performance = (Ideal Cycle Time Multiplied by Total Count) Divided By Run Time 


Companies use OEE to boost production effectiveness and execute effectively and efficiently by creating realistic performance baselines—all while maintaining quality requirements. Companies save money and time as a result of this efficiency. 

15. Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA):

Plan-Do-Check-Act, often known as the Deming Cycle, is a scientific technique for managing change. There are four parts to the PDCA cycle: 

-Make a plan— Identify a problem or a process that needs to be improved. 

 -Execute – Construct a short test. 

– Examine – Examine the test findings. 

– Act-Take action based on the findings. 


Lockheed Martin employed PDCA to improve the efficiency of their material management process. Its capacity to shorten the time it takes to shift parts from the receiving department to the stock department was one of its award-winning achievements. Originally, this process took 30 days, but it was cut down to just four hours. 

11. Proofing for Errors 

Poka-yoke, or error proofing, is a common process analysis tool that is founded on the principle of prevention. Poka-yoke, according to BusinessMap, a project management software business, focuses on ensuring that the necessary conditions exist before any process is implemented. Defects and human mistakes are less likely to occur as a result of this procedure. 


Companies can take a few measures to properly adopt root cause analysis: 

-Recognize the problem you’re attempting to resolve. 

-Find out how long the problem has been going on and how it is affecting your process/business directly. 

-Gather information about the problem and try to discover as many likely reasons as you can. 

-Once you’ve gathered data, figure out what’s causing the issue. 

-Determine how to reduce the likelihood of the problem recurring. 

The following video illustrates the salient features and principles of Lean Six Sigma

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ):

What is the most important factor in Lean Six Sigma decision-making? 

 Data and statistical analysis are the answers. When Six Sigma and Lean methods are used, they work well together.

 When and where can Lean Six Sigma be used?  

Whether it’s a government agency, a small or medium-sized enterprise, or a huge corporation, Lean Six Sigma has been successfully implemented in practically every industry. This methodology will assist any process that requires standardization and near-perfect consistency. 

What are the salient features of Lean Six Sigma, and how does it work? 

Lean Six Sigma (LSS) encompasses a wide range of concepts and applications. It is a management system with the purpose of achieving near-perfection in corporate performance. It is a customer-focused approach to process optimization that aims to reduce variation and waste. It is a structured problem-solving process that employs data and analytical tools to produce significant gains. It’s a mindset that makes decisions based on evidence. It is, in its entirety, a potent business plan for long-term success. 
• Creating a culture of continuous improvement with a successful Lean Six Sigma implementation 
• Cutting costs by minimizing variation and eliminating waste 
• Improving the efficiency and effectiveness of operations 
• Improving customer satisfaction and loyalty 
• Increasing revenue by better understanding client needs 
• Increasing employee motivation and competency 

What is the difference between the DMAIC and DMADV techniques used in Six Sigma? 

There are five stages to the DMAIC project methodology:
• Define the system, the customer’s voice and requirements, and the project’s unique goals. 
• Calculate the ‘as-is’ Process Capability by measuring important features of the current process and collecting necessary data. 
• Examine the data to look for and confirm cause-and-effect correlations. Determine the relationships and make every effort to verify that all elements have been taken into account. Find the source of the problem you’re looking into. 
• Create a new, future state process by improving or optimizing the current process based on techniques derived through data  analysis,such as design of experiments, poka-yoke or mistake proofing, and standard work. Pilot runs should be set up to determine process capability. 
• Maintain control over the future state process to guarantee that any deviations from the target are rectified before faults arise. Implement control systems like statistical process control, production boards, and visual workstations, and monitor the process continuously. This procedure is repeated until the appropriate level of quality is obtained. 
DMADV techniques, on the other side, have five phases: 
• Establish design objectives that are in line with consumer needs and the company’s overall strategy. 
• Measure and identify CTQs (critical to quality characteristics), product capabilities, manufacturing process capability, and risk. 
• Analyze in order to come up with and design new ideas.
• Create a better alternative based on the results of the previous step’s study. 
• Check the design, execute pilot runs, put the production process in place, and hand it over to the process owner (s).  

 What is the most significant distinction between Lean and Six Sigma? 

Six Sigma employs the DMAIC approach to reduce waste. 
Lean, on the other hand, follows the seven steps below:
-Overproduction: When items are manufactured but no one wants them, this is known as overproduction. 
-Waiting: If there is a time gap between each step of manufacturing, the project is losing value in the meanwhile. 
-Transportation: This occurs when products are moved inefficiently. 
Motion: This one suggests sloppy work and personnel engaging in inefficient activities in between jobs. 
-Over-processing: This occurs when a product is produced for an excessive amount of time. 
-Inventory: This type of waste occurs when your inventory level is too high and you have too much work in progress. 
-Defects: This is the number of hours spent by staff finding and correcting manufacturing errors. 

What is Fishbone diagram’s concept. 

A fishbone diagram, also known as an Ishikawa diagram, is a visual aid for categorizing potential sources of an issue in order to pinpoint its underlying causes. 

What exactly do you mean by FMEA? 

(FMEA-Failure Modes and Effects Analysis) is an acronym for Failure Modes and Effects Analysis. FMEA is a risk assessment tool that assesses the severity, occurrence, and detection of risks in order to prioritize the most critical. 

What are the important steps in conducting a root cause analysis? 

The three steps of root cause analysis are as follows: 
• The Open step: In this step, all members of the team come together and brainstorm all conceivable scenarios. 
• The Narrow Step: Considering the existing performance, they narrow down all plausible reasons and scenarios to some extent. 
• The final step: The project team confirms that all of the narrowed-down explanations for the current performance are correct.

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