Lean Sigma is a six-step systematic process to identify and solve problems. The process includes a diagnostic phase, root cause analysis, improvement plan, successive approximation, and follow-up. In the diagnostic phase of Lean Sigma, we need to question why a problem exists in the first place. By doing so, we can identify whether there is an issue with the process itself or if it is due to other factors. Lean Sigma will work best when it is implemented within an organization that has a culture of continuous improvement.
The six sigma process is an integrated system for the improvement of quality and lead time. It includes statistical process control, quality function deployment, and a balanced scorecard. The holistic approach is what makes it so successful at improving performance in industries such as manufacturing and mining. Motorola originally developed six Sigma in 1987 as a way to improve their product quality while lowering production costs on products like cell phones.
Organizations are often confused about whether to implement Lean Sigma or Six Sigma first. The two approaches are supposed to achieve the same thing. Lean Six Sigma is based on the principles of Six Sigma.
Before you get the answer, it’s essential to understand the difference between Six Sigma and Lean Six Sigma.
The concept of Six Sigma is to reduce variation and defects in products. The method aims to achieve a particular goal through statistical analysis. Both methods have a five-step approach.
● DMAIC Method
The DMAIC method involves defining, measuring, analyzing, improving, and controlling. The process begins by identifying the problem. After that, the current processes within the solution are formulated for the problem and gradually implemented.
The DMAIC method is perfect for performance issues within the supply chain. It is suitable only when a few adjustments are required to improve the business processes. The process aims to uphold the solution to solve similar problems in the future.
● DMADV Method
The method involves defining, measuring, analyzing, designing, and verifying. The first few phases of the DMADV method are similar to the DMAIC method. But the Design phase revolves around creating a new tool to solve the problem.
The Verify phase involves monitoring the functionality of the new solution. The designed solution should be able to keep solving the problem in the future.
Therefore, the Six Sigma process begins by monitoring the supply chain for defects. Once the issues are identified, it emphasizes solving them as efficiently as possible.
Lean Six Sigma Method
As mentioned, the Lean Six Sigma method is entirely based on eliminating waste. It aims to provide maximum value to customers with a low investment. The term “Lean” came into existence to describe the Toyota Business System in the 1980s. The Lean business philosophy enabled the company to maximize its efficiency.
The Lean Six Sigma method incorporates all the tiers of a company. It ensures that new processes can be easily guided within an organization. Therefore, the allocation of resources becomes easier. The Lean Sigma method is not entirely focused on manufacturing. Instead, it can shape every aspect of a business.
Companies often struggle to understand where they might have been using wasteful practices. The DMAI method in Lean Sigma builds a roadmap for identifying wasteful practices to discover immediate solutions. The Lean Six Sigma model helps eliminate eight kinds of waste from a process. Whether it’s time, effort, or any material, anything that cannot add value to business operations is immediately eliminated.
The different forms of waste are as follows:
- Defects: Products that are unable to satisfy quality requirements
- Waiting: Downtime and bottle-necks
- Overproduction: Producing more than what was ordered or exceeding the demand
- Transportation: Inappropriate shipping processes
- Non-Utilized Talent: Ineffective usage of human resources or improper allocation
- Motion: Unnecessary movement of people, materials, or product
- Inventory: Stocking a surplus of raw materials or finished products
- Extra Processing: Utilizing resources to do more work than required
The Difference Between Six Sigma and Lean Six Sigma
Lean Six Sigma is suitable for companies who wish to streamline their processes for increased value creation. Lean Six Sigma uses the DMAIC method. The clear roadmap and productive phases included within the DMAIC method make it valuable for Lean Six Sigma. Therefore, the DMAIC method is valuable not just for defect identification and prevention.
The Six Sigma method might use either the DMAIC or the DMADV method. It is primarily focused on defect prevention. The difference between Six Sigma and Lean Six Sigma continues to blur. Therefore, the rise of more innovative philosophies for efficient business operations cannot be prevented.
Which Should Come First?
Six Sigma is considered a tool for problem-solving, and problem-solving is a part of Lean. Therefore, embracing Lean Sigma first makes more sense. A Lean Sigma culture should be developed around Lean principles but not tools. Several companies jump into solving all their problems using the Six Sigma methodology.
Organizations usually do not need a complicated approach like Six Sigma to solve their problems. But a large chunk of organizational issues can be solved using basic problem-solving methodologies. Six Sigma is usually a time-consuming process and can take up to nine months. But Lean Sigma is a more suitable approach if you require immediate results.
When companies begin with Six Sigma, they focus on improving a process that shouldn’t have existed in the first place. The Lean Sigma process is based on the input from all the associates within an organization. But the complexity of the Six Sigma prevents people from contributing to the process. Six Sigma initiatives within an organization can often be dysfunctional if the approach isn’t right.
Lean Sigma revolves around process improvement and creating a flow. It also helps identify non-value-adding processes so that they can be eliminated. But success depends on choosing the right tools and time. Six Sigma works well only within a Lean infrastructure.
Securing a job in Quality Management becomes easier with a Six Sigma or Lean Sigma qualification. You will have to get through three levels to obtain a certification in both tracks. You will have to start at the Green Belt level and reach the Master Black Belt level. The intermediate level is known as the Black Belt level. Enroll in a professional Lean Sigma or Six Sigma course today!