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What is Lean Six Sigma?

Have you ever wondered what is Lean Six Sigma? You might have heard about Six Sigma and Lean, but what about the combined process?

Let us reinforce our understanding of both the processes and then move onto tackling the concept of Six Sigma Lean.

As you all know, from our page on define Six Sigma, it is a data-driven methodology for improving processes and delivering nearly zero defect end products. It advocates the usage of various quality tools and processes to ensure that there are less than 3.4 defects per million opportunities or better.

And what is Lean? Well, Lean is a production methodology that emphasizes on minimizing wastage during production by cutting down on unnecessary steps that do not bring about any value-add to the process. These non-value adding steps could either be inflating the project time and cost, or stock requirement which therefore might result in additional cost to the process.

So now the next question that would come to your mind is what is Lean Six Sigma and how are Lean and the steps in Six Sigma methodology related?

Six Sigma basically tries to eliminate variation in a process so that there are no defects. The focus of Six Sigma is therefore to control deviation from the standard process. On the other hand, Lean methodology focuses on breaking down a process into various sub-processes and identifying and eliminating any process that is non-essential to the process. In simple terms, the lean methodology tries of speed up the process as can be seen in lean software development. Therefore both Lean and Six Sigma go hand in hand and do not contradict one another.

If you consider the benefits of both the methodologies and try to adopt the combined approach of Lean Six Sigma, the end results would be simply magnificent. But no doubt you’re wondering how these very different methodologies can be deployed together effectively?

As you have already seen, the focus of Lean and Six Sigma are totally different. The combined approach of Six Sigma Lean can very easily be adopted in any process. Lean will help you improve the process workflow whereas Six Sigma will help you standardize the process so as to minimize the variation. And the end result would be a near zero defect product that is delivered faster, and probably at a lower cost.

We all have studied the benefits of Six Sigma and how it goes a long way in ensuring that the number of defects is reduced drastically thereby resulting in a better quality product. Adding Lean to Six Sigma basically means adding speed to the already standardized process. Lean methodology propagates focusing on the core processes and finding ways to streamline them. This will obviously delight your customers as they will not only get quality but speed as well.

It is beneficial to use Six Sigma Lean because many a times you get so focused on Six Sigma and process standardization that you end up creating a number of slow moving, unresponsive practices which focus on process replication. This inadvertently gets treated as a step towards minimizing process deviation. However, when you add Lean to Six Sigma, you are forced to analyze your processes and identify the core processes. In this exercise, you also spot all the slow-moving, non-value adding steps and think of ways to eliminate them. You try to streamline the entire workflow. Therefore Lean complements the Six Sigma process and ensures that you not only deliver excellent-quality products but also deliver them in the best possible time.

Lean Six Sigma is typically beneficial because Lean alone cannot standardize a process and control deviation. Similarly Six Sigma alone cannot drastically improve the process speed and reduce cost.

However, an amalgamation of both ensures an equal focus on both project quality management and speed, both of which are vital for exceeding your customer’s expectations.

What is Six Sigma Lean? - Tip

The combined effect of Lean and Six Sigma leads to improvements in product quality as well a turnaround time. Sharing these improvement stories will not only build your reputation in the market but will also help you get more business.

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