Lean Six Sigma

What is Lean Six Sigma?

Lean Six Sigma is a team-focused integrated approach for business improvement and a vehicle for organizational transformation and culture change. The main objective is to obtain the continuous improvement of process performance combining the Lean philosophy, striving to reduce process lead times and obtain flow, and the Six Sigma tools and methods assuring quality in production and organizational processes.

Lean Six Sigma was developed in the 1980s at major companies like Motorola and Toyota. The two philosophies look at improving process performance from 2 different angles:

  1. Lean: lean refers to any method, measure or tool that helps identifying and eliminating wastes in order to obtain flow. In particular, the “lean” concept of management lends its focus on the reduction and elimination of eight kinds of waste known as “DOWNTIME,” which is an abbreviation of Defects, Overproduction, Waiting, Non-utilized talent, Transportation, Inventory, Motion and Extra-processing.
  2. Six Sigma: the term Six Sigma refers to statistical tools and techniques that are used to reduce process variation and defects.

DMAIC is the structured problem-solving roadmap utilized in Lean Six Sigma projects. The acronym stands for Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve and Control and refers to a data-driven method for improving, optimizing and stabilizing both transactional and manufacturing processes.

In improvement projects, the combination of lean management concepts and Six Sigma’s tools and techniques makes clear what processes are actually producing value for the customer and which ones are prone to variation and then contributes to reduce those variations as a way to ensure continued improvement.

Who can start a Lean Six Sigma Journey?

Anybody can learn to apply the Lean Six Sigma method to improvement projects. What is peculiar about the method is that advancements in the Lean Six Sigma training journey are denoted by “Belt” levels:

  • Yellow Belt: awareness of Lean Six Sigma.
  • Green Belt: a focus on the use of tools and the application of DMAIC and lean principles.
  • Black Belt: full-time project leader.
  • Master Black Belt: a Black Belt with a minimum of two years of experience and able to teach Lean Six Sigma and run a company-wide LSS program.

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