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Variance Reduction | Lean & Six Sigma | Agile Continuous Improvement

Lean & Six Sigma™

Lean Six Sigma (LSS) is a two-staged business approach to continuous improvement which focuses on reducing waste and variation from manufacturing, service, or design processes.

Lean refers to maximizing customer value and minimizing waste; creating more value for customers with less wasted resources. 

Six Sigma is the ongoing effort to continually reduce process and product variation through a defined data-driven project approach. 

Combined, the two approaches drive continuous improvement, building a philosophy that is the foundation of all effective quality management systems and any business that wants to grow and progress in the future.

What is Lean?

Lean is a set of principles and practices for streamlining processes and eliminating waste in order to increase efficiency and productivity. 

Its key elements include standardized workflows, Value Stream Mapping, Kanban systems, and Just-in-Time inventory management.

By optimizing processes and eliminating unnecessary steps, organizations using the methodology are able to reduce costs, increase quality and respond more quickly to customer needs.

Some of the benefits of adopting the methodology include improved speed and agility, lower operating costs, increased competitiveness, and increased employee engagement and satisfaction.

An organization who adopts the methodology is one that supports the concept of continuous improvement, a long-term approach to work that systematically seeks to achieve small, incremental changes in processes in order to improve efficiency and quality.

What is Six Sigma?

Six Sigma is a methodology focused on creating breakthrough improvements by managing variation and reducing defects in processes across the enterprise. Six Sigma is a business strategy that employs well‐structured continuous improvement methodology and statistical tools to reduce defects and process variability.

It is a quality discipline that focuses on product and service excellence. Six Sigma has been employed in numerous companies to reduce operating costs, increase sales and revenue, increase reliability, incorporate innovation in products and services, and increase productivity and profitability. 

The objective of a Six Sigma program is to reduce the variation in the process to the extent that the likelihood of producing a defect is virtually non‐existent.

Six Sigma concentrates on more complex issues, using statistical tools to reduce variability in product or service quality, thereby reducing costs. Combining the two approaches produces powerful, long-lasting change.

History of Lean & Six Sigma

The history of LSS dates back to the 1940s when Toyota implemented a set of principles and practices for optimizing manufacturing operations. These early efforts laid the foundation for what would eventually become known as the “Lean” approach to quality management. Over time, other organizations began to recognize the benefits of Lean manufacturing principles and began adopting them in their own operations.

In the 1980s, a group of Lean experts at Motorola developed Six Sigma, a methodology for systematically reducing variation and defects in processes across the organization. The two approaches were later combined to form Lean Six Sigma, which has become one of the most popular quality management frameworks used in businesses today. Today, many companies implement LSS to improve efficiency, streamline operations, and achieve greater success in their competitive environments.

Timeline of the Evolution of Lean & Six Sigma

1940s – Toyota implements a set of principles and practices for optimizing manufacturing operations, laying the foundation for the Lean approach to quality management.

1980s – A group of Lean experts at Motorola develop Six Sigma, a methodology for systematically reducing variation and defects in processes across the organization.

1990s – The two approaches are combined to form LSS, which becomes one of the most popular quality management frameworks used in businesses today.

2000s – Many companies implement LSS to improve efficiency, streamline operations, and achieve greater success in their competitive environments.

2010s to Present – Despite ongoing criticism, LSS remains a popular choice for organizations looking to enhance their competitiveness and improve performance.

Key milestones in its evolution include the development of new tools and methodologies, such as Value Stream Mapping and Just-in-Time inventory management, as well as growing adoption among various industries, including healthcare, manufacturing, government, and services.

Benefits of Lean Six Sigma

Some of the key benefits of LSS include improved speed and agility, lower operating costs, increased competitiveness, greater employee engagement and satisfaction, and enhanced innovation and creativity.

By optimizing processes, reducing variation, eliminating waste, and improving efficiency across all areas of the organization, businesses that implement a LSS approach are able to achieve significant improvements in performance, profitability, and sustainability.

Given the many benefits of LSS, it is no wonder that the approach has become such a popular choice for organizations across industries. Whether you are looking to improve quality, increase efficiency, or drive innovation and growth in your organization, LSS can help you achieve your goals more effectively and efficiently than ever before.

Future of Lean Six Sigma

There are a number of key trends that are expected to shape the future of LSS, including the continued evolution of digital technologies and automation, growing demand for data-driven decision, rising competition from alternative approaches to quality management, and ongoing concerns about the cost and complexity of implementing a LSS program.

Despite these challenges, however, it is clear that LSS will continue to play a critical role in driving organizational success for many years to come.

As businesses increasingly recognize the value of this approach and the benefits it can offer, we can expect to see growing adoption of LSS in the years ahead.

Additionally, as businesses continue to grapple with dynamic market conditions and increasing levels of uncertainty, many experts agree that LSS will remain an important tool for driving organizational success in the years to come.

“Businesses that grow by development and improvement do not die.”

-Henry Ford

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