Which of both improvement methods is the better one?
This article focuses on two of the major business improvemen
t methodologies, namely Lean and Six Sigma. It points out the differences and discusses which method would be best for using today.
The Difference between Lean and Six Sigma
A Lean project can be done when the main causes are known, but the solutions are complex. Lean projects can be completed within 45 days and focus mainly on the elimination of waste. Among the tools that can be used to complete the Lean project are, Poka Yoke and Pareto Analysis. Six Sigma projects on the other hand, are done when the main causes are unknown and the solutions are complex. These projects can range from 3-6 months, while the focus lies on variation reduction. The main structured methodology to carry out a Six Sigma project would be the D-M-A-I-C structure, which stands for Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve and Control. So to wrap up, in a situation where the cause is Unknown and the Solution is complex Six Sigma is supposed to be used, and in a situation where the causes are known but the solution is complex a lean methodology is used.
How did Lean and Six Sigma come to existence
During the late 1980s and early 90s Lean and Six Sigma became of great importance. The world had started globalizing. Process automation in all sectors reached its peak and due to globalization, demand was high and supply was comparatively less. As globalization started to evolve, increa
sing economic transactions globally enhanced trade and there was no sign of recession.
So the factors that required the rise of Lean and Six Sigma are:
- Automations led to an larger output, but also to more waste
- Therefore, resource optimization was essential and afocus on waste was important
- So, the focus shifted from ‘output based thinking’ to ‘input based thinking’
- Also, there was a need for a quick response tot the market
- But multiple suppliers led to management issues and operational delays
- So, processes were people dependent and a strong focus on a process oriented approach was required
So what is most important method for today: Lean or Six Sigma?
As mentioned before, Lean normally shouldn’t take more than 45 days, while Six Sigma projects can last for about 3 or 4 months for a successful round up. Therefore, the need for something somewhat faster and more customer-oriented emerged.
This brings us to the new trend nowadays: Lean Six Sigma –
a combination of both Lean and Six Sigma. These projects are completed quickly and the focus lies on innovative thinking. Customer orientation is the only priority of this combination of methods. These kinds of projects can last from about 1 month up to 3 months. A data driven approach is used wherever data is available to the project team and customer value will be identified to the max.
Both Lean and Six Sigma are great methodologies, which make an even greater methodology when combined to serve customer needs.
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