Defining the Six Sigma Lean Methodology

The Six Sigma Lean Methodology helps organizations achieve operational excellence by combining two well-known process improvement methods. They are Six Sigma and Lean/Lean Manufacturing. Moreover, it is a fact-based, data-driven philosophy of improvement that focuses on defect prevention, rather than defect detection. 

Simply put, the Six Sigma Lean Methodology aims to improve performance, like drive customer satisfaction and bottom-line results, by eliminating inefficiencies. For example, this includes wastes and defects. This methodology applies anywhere variation and waste exist, and everyone in the workforce should be involved.

Graphic depicting the what the six sigma lean methodology is (lean + six sigma = lean six sigma)

The Six Sigma Lean Methodology Techniques

There are four key techniques/tools used to achieve the essential Six Sigma Lean Methodology goals:

  1. 1. The first 5S. It is a systematic approach to workplace organization and helps keep workplaces efficient, productive, safe, and clean.
  2. 2. The second is Kaizen. It involves practices that engages and involves everyone in the workforce. As a result, this promotes a work culture that focuses on self-development and continuous improvement.
  3. 3. The third is Kanban. It involves workflow management practices, such as visualization and limited work-in-progress, that focuses on maximizing efficiency and promotes continuous improvement.
  4. 4. The fourth and final is value stream mapping. This technique involves analyzing areas in your processes to eliminate waste and optimize process steps. 

The Steps of the Six Sigma Lean Methodology

Steps involved in the DMAIC method

This methodology uses a five step method to improve processes and solve problems and it is called DMAIC:

  1. 1. Define — define the problem
  2. 2. Measure — quantify the problem
  3. 3. Analyze — determine the root cause of the problem
  4. 4. Improve — identify a solution for the root cause and verify improvement
  5. 5. Control — maintain future process performance

The Benefits of the Six Sigma Lean Methodology

Who benefits?

There are two main parties that benefits from the Six Sigma Lean Methodology. The first being everyone, everywhere. That is to say, no matter the industry, size, sector or country of origin, all organization and employees can benefit from this methodology. Additionally, customers can also benefit from this methodology. To clarify, this is because when organizations are able to solve process problems, this results in fewer defects, shorter lead times, and better customer satisfaction.

What are the benefits?
The Six Sigma Lean Methodology increases profits.
  1. By streamlining the processes in your essential steps, this reduces the workload per unit. Furthermore, it also increases the speed of the process flow while maintaining and increasing quality. As a result, you produce more goods (and/or services) to more customers faster. Thus, increasing your capacity and therefore, increasing your organization’s profits. Essentially, this methodology allows you to do more with less. 
The Six Sigma Lean Methodology decreases costs.

By eliminating waste, this makes it cheaper to meet customer expectations. Additionally, because you’re focusing on proactively solving problems — focusing on defect prevention rather than defect detection — you’re resolving the root causes of product or service issues. In essence, this methodology allows you to optimize your processes, saving you money. 

The Six Sigma Lean Methodology improves efficiency.

Your business can grow faster when you create standard processes that are easy to learn, operate, and enhance. Moreover, by reallocating valuable resources from your newly streamlined processes, this means you have more resources available to further grow your business. 

The Six Sigma Lean Methodology increases effectiveness.

This methodology allows you to truly understand who your customer is and what it is that they want, enabling you to focus your efforts on where most value can be added. In addition, by measuring what each of your customers value most, this helps you target improvement efforts to achieve great customer satisfaction. In essence, by achieving operational excellence, this allows your organization to produce more products and services to more increasingly satisfied customers.

The Six Sigma Lean Methodology creates a more engaged workforce.

This methodology enables individuals to get involved in problem solving, resulting in teams that are accountable to each other and their organization. What’s more, it also builds a culture of trust. That is to say, by being transparent from senior management all the way down to frontline workers, this promotes respect and a shared understanding of how each individual contributes to the organization’s success.

The Bottom Line

The Six Sigma Lean Methodology is a management approach and method that focuses on eliminating wasteful activities in production processes to improve employee and overall company performance. Moreover, it helps you do this faster, with less effort.

Its foundation is based on the Lean concept that was established by Japan’s Toyota to reduce waste and the Six Sigma strategy that was established by the United States’ Motorola to reduce defects.

 In short, by combining the strategies and techniques of both these teachings, organizations can streamline their processes, improve their efficiency, and engage their workforce.

How Can TheLeanSuite Help?

TheLeanSuite is a lean manufacturing software that is built on lean thinking and lean principles. So, it is designed to manage and eliminate inefficiencies, supporting the Six Sigma Lean Methodology. In sum, by leveraging the various solutions that the software offers, you’ll be able to focus on delivering results in real-time, rather than the traditional administrative efforts.