What is Lean Six Sigma Methodology?

What is Lean Six Sigma ?
What is Lean Six Sigma ?

What is Lean Six Sigma Methodology?

What is Lean Six Sigma ? Today’s economical environment is very competitive. Companies and organizations are seeking the ways of increasing productivity, solving problems and decreasing costs. A collaborative team effort is much needed to improve decision making for this purpose. Six Sigma principles provide techniques to improve the quality of a process or product. This article reviews the Six Sigma and Lean Six Sigma concepts and lists the key differences between them.

Lean Six Sigma is a technique that combines the methods of Lean and Six Sigma to eliminate the eight kinds of waste in order to improve the performance. The purpose of Lean Six Sigma is to improve the quality and the efficiency of the process considering customer’s requirements. Although both Six Sigma and Lean Six Sigma focus on improving customer satisfaction, there are some differences between their methodologies. In order to understand this methodology, the term “Lean” should be analyzed at first.


Lean is a problem solving tool of eliminating wastes and removing wasteful activities that don’t add value to the process. By the help of this problem solving tool only the activities which add value to the process can be considered. Activities can be categorized by their values in the process. Lean focuses on maximizing customer value by using less resources.

Many people think that lean is applicable only for manufacturing industry. This is a misconception. Lean is applicable to all the business processes within the organization. Because lean principles provide a way of decision making for the organization.

Value Added vs Non Value Added Activities

Simply put, value is something that a customer is willing to pay.

Non Value Added Activity

Non Value Added Activities do not add any value to the process.

Value Added Activity

Value Added Activities add value to the process.

Value Enabling Activities

Value Enabling Activities are activities that do not add value directly to a process, they must be performed to allow Value Adding Activities later on.

What is Lean Six Sigma and What are the Eight Kinds of Wastes ?

Waste can be anything except the materials and resources that can add value to an activity. Therefore  high amount of materials, over -production, idle time, manpower more than needed, machinery more than required can be classified as wastes.

Lean six sigma seeks to eliminate eight kinds of wastes. Seven of the wastes are directly related with production and the waste “Non-Utilized Talent” is related with employee’s capabilities. The seven wastes (muda) are devised by Taiichi Ohno “the father of the Toyota Production System”.

By the help of Lean tools, The Eight Kinds of Wastes which are below can be eliminated. “DOWNTIME” is the acronym for The Eight Kinds of Wastes.

• Defects : Defects are the errors and mistakes in the production that make employees to lose time to fix.
• Over-Production : Producing more than the demand of the customer
• Waiting : Waiting is the time between the two production phase. (Mostly between previous and the next step). Waiting causes workforce loss.
• Non-Utilized Talent : Refers to utilize the employees below their capabilities or they are assigned to tasks that can be done by someone else more efficiently.
• Transportation : To move the product from some place to another place. The unnecessary transportation of the product is costly and causes time loses.
• Inventory : Excess storage space and purchased materials more than needed cost to the organization. Excess inventory increases handling costs.
• Motion : Unnecessary movement of resources, materials, equipments and supplies from one location to another is a costly process and it causes time loses.
• Extra-Processing : Extra Processing of Over Processing means doing more than the customer’s requirements.

The Eight Kinds of Wastes-Lean Six Sigma
What are The Eight Kinds of Wastes ?

Lean Six Sigma combines the methods of Lean and Six Sigma in order to improve the quality and the efficiency of the process.
The initial step of this method is to remove the waste in a process by using the lean methods. After this, the Six Sigma tools are used to improve the process.

Benefits of Using Lean Six Sigma

Lean principles provide a framework for an organization to improve both service and manufacturing processes by eliminating eight kinds of wastes. Most of the organizations suffer from low quality processes and high costs. Lean principles provides methods to overcome the most common industry problems.

Below are some of the benefits of this methodology

  • Determine the Non Value Added Activities or Processes
  • Eliminate Wastes
  • Determine the Defects and Problems that Cost Organization
  • Use the Organizational Resources Effectively
  • Increase Customer Satisfaction
  • Reduce Operational Costs
  • Improve Decision Making
  • Improve Productivity
  • Increase Efficiency
  • Increase Organization‘s Profit
  • Improve Collaboration and Employee’s involvement to the process
  • Increase Revenues by Increasing Production

Difference Between Lean Six Sigma and Six Sigma

  • Lean Six Sigma is not only used for quality improvement but also for creating  a continuous improvement system.
  • Lean Six Sigma focuses on bias for action but Six Sigma focuses on bias for statistical analysis.
  • Lean is a continuous and an on-going approach and changes as the technology and the other factors change. On the other hand Six Sigma is a project-based or customer based approach.
  • Lean Six Sigma uses methods to eliminate wastes but Six Sigma Method does not use lean methods.
  • Six Sigma is based on reducing process variation. On the other hand, Lean Six Sigma is based on eliminating wastes.


The Lean Six Sigma is a methodology that combines process speed with quality. On the other hand Six Sigma focuses on improving the quality of goods or services by reducing variance in the production process. Both Six Sigma and Lean Six Sigma provide a system for organizational culture. In order to ensure process and organizational achievement, both Lean and Six Sigma principles should be used. In this article we answer the question: What is Lean Six Sigma ? .We hope that it will be useful for the individuals seeking to build up a career in quality management.

External References

[1] asq.org

See Also

Six Sigma Methodology and Six Sigma Principles

Lean Project Management and Lean Methodology


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