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What is Lean Six Sigma and What are the Benefits?

Lean Six Sigma utilizes a combination of Toyota’s waste reduction philosophy (LEAN) and Motorola’s quality improvement program (Six Sigma) to drive continuous improvement and efficiency in products, processes and organizations.

Very simply, the benefit of waste reduction (LEAN) in any process or task is that it takes less time to complete and costs less money to sustain. Quantifying the benefits of such an approach is dependent on how complex the process/task is and how much of the waste can be removed, but I have attached a couple of articles that substantiate the benefits of a lean approach:

            Xerox Addresses Benefits of Lean Manufacturing in a Lean Economy

            Benefits of Taking a Lean Manufacturing Approach

As far as the benefits of a Six Sigma program go, Charles Waxer at estimates that an organization can save 1.2% to 4.5% of revenues annually by implementing a sustained Six Sigma culture.

            Six Sigma Costs and Savings

I think that we can all agree that any organization can benefit from such savings. If your organization is interested in saving money, read on!

A bit more about Lean...

One of the fundamental concepts underlying Toyota’s Lean Philosophy is the reduction or elimination of waste. To say that this single concept explains Toyota’s Lean Philosophy would be a gross oversimplification of the transformation that occurred within Toyota’s Production System, but we can use it as a starting point. In order to reduce or eliminate waste, you need to know what types of waste exist. The are seven categories (some will argue that there are actually eight) under which waste can be classified and they are:

  • Transportation
  • Inventory
  • Motion (People)
  • Waiting
  • Over-production (Too many)
  • Over-processing (Too long or unnecessary)
  • Defects

Just remember TIM WOOD and you can remember the seven classifications of waste. But what about the controversial eighth category! In some cases, Intellectual Property is lost or “wasted” with employee turnover either voluntary or involuntary. So, just remember TIM WOOD and you can identify where your improvements need to concentrate.

A bit more about Six Sigma…..

Once you identify where improvements need to take place, how do you go about making the improvements? This is where Six Sigma comes into play! Six Sigma is a data driven problem solving methodology targeted at driving continuous improvement. In fact by the statistical definition of Six Sigma (6s), you are striving to continuously improve to the point where you generate less than 3.4 defects per million opportunities. The methodology, or how, you improve is a 5 step process known as the DMAIC Process:

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  • Define
  • Measure
  • Analyze
  • Improve
  • Control

Fortunately or unfortunately, human nature is to dive immediately into the Improve phase and “fix it”. The problem with skipping the first 3 phases is that we don’t truly know if we “fixed” anything because we forgot to measure it. We don’t truly know if we “fixed” the root cause of the problem because we neglected to analyze what was causing it. We also don’t know if we truly “fixed” the problem that we set out to fix because we never defined what the problem was in the first place.

As certified Lean Six Sigma Black Belts, we specialize in utilizing the Lean Six Sigma approach to help organizations drive continuous improvements throughout their processes and organizations. We are so convinced that we can help you implement measurable improvements utilizing this technique that we forgo payment if we cannot show you the measurable improvement in your targeted Key Performance Indicator (KPI).

For more information or free consultation, contact Art O’Donnell at or call 804-363-4457.


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