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Basics of Lean Six Sigma

Lean Six Sigma is the combination of two process improvement methodologies, namely “Lean” and “Six Sigma”; these two factors make Lean Six Sigma… while in other news, two plus two equals four.

Lean is a methodology designed to improve a business by preserving quality and value but with less work, and Six Sigma is a system that was invented to improve the quality of process outputs by identifying and removing the causes of defects.

Six Sigma is a technique that was introduced by engineers Bill Smith and Mikel J Harry while working at Motorola in 1986 and it is capitalised due to the fact it’s now a registered Motorola trademark, so don’t you dare think of claiming it for your own. It is reported that Motorola reduced manufacturing costs by $1.4billion from 1987-1994, you can see why they would trademark the system behind this. I can’t believe I didn’t think of that sooner.

The reason Lean Six Sigma came to be was to give the Japanese business model “Kaizen” competition, and Kaizen is literally the Japanese word for “continuous improvement” so straight away Lean Six Sigma was up against it.

Lean Six Sigma projects comprise aspects of Lean’s waste elimination and the Six Sigma DMAIC phases:

  • Define – Projects are outlined, elements of waste are identified, and the management decisions required to move the project forward.
  • Measure – Used to quantify existing processes before applying analytical techniques to calculate potential capability.
  • Analyse – Uses advanced statistical analysis and hypothesis testing to model how processes may be improved.
  • Improve – Uses advanced modelling and experimentation techniques to identify changes that will deliver the greatest business benefits.
  • Control – Monitors the progress of changes applied and records any deviations from the predicted benefits, allowing process managers to take immediate action.

Training for Lean Six Sigma is provided through a belt based training system, similar to that of Six Sigma, and most martial arts you can think of. Belt personnel are designated as white belts, yellow belts, green belts, black belts and master black belts.

And, for now, that’s all she wrote. The fat lady has sung. Until tomorrow, when I will be running you guys through ITIL!