Lean Six Sigma

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Lean Six Sigma is a methodology that relies on a collaborative team effort to improve performance by systematically removing waste [1] and reducing variation. It combines lean manufacturing/lean enterprise and Six Sigma to eliminate the eight kinds of waste (muda):

  • Transporting
  • Inventory
  • Motion
  • Waiting
  • Over-Processing
  • Over-Production
  • Defects
  • Under Utilization of employees
Six sigma-2.svg



What was today to become Lean Six Sigma can be traced to Motorola in the United States in 1986 to compete with the Kaizen business model in Japan. Ever since World War 2 Japan was experiencing an economic boom and Japanese products at the time had a higher quality than American ones. In the 1990s Allied Signal hired Larry Bossidy and introduced Six Sigma in heavy manufacturing. General Electric's Jack Welch consulted Bossidy and began Six Sigma at General Electric.

During the 2000s Lean Six Sigma forked from Six Sigma.


The first concept of Lean Six Sigma was created in 2001 by a book titled Leaning into Six Sigma: The Path to integration of Lean Enterprise and Six Sigma by Barbara Wheat, Chuck Mills, Mike Carnell.[2]

In the early 2000's Six Sigma principles expanded into other sectors of the economy, such as Healthcare, Finance, Supply Chain, etc.


Lean Six Sigma is a synergized managerial concept of Lean and Six Sigma. Lean traditionally focuses on the elimination of the seven kinds of wastes/muda classified as defects, overproduction, transportation, waiting, inventory, motion and over processing. Six Sigma seeks to improve the quality of process outputs by identifying and removing the causes of defects (errors) and minimizing variability in (manufacturing and business) processes. Synergistically, Lean aims to achieve continuous flow by tightening the linkages between process steps while Six Sigma focuses on reducing process variation (in all its forms) for the process steps thereby enabling a tightening of those linkages. In short, Lean exposes sources of process variation and Six Sigma aims to reduce that variation enabling a virtuous cycle of iterative improvements towards the goal of continuous flow.

Lean Six Sigma uses the DMAIC phases similar to that of Six Sigma. Lean Six Sigma projects comprise aspects of Lean's waste elimination and the Six Sigma focus on reducing defects, based on critical to quality characteristics. The DMAIC toolkit of Lean Six Sigma comprises all the Lean and Six Sigma tools. The training for Lean Six Sigma is provided through the belt based training system similar to that of Six Sigma. The belt personnel are designated as white belts, yellow belts, green belts, black belts and master black belts, similar to judo.

Lean Six Sigma organization structure

For each of these belt levels skill sets are available that describe which of the overall Lean Six Sigma tools are expected to be part at a certain Belt level. These skill sets provide a detailed description of the learning elements that a participant will have acquired after completing a training program. The level upon which these learning elements may be applied is also described. The skill sets reflect elements from Six Sigma, Lean and other process improvement methods like the theory of constraints (TOC) total productive maintenance (TPM).


5S is a lean practice used to keep production workspace orderly and keep the work force committed to maintaining order.

Japanese Terms[edit]

  1. Seiri - Put things in order
  2. Seiton - The proper arrangement
  3. Seiso - Clean (keep polished)
  4. Seiketsu - Purity (maintain clean)
  5. Shitsuke - Commitment instilling attitude/atmosphere to maintain 5S

English Terms[edit]

  1. Sort - Get rid of what is not necessary
  2. Straighten - Everything has a place and is in it
  3. Shine - Keep clean machine/workplace
  4. Standardize - Systems and procedures to maintain 1-3
  5. Sustain - Maintain systems/procedures (1-4)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ ""Xerox cuts popular lean six sigma program"". democratandchronicle. Retrieved March 10, 2015. 
  2. ^ Leaning into Six Sigma: The path to integration of Lean Enterprise and Six Sigma. Boulder City, Colorado. 2001. ISBN 978-0971249103. 
  • George, Michael L. (2002). Lean Six Sigma: Combining Six Sigma Quality with Lean Production Speed (1st ed.). McGraw-Hill Education. ISBN 978-0071385213. 
  • George, Michael L.; Rowlands, David; Kastle, Bill (2003). What is Lean Six Sigma?. McGraw-Hill Education. ISBN 978-0071426688. 
  • George, Michael L. (2004). The Lean Six Sigma Pocket Toolbook: A Quick Reference Guide to 100 Tools for Improving Quality and Speed (1st ed.). McGraw-Hill Education. ISBN 978-0071441193. 
  • Kowansky, Elaine; Friberg, Norm (2006). How NOT To Implement Six Sigma: A manager's guide to ensuring the failure of the world's greatest Quality Improvement and Waste Reducing Machine. Xilbris. ISBN 978-1425712266. 
  • Bass, Issa; Lawton, Barbara (2009). Lean Six Sigma Using SigmaXL and Minitab. McGraw-Hill Education. ISBN 978-0071621304. 
  • Pyzdek, Thomas; Keller, Paul (2014). The Six Sigma Handbook, Fourth Edition (4th ed.). McGraw-Hill Education (published May 13, 2014). ISBN 978-0071840538. 
  • Morgan, John; Brenig-Jones, Martin (2015). Lean Six Sigma for Dummies, Third Revised Edition (3rd ed.). John Wiley & Sons (published Nov 6, 2015). ISBN 978-1119067351. 

External links[edit]