Lean Six Sigma

Lean Six Sigma’ is an umbrella term for every combination between the ‘Lean’ and ‘Six Sigma’ methodologies. As an organizational concept the aim of Lean Six Sigma is to continuously improve the speed and quality of processes in order to deliver what the customer wants as accurately as possible against the lowest possible operational costs and with the highest possible flexibility.

Lean Six Sigma can generally be defined in four perspectives: Lean Six Sigma as a process improvement methodology, business improvement approach, collection of process improvement tools and techniques, and as a culture and mindset. Most interpretations of Lean Six Sigma mainly embrace the methodological structure and philosophy of Six Sigma, whilst incorporating relevant and useful elements from those of Lean.

The earliest combinations of ‘Lean’ and ‘Six Sigma’ can be traced to the early 2000’s. One of the most well-known of these is Michael George’s book ‘Lean Six Sigma: Combining Six Sigma quality with Lean production speed’, although there is some debate as to who first proposed combining the two methodologies.

Broadly speaking, the objective of Lean Six Sigma is to reduce variation and waste within an organization’s processes, thus improving speed and quality (in the eyes of the customer). While originally Six Sigma was intended for manufacturing and engineering, Lean Six Sigma has a broader application, being suitable for other industries as well, such as healthcare and services.

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