Both Six Sigma and Lean are global phenomenons used by organizations worldwide. While you may not know the differences between Six Sigma and Lean yet, one thing is clear: both methods have helped organizations improve processes, reduce costs, and increases organizational efficiency.
To understand the difference between the two, it’s important to take a closer look at Six Sigma and Lean individually.
How Lean and Six Sigma differ
Ultimately, Lean and Six Sigma both aim to eliminate waste, but use different approaches to achieve this goal. Lean asserts that unnecessary steps in the production process that do not add value create waste. One the other hand, those who practice Six Sigma view waste as a result of variation within processes.
In statistics, sigma is a term that measures how far a process deviates from perfection. The overall goal of Six Sigma is to:
- Determine how many defects there are in a process
- Systematically eliminate these defects
- Achieve as close to zero defects, or perfection, as possible
Developed at Motorola in the 1980s, Six Sigma aims to eliminate waste and inefficiency by systematically eliminating defects in a process. The entire Six Sigma methodology is based on:
- Defining areas for improvement
- Measuring and mapping the process
- Performing analysis
- Making improvements
- Controlling variables to achieve better results in the future
The Lean approach streamlines production processes by eliminating wastes. The modern lean approach dates back to the early 1900s with Henry Ford. However, the Toyota refined and established the practice as it’s used today in the 1930s.
A Lean company dedicate themselves to achieving optimum performance with the least amount of effort and energy. Lean involves focusing on the customer’s needs and wants and eliminating parts of the process that do not add value or that a customer would not be willing to pay for. This approach results in a high-profitability and efficiency.
Lean and Six Sigma are similar, so you will often see them combined into Lean Six Sigma. This approach uses both methodologies in tandem for increased efficiency, and sometimes even greater results.
Lean Six Sigma
Lean Six Sigma is a type of certification that provides the training and skills of both Lean and Six Sigma. You’ll learn the important methodologies of both processes and learn how to implement them in almost any organization. Whether you work in healthcare, manufacturing, energy, IT, or business management, the methods you learn will help you make valuable improvements within your organization.
Which is right for you?
The traditional Lean approach is most effective in a manufacturing environment, while Six Sigma can be applied to almost any business process. If you want to increase work flow, then you should consider Lean but if you want to streamline process, Six Sigma might be the best way to go. No matter which certification or combination you ultimately choose, working to improve your business functions, focusing on efficiency, producing a higher quality product, and focusing on your customer, will be sure to help you win.
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