Integrating Six Sigma and Lean

Practitioners of Six Sigma and Lean, or of one or the other, have often wandered how to integrate the two concepts in a single business enterprise. According to a news article published by I-Newswire, it is important to first understand the definitions of both Six Sigma and Lean, and then think of a practical methodology to put both of them into practice.

The definitions of the two concepts are many and varied, and for the present purpose it would be a good approach to adopt the “purest” definitions. Regarding Lean, the first thing that needs to be understood is that it is a way of thinking about business conduct, and not a tool in itself. In the Lean way of thinking, the customer is at the focus of all activity, and the value attached to a service or product by the customer is all-important. On identifying such value of a set of services or products, a good practice would be to eliminate the “non-value” elements, so that the customer reaps the maximum benefit. In the process, Lean practices promote cost cuts and a step-up in quality deliverance.

Six Sigma, on the other hand, is an analytical tool that purges the system of it inconsistencies in delivering services or products of value. Practitioners of Six Sigma need an effective plan in place, which helps them remove inconsistencies and variations in the production system.

From this understanding, it is clear that both Lean and Six Sigma can contribute together to adding value to a service or product, and by economizing the use of money, time, and energy. For example, the primary Lean tool called Enterprise Value Stream Mapping can help implement a plan of action, and Six Sigma exponents can work on the basis of this plan to further the goals of the business process.

According to Lean Advisors Inc., EnterpriseValueStreamMapping™ provides a complete map of the enterprise and allows a business enterprise to design a more effective future state implementation plan. The value stream map encourages an organization to make total system transformations as against point improvements.