Six Sigma vs. Lean Consulting: Understanding the Differences

Directors of Manufacturing are no strangers to the concept of continuous improvement. The desire for streamlined operations and increased efficiencies is a constant goal. The market pressure to perform can be intense, leaving little room for error. Two popular methodologies that aim to increase operational efficiency are Six Sigma and Lean Thinking. While both aim to improve processes, they are not the same. In this blog post, we will discuss the differences between Six Sigma and Lean Thinking and how businesses can obtain their Lean Green Belt. 

Six Sigma is a data-driven methodology that focuses on eliminating defects in a process or product. It aims to bring the process or product to near perfection by implementing statistical analysis to identify and eliminate variations in a process. 

 Six Sigma follows a structured approach known as DMAIC (Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, Control) to identify and solve problems. It was first introduced by Motorola in the 1980s and later popularized by General Electric in the 1990s.

Lean Thinking, on the other hand, focuses on creating value for the customer by reducing waste, increasing efficiency, and optimizing workflow. It follows a set of principles commonly known as the Toyota Production System. Lean Thinking identifies waste in processes such as overproduction, waiting, defects, over-processing, excess inventory, unnecessary motion, and unused talent. The goal of Lean Thinking is to create a more efficient, productive, and sustainable operation.

 The differences between Six Sigma and Lean Thinking are not in the end-goal but in the approach to reaching it. Six Sigma aims to reduce variation in a process to achieve near-perfection, while Lean Thinking aims to optimize the workflow to achieve efficiency and improve customer value. Both methodologies have proven effective in different scenarios, but they are not interchangeable.

In a world where we hear the phrasing of "Lean Six Sigma" all the time, it can be easy to confuse the two. 

For a process to be properly fixed, it must be stable and consistent. If there is no standard work for example, and each operator performs the task their own way, there is no perfect solution that will address all the random inputs. Lean Thinking is a way to create a stable process with structured methods, times, WIP, etc. After applying Lean Thinking well, the process is ready for Six Sigma tools to be applied.  

Obtaining a Lean Green Belt is a smart investment for businesses looking to improve their operations and customer satisfaction. The 4-day training provides the leadership of all levels the skills to create a more efficient, productive, and sustainable operation. Combining the principles of Six Sigma and Lean Consulting can lead to a comprehensive approach to process improvement and continuous innovation.

Acquiring a Lean Green Belt is beneficial to your business because it helps you build a deep understanding around building processes that enable your team to run without the constant need for your input. 

To obtain a Lean Green Belt, businesses can invest in Lean Consulting training courses that teach the principles of Lean - you can do this by contacting us at Industrial Solutions as soon as you’re ready, or by attending one of our open enrollment courses. 

Industrial Solutions specializes primarily in Lean Thinking Consulting because of the results we bring our clients by helping them deliver ever-increasing value to their customers.

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