But it’s important not to confuse your concepts or even lose focus by splitting Lean Six Sigma process improvement between the two, and end up not using either approach correctly.
In this post, we’ll point out the key differences between Lean and Six Sigma, then show what exactly these two ways of analyzing processes are based on and then show you ways they can be improved.
Lean Six Sigma Process Improvement
The difference of approaches: less waste vs. more quality
Lean and Six Sigma process improvement methods present simple differences. But there is one critical consideration to keep in mind when using them.
It can even be said that, despite this difference, the Lean and Six Sigma methodologies complement each other.
The Lean approach aims to make processes leaner and more agile by reducing the interval between activities.
As the processes follow in production cycles, by decreasing the time between tasks, the cycles will be faster and will occur more times in the same time interval.
To achieve this, the Lean method seeks to eliminate waste, which we will detail later.
The Six Sigma methodology aims to eliminate defects, improve quality and better serve customers.
For this, it has five steps, which we will also explain later.
Check Out: Lean Performance Improvement: A Guide
The 7 Wastes to Avoid in a Lean Process:
By controlling each of these wastes and trying to avoid them, a process will become increasingly lean and agile.
- Defects: When a product or service doesn’t meet customer specifications, it will generate waste when trying to repair the error.
- Waiting: When you no longer perform a process task because someone hasn’t made a previous delivery (a resource, information, authorization, or other), it’s clear that delays and waste will result.
- Unused Talent: Underutilized or unrecognized human resources are one of the worst wastes that can happen in a company.
- Transport: Whenever you can avoid transportation, do it. This should occur by installing stock areas near production, near the assembly line adjacent to the dispatch room, for example.
- Inventory: Stock left unnecessarily, is a total waste of resources that you could use in other activities. Tidying this up will also save on storage space, insurance, leasing and other expenses.
- Movement: Optimize the flow of information and resources. This will lead to a reduction in risks, making the operation agiler and even transparent in some cases.
- Extra Processing: If an electric wire is safe enough for its destination with a 1mm rubber cover, producing it with more than that is unnecessary extra processing, featuring waste.
The 5 Steps of Six Sigma:
Reduce defects and ensure a high level of quality. But where do you start?
The Six Sigma methodology begins by defining where the company most needs to eliminate errors and defects, and then proceeds to the other steps, see:
- Define: Find out which company processes add more value to the production chain and should present the best level of quality possible.
- Measure: Objectively and reliably measure the performance of these processes.
- Analyze: Analyze the information collected to discover the origin – the causes of nonconformities – to define where opportunities for improvement are.
- Improve: Correct and prevent defects using process optimization.
- Control: Continuously check whether the implemented improvements are having the desired effects and check for new optimization opportunities.
Without a doubt, practicing Lean Six Sigma process improvement with employees in a complementary way can give you satisfactory results.
And if you can rely on a BPMN tool to design these processes with agility and precision, they’ll be better still.