Lean Six Sigma Made Simple
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By Rebecca Langdon
Lean Six Sigma sounds complicated but in reality it is a methodology to improve processes, remove
defects, and move towards perfect production. The concept itself was developed by Motorola’s Bill
Smith in 1986, but is was GE’s Jack Welch who brought it into mainstream organisational business
strategy. Over time it has transformed into a management approach, but at its core it is a set of tools
and quality management techniques. It uses metrics, and empirical evidence to distinguish areas of
weakness/opportunity, looks at ways to address that, make the change, and then embed that into
the organisation. One of the key models referred to in Lean Six Sigma is DMAIC; this model describes the
process in practical terms.
1- Define Opportunities
What are you trying to solve?
What is the potential improvement opportunity?
2 - Measure Performance
In this phase a data collection plan should be produced. A baseline will be established
and metrics for measurement will be agreed upon. It would be useful at this point to carry
out a root cause analysis.
3- Analyze Opportunity
Once the data has been collected, the results can be evaluated. In practical terms this
phase will happens in conjunction with the prior phase.
4- Improve Performance
This is the time to develop an elegant solution to improve performance. The process should
be adjusted to remove the defect which was established in the first stage.
5- Control Performance
Continued measurement and processes should be put in place to ensure that the newly
achieved improvement is maintained. At this stage a Six Sigma team would be handing the
change to the operational teams to maintain.
If used correctly, Lean Six Sigma could offer vast cost and process efficiencies to an organization. To
learn more about Lean Six Sigma you might consider taking a formalised course.