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What is Lean Six Sigma?

Prashant Magar
Lean Six Sigma is the integration of the two most powerful business management practices which are immensely popular worldwide. Two different management principles, 'Lean' and 'Six Sigma' combined together find wide-scale application in almost all major business processes.
For any productive process, Lean and Six Sigma follow each other, rather compliment each other so that the best product reaches the customer on a consistent basis. Lean technique eliminates sluggishness, and warrants that production of a good or service is speedy and of the highest quality.
Six Sigma technique, on the other hand, concentrates more on ensuring an error-free process. It incorporates certain project management and numerical method analysis, to locate and rectify anomalies.
Getting the end result delivered to the customer in the fastest and the best condition over a period of time is the goal of the combined mechanism, Lean Six Sigma. In order to derive maximum results from its working, both Lean and the Six Sigma concepts have to be analyzed and implemented as independent functions.

Understanding Lean Six Sigma

Speed, quality, a smooth process flow and elimination of flaws are the prime concerns of a Lean Six Sigma project. Accordingly, the strategy focuses on reducing the finances and time involved in generating a quality product. For doing so, it charts a unique way to go about the process.
For example, consider a software industry work process. For any software firm, the core functions such as coding, software development, software testing and sustaining the applications are always the same. Collecting all the requirements of a project, assembling them according to the requirements and finally testing the results on a consistent basis, necessitates a core action plan.
It is important to first plan a basic course of action to go about the plan and build on it as the flow progresses. Streamlining a business practice demands a disciplined approach; whereas a disciplined mechanism can only be the result of a streamlined process.
A Six Sigma procedure owes its beginning to the sample method of testing. Six random samples of a lot manufactured in a factory are tested for their consistency with the standard or ideal product. If the deviation is found to be within the permissible limits the current lot is approved, or else it is rejected and sent back in the process flow for corrections.
Thus, Six Sigma reduced the time and effort required for each and every sample to be tested for quality. Developing on this core idea, a Six Sigma process involves complex and long running business management practices specific to every type of industry.
Toyota Motor Corporation is the best example of what an efficient Lean Six Sigma management practice can facilitate. They are the largest automobile sellers in the world, courtesy a unique Lean Six Sigma application.

A Lean Six Sigma Belt System

A trained and equipped employee base are essential for business growth. Yellow belt is a trained workforce which assists in implementing and running this procedure. These employees are trained through a certified course to assimilate a fundamental know-how about its concept.
Similarly, a green belt set of employees are project improvement and design experts, who work on improving the functionality of the project. It involves the people in higher positions of the hierarchy of any business setup like consultants or project managers, who are directly involved with the application of Lean Six Sigma.
A Black belt is the highest level of proficiency attained in managing and extracting the best out of an organization. These are a technically equipped section of management who are responsible for guiding the course of activities and all the major initiatives of an organization.
All these 'belt grades' are a certified training course which can be taken up by a company or its workforce to incorporate it.
  • Define
  • Measure
  • Analyze
  • Improve
  • Control
The improvement in the Lean Six Sigma methodology is done using these set of principles also known as DMAIC.
Lean Six Sigma is an art to minimize losses and effort for delivering the best output, in order to stay at the pinnacle of any business. From hospitality sector to a military organization, every institution must practice this strategy to run a successful entity.