Lean Six Sigma

1.What is Lean?

Lean is basically a philosophy that aims at reducing the wastage and maximizing the values being delivered to the customers. ‘Value‘ means what the customers need and expect and are willing to pay for. ‘Value stream‘ means all the resources, processes, and activities to convert the inputs to outputs that are sellable to customers. The output of a value stream is only as fast as the slowest processing step. This slowest processing step is called ‘Bottleneck‘. The aim of lean sigma is to improve the value stream by eliminating waste.

There are 8 types of wastes in the value stream, given by the acronym: TIM WOODS. TIM WOODS stands for Transport, Inventory, Motion, Waiting, Overproduction, Overprocessing, Defects, and Skills underutilized.

8 types of wastes in a value stream

2. What is Lean Six Sigma?

Lean is all about waste reduction while the primary focus of Six Sigma is effectiveness and optimizing the performance. Thus, Lean Six Sigma is like Mix Martial Arts (MMA) where the bests of two philosophies are implemented to provide values to the customers.

What is Lean Six Sigma?

Just like Six Sigma, here also we have DMAIC levels for Lean Six Sigma. However, there are some extra tools for the DMAIC steps of Lean Six Sigma. The following diagram briefly sums up the things that can be implemented in the ‘Measure’ phase of a Lean Six Sigma project.

Measure phase of Lean Six Sigma project

3. Define Phase of Lean Six Sigma

A project charter documents the goals, milestones, the team members, the financials, scope, and focus of the project. A team member is not involved in drafting a project charter. The project charter is drafted by the project champion and the project leader. The components of a Project Charter are:

  • Project name
  • Problem Statement
  • Goal statement: Goal should be SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time bound). As a rule of thumb, the duration of lean six sigma projects should not exceed 6 months.
  • Expected financial benefits
  • Project Scope
  • Milestones
  • Deadlines
  • Signatures: Typically 3 signatures are required. These are the signatures of the Project Champion, Project leader, someone from finance to validate the financials involved in the project.

The project team develops a SIPOC diagram and CTQs (Critical to Quality) requirements. The project leader also develops a stakeholder analysis and communication plan.

The project leader quantifies the cost of waste or the cost of poor quality (COPQ). COPQ is the sum of associated costs lost due to the wastages. COPQ is important for management to maintain the company financials.


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