What is Lean Six Sigma?
Lean and Six Sigma are two process improvement methodologies which, when used together become extremely powerful business transformational tools.
Businesses all over Ireland are adopting Lean Six Sigma to maximise their organisation’s potential, increase team morale and effectiveness, and minimise waste and downtime.
This article answers the popular question, "What is Lean Six Sigma?", outlines how you can get started with process improvement, and points you in the direction of other helpful articles.
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What is the difference between Lean and Six Sigma?
Lean and Six Sigma are separate methodologies. They originated in different places and at different times, and they can be used independently.
A very general description would note that Lean targets waste, while Six Sigma works on reducing variation.
To understand why they are so dynamic together and fully answer the question "what is Lean Six Sigma?", let’s look at them in more detail individually, and then combined.
What is Lean?
Origins of Lean
The concept of “lean manufacturing” and eliminating waste from processes has been around since before the 20th century.
However, Lean as we know it today was established in the early 1990s, growing from the TPS (Toyota Production System).
Lean started out in the manufacturing sector. It was an approach for streamlining production by eliminating any unnecessary or wasteful elements of the production process.
Today, Lean has travelled expanded far beyond its origins. It is now widely implemented in all sectors of industry and business.
How Does Lean Work?
Lean targets waste, eliminating anything that is “non-value add” from your processes.
Using the 8 wastes as a guiding point, a Lean approach will consider all elements and stages within a process.
This evaluation carefully determinines which parts of the process are value-add and essential to quality and productivity, and which elements are considered ‘waste’.
What are the 8 Wastes?
- Non-utilised talent
What is Six Sigma?
Origins of Six Sigma
Six sigma was first introduced within Motorola in 1986.
Its name refers to a statistical concept on the number of defects per million repetitions of a process, or outputs of a product.
Six Sigma is a goal to work towards, the ideal low level of variations and defects per million opportunities (DPMO).
How Does Six Sigma Work?
Many refer to Six Sigma as “problem solving”. Six Sigma is used to identify flaws, variations, or defects in a process, and to correct them.
Using the DMAIC Cycle (Define, Measure, Analyse, Implement, Control), a process can be mapped and analysed to identify and resolve issues or flaws.
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How do Lean and Six Sigma work together?
You can see how both Lean and Six Sigma would be very effective even when used alone.
However, the two methodologies work so well together, that they are almost better known as the combination "Lean Six Sigma" than as standalone methods.
Lean helps you to streamline processes, while Six Sigma works to improve quality by reducing errors or variations. Both methods focus on developing optimally performing processes.
Let’s look at some of the benefits they can achieve when they are implemented together...
What are the Benefits of Lean Six Sigma?
You'll gain so many benefits from correctly implementing Lean Six Sigma.
You can read more in-depth information in our article, Lean Six Sigma Savings and Benefits, but we’ve grouped the highlights below to give you an overview.
- Less Waste, Defects & Variation
- Lower Costs
- More Savings
- Increased Profits
- Improved Efficiency
- Higher Team Engagement
- Better Processes
- Consistent Quality
- Shorter Cycle Times
- Problem Solving Skills
- Faster Lead Times
- Increased Capacity
Lean Six Sigma Belts
Lean six sigma belts help to define roles and establish a structure for your process improvement projects and strategy.
There are several different roles, and without a little explanation, it’s impossible to know where you want to channel your energy.
Here's a quick overview of the different belt levels and roles:
White Belt Has a foundational level of Lean Six Sigma knowledge. Often a recommended level of training for everyone in a business, whether they work on Lean Six Sigma projects or not.
Yellow Belt Has a good understanding of how to apply Lean Six Sigma. Can contribute actively to a process improvement project.
Green Belt Has a strong level of Lean Six Sigma knowledge. Can manage process improvement projects with skill and confidence.
Black Belt Experienced Lean Six Sigma practitioner. Mentors other belt levels and manages process improvement at a cross-functional level.
Master Black Belt Very advanced level of Lean Six Sigma knowledge and experience. Manages process improvement at an organisational, strategic level.
Champion Usually the executive leadership team. Supportive and invested in cultivating a strong process improvement culture across the business.
You can get a more in-depth look at the different roles by reading our article, Lean Six Sigma Belts and Roles
Getting Started with Lean Six Sigma
To get started on your Lean Six Sigma journey, you can take either of the paths below.
You can choose a path focusing on Lean Six Sigma training as an individual, or one designed to introduce or progress a Lean Six Sigma culture in your organisation.
Lean Six Sigma For Your Career
Path 1: Training & Certifying as an Individual
We offer 3 public Lean Six Sigma Courses
, with dates available
throughout the year. Each focuses on meeting you wherever you are on your Lean Six Sigma path.
Our Yellow Belt course is ideal if you want to begin learning about Lean Six Sigma.
It’s a practical, 2-day course focused on giving you an introduction to the core principles of Lean. You’ll gain skills you can use immediately and a Yellow Belt certificate.
This course runs almost every month in Dublin, and no experience is required to attend.
Over 5 days, you’ll gain a strong understanding of Lean Six Sigma, and learn how to actively contribute to process improvement projects in any environment.
If you have experience in process improvement and want to gain a more advanced understanding and capability, our Black Belt programme may be the perfect choice.
Over 5 short, intensive instalments we cover the skills and knowledge needed to drive continuous improvement at Black Belt level.
Lean Six Sigma For Your Team
Path 2: Lean Six Sigma and Your Organisation
Lean Six Sigma in-company training requires a more tailored approach.
Our training consultants are skilled in creating customised Lean Six Sigma training solutions that align with the unique requirements of each client.
In-Company Training Solution
We provide a full range of Lean Six Sigma in-company workshops and certified courses.
Click below to find out more about the kind of courses we offer, or to request your in-company training quotation.
What clients say about our Lean Six Sigma Online Courses
Here's what some of our recent participants on live virtual Lean Six Sigma courses had to say about their experience:
I received good support from Professional Development, from booking this course, for making sure I was prepared for this course before it began and in the aftermath of taking this course. I would highly recommend anyone else do a course with Professional Development, as both their training and administration team offered me high quality support throughout my training.
Programme was very well organised – specifically, with the extensive use of the Dropbox, I could easily access any slides, supporting documents etc. both during and after the training. Content was provided in a clear and concise manner – there was ample support and clarification being provided by the trainer any time anything was unclear.
I would rate the service provided to me by my training consultant plus the booking process 10/10. I was given ample information to access the course, supporting documentation and slides to navigate the course content and any queries I had in relation to the course were responded to quickly and efficiently.
One of the strengths of this course that was greatly appreciated was the constant discussion around the assignments. Once new information was covered in the course, the assignments would be reviewed and any questions asked around what was required. Another strength of this course was the well organised Dropbox, which made following along with the slides and reading documents outside course hours incredibly accessible.
The live virtual classroom worked well beyond my expectations. A few exercises, especially team exercises, could have been improved if they were held in-person, however taking the current situation into mind, the virtual classroom worked smoothly, team exercises were easy to co-ordinate and apart from minor technology issues, the overall experience was good.
I had a very good experience and impression of the course. The trainer was very clear in explaining various subjects and the discussions & exercises were very productive.
This experience helps to give me a structure or a defined approach to analyse and or solve problems arising in my field of work.
Strengths of the course were theory & practice given; the virtual delivery was very good and interactive, exceeding my expectations.
The course was very good and the trainer excellent. Some discussions & exercises were very useful and I liked spending time on my project and hearing about other projects in the break outs.
Virtual delivery was very good and I don’t think face to face would have been any better. It’s a heavy topic and I don’t think face to face would have improved that.
My experience with Professional Development was very positive, the course was well organised, training consultant 5/5 and the trainer is experienced, with a really good voice, easy to listen to.
The Six-Sigma Lean green belt course was fantastic. The coach was incredible, very patient, open to questions and extremely helpful. Also, after the course he was always available by email for questions and comments.
The course was well organised and structure, lots of good material and very professionally delivered.
I will definitely recommend it. I'm really, really happy and now considering the next level, black belt.
Other Helpful Articles
If you'd like to learn more about Lean, Six sigma, and process improvement, the articles below will give you a variety of perspectives.
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