Lean Six Sigma

Lean Six Sigma typed on paper
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Unlike traditional Six Sigma, Lean Six Sigma uses some of the methodologies from lean manufacturing along with the Six Sigma approach. Many organizations see Lean Six Sigma as the evolution of the Six Sigma methodology rather than a modification.

Six Sigma has been developed over the last thirty years and has become the de facto methodology to eliminate defects from a process and improve the quality of the manufacturing process. The objective of the methodology is the implementation of a measurement-based strategy that focuses on process improvement and variation reduction. Lean Six Sigma takes the fundamentals of Six Sigma and incorporates the cost reduction principles of Lean Manufacturing.

Basics of Lean Six Sigma

The Six Sigma approach looks at getting organizations to perform their processes in a more efficient manner to reduce defects. The next step for organizations is not only to improve processes but to make them more cost efficient or to adopt more efficient processes; this is the basis for Lean Six Sigma. As the marketplace tightens and companies are fighting for every dollar of revenue, they need to adopt innovative methods to create more efficient processes that will give them a competitive edge of their closest rivals; this is the basis for Lean Six Sigma.

Success Using Lean Six Sigma

Many companies are adopting Lean Six Sigma and having great success not only in manufacturing but in other industries including service industries. This is due to the fact that Lean looks at the needs of the customer and making the customer happy not only benefits the relationship with that customer but the process used to achieve that will help to increase customer satisfaction for current as well as future customers.

Lean Design for Six Sigma (LDFSS)

The design for six sigma (DFSS) is used widely in Six Sigma projects as it gives the customers requirements significant weight in the process. This allows the needs of the customer to be a part of the process change which helps customer satisfaction. The Lean Design for Six Sigma (LDFSS) covers the full life-cycle of any product or service. It commences when an organization formally agrees on a requirement for a product or service and ends when it is in full commercial delivery. The LDFSS has seven main areas that should be followed:

  1. Identify Customer Requirements – the team will identify “critical to quality” (CTQ) for the customer, the business, and the technical specifications.
  2. Estimate Baseline – the team will work on benchmarking, patent searches, product scorecards, value stream map, and process maps.
  3. Determine Functional Requirements – the team will work on a Design Failure Modes Effect Analysis (FMEA), which is used to analyze a product design before it is released to manufacturing.
  4. Generate, Evaluate, Select Design & Process Concept – the team will adopt a number of methods in when working in this area such as TRIZ or 3P (waste elimination through the simultaneous design of production, preparation and process).
  5. Optimize Design and Process Concepts – the team will use a number of proof of concept techniques, such as front-end analysis (FEA), the design of experiments (DOE), simulation or analytical models.
  6. Verify, Design and Process – the method allows the team to look at a Process Failure Modes Effect Analysis (PFMEA), develop a production part approval process (PPAP), and produce a Design Verification Plan and Report (DVP&R).
  7. Maintain The Gains – after a successful launch, a control plan should be implemented to periodically review the product or service to ensure that the improvements in quality or customer service are being maintained and built upon.


The Lean Six Sigma process combines the best of Six Sigma and Lean. As a combined approach, it uses the strongest parts of each and reduces the limitations of each approach when they are used in isolation. The Lean Six Sigma process is extremely useful for those service companies that want to gain the benefits of Six Sigma while increasing customer satisfaction.