Lean Six Sigma – Definition

Cite this article as:"Lean Six Sigma – Definition," in The Business Professor, updated March 23, 2019, last accessed June 2, 2020, https://thebusinessprofessor.com/lesson/lean-six-sigma-definition/.


Lean Six Sigma Definition

Lean Six Sigma (LSS) is a comprehensive production method that involves a framework for thorough change in the organizational culture. To improve the performance, it uses a systematic approach for waste removal and bringing down the variations. It is a combination of Six Sigma and lean manufacturing to dispose of eight different types of waste. These eight types of waste are from different departments (1) Overproduction, (2) Inventory, (3) Defects, (4) Waiting, (5) Extra-Processing, (6) Non-Utilized Talent, (7) Motion, and (8) Transportation.

All types of waste and defects are reduced with the help of LSS (Lean Six Sigma). It also provides a model that helps to change the organizational working culture. Lean manufacturing and Six Sigma is a managerial concept of synergized working that improves organizational production.

A Little More on What is Lean Six Sigma

The debut of Lean Six Sigma in the United States of America is associated with Motorola Company operations. Its use started in 1986 and the purpose behind its use was to compete with the business model of Japanese company Kaizen. In 1990, Larry Bossidy was hired by Allied Signal company to implement Six Sigma for heavy manufacturing purposes. Jack Welch from General Electric’s consulted with Bossidy and brought the concept of using Six Sigma in the organization. In 2000, Lean Six Sigma was formed as a separate branch of Six Sigma. From the beginning of 2000, the use of Six Sigma was extended to use in other sectors such as supply chain, finance, healthcare, etc.  

Lean Six Sigma establishes the principles of lean and six sigma to improve production quality, to cut down the production costs, to increase the operational competitiveness,   production process and to save money. Six Sigma decreases parts variations while Lean focuses on cost reduction by using methods of waste reduction. The combination of lean and six sigma produce organized solutions that are cost-effective and improve parts production.

Lean is famous as it systematically assists to eliminate manufacturing waste and to improve service delivery for customers. Lean helps in processes such as Kanban, schedule leveling, production time reduction, visual management, error proofing, setups, 5s, reduced lot size etc.

Six Sigma is used with an efficiency enhancement objective and to minimize production problems. The decrease in defective production and services enhancement boost revenue along with customer’s satisfaction. Lean Six Sigma, indeed, improvise all organizational processes either related to services or production.

References for Lean Six Sigma

Academic Research on Lean Six Sigma

Lean six sigma in healthcare, De Koning, H., Verver, J. P., van den Heuvel, J., Bisgaard, S., & Does, R. J. (2006). Journal for Healthcare Quality, 28(2), 4-11. In this paper, the writer highlights the mechanism that how Lean Six Sigma can be implemented in the healthcare sector to improve services structure.

The evolution of lean Six Sigma, Pepper, M. P., & Spedding, T. A. (2010). International Journal of Quality & Reliability Management, 27(2), 138-155. This paper elaborates the use of lean implementation and its “toolbox” in different industrial sectors in the light of various case studies and how Lean is integrated with Six Sigma. The study finds that little research has been carried on the integration process of both methods. This research provides a conceptual model that is based on the integrated model of Lean and Six Sigma that increases operational success.  

Lean, six sigma and lean sigma: fads or real process improvement methods?, Näslund, D. (2008). Business Process Management Journal, 14(3), 269-287. The research makes a comparison between Lean and Six Sigma in the context of TQM and JIT. The conceptual framework has been investigated in the light of academic researches carried in the past 3 decades and focuses if any success and change is possible using the model.

Lean Six Sigma–getting better all the time, Snee, R. D. (2010). International Journal of Lean Six Sigma, 1(1), 9-29. In this study, the writer articulates the historical context behind the formation of Lean Six Sigma, its benefits, working mechanism, integration of Lean and Six Sigma, mistakes made during implementation and future scope of further developments.

Using a Lean Six Sigma approach to drive innovation, Byrne, G., Lubowe, D., & Blitz, A. (2007). Strategy & Leadership, 35(2), 5-10. The research points out five-years success details of using Lean Six Sigma for improved operational processes, product innovation, better services and improvements in the organizational business model.

The integration of lean management and Six Sigma, Arnheiter, E. D., & Maleyeff, J. (2005). The TQM magazine, 17(1), 5-18. The research highlights different misconceptions related to the use of Lean and Six Sigma. It also adds the concepts and techniques used for their successful implementation. The research further explores how organizations can benefit from using Six Sigma and Leans as a synergized process.

Applying lean six sigma in a small engineering company–a model for change, Thomas, A., Barton, R., & Chuke-Okafor, C. (2008). Journal of Manufacturing Technology Management, 20(1), 113-129. Lean and Six Sigma strategies increase business performance. The details concerning the implementation of Lean strategy and Six Sigma strategy separately is available but little is known about the integrated strategy. This paper sheds light on the development of integrated LSS strategy for a successful manufacturing business.

A conceptual model for the successful deployment of Lean Six Sigma, Hilton, R. J., & Sohal, A. (2012). International Journal of Quality & Reliability Management, 29(1), 54-70. The research throws light on the successful implementation of Lean and Six Sigma and increasing competence related to production and services management. The research produces a conclusive evidence that LSS is a major source for manufacturing improvement.

Lean Six Sigma, creativity, and innovation, Hoerl, R. W., & Gardner, M. M. (2010). International Journal of Lean Six Sigma, 1(1), 30-38. In this research, the writer explores available literature on the role of LSS in the context of innovation and implementation. The writer also compares and evaluates contrasts exist in different approaches to establish a common ground for LSS. Business media focus on innovative LSS concepts in business altering old establish approaches. This paper examines media reports in relation to LSS business innovation and creativity concepts.  

Critical success factors for Lean Six Sigma programmes: a view from middle management, Manville, G., Greatbanks, R., Krishnasamy, R., & Parker, D. W. (2012). International Journal of Quality & Reliability Management, 29(1), 7-20. The research has been carried out to highlight the learning capabilities development procedure in middle management. The empowerment to formulate the business strategy and to improve business processes would result positively. An organization requires more competitiveness to compete with other businesses. Due to this reason, the importance of using Six Sigma practically and has increased. This paper evaluates the use of Six Sigma with the perspective of the middle manager.

Lean Six Sigma in financial services, De Koning, H., Does, R. J., & Bisgaard, S. (2008). International Journal of Six Sigma and Competitive Advantage, 4(1), 1-17. The author throws light on the role of Lean Six Sigma us for improved financial services for a better economic outcome.

Applying Lean Six Sigma and TRIZ methodology in banking services, Wang, F. K., & Chen, K. S. (2010). Total Quality Management, 21(3), 301-315. Almost 80% of the US GDP is from services operations and there is rapid global growth in revenue from services field. The cost of services are higher and have been seen as a hindrance to cost reduction policies. Lean Six Sigma provides the solution in this context and the integration of LSS with TRIZ (Theoria Resheneyva Isobretatelskehuh Zadach) model can alter traditions techniques. TRIZ better helps to identify customer needs and proposes innovative solutions to counter any services problems in the banking sector. The combination of the DMAIC process in Lean Six Sigma and TRIZ produce effective services solutions for the banking sector.

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