What is Lean?
The term “Lean” is derived from Lean Manufacturing or Lean Production and it became highly popular in the 1990’s and has remained so till this date.
Lean is defined as the reduction of waste within a process or system using a systematic and continuous approach. The resulting benefits include reduction in lead-time to get a product or service to the customer and significantly reduced costs. Many refer to the 5 Lean principles, which is a 5 step process developed to take an organisation towards a Lean culture. Within each of the Lean principles, various tools and techniques are utilised to reduce wastes. These techniques include 5S, 7 Wastes and Value Stream Mapping.
The philosophy and roots of Lean can be traced back to Toyota Production System (TPS) from the 1960’s. Lean takes many of the TPS principles and enhances them with additional methods using a more structured approach. However, the ethos of changing the culture at all organizational levels and empowerment remains.
In recent years the implementation of Lean has spread to many services sectors including Healthcare, Governmental, Financial Services and Utlilities, with many success stories and similar benefits in terms of customer delivery and reduced costs
What is Six Sigma?
Six Sigma was originally developed by Motorola in the mid 1980’s and it is popular in virtually all industry sectors. It is a focused business improvement approach aimed at all levels of an organisation with the fundamental aim to identify and significantly reduce the number of defects. Initially it was deployed within manufacturing but has subsequently broadened to other business sectors and functions including finance and customer services.
Six Sigma as an approach focuses on reducing the level of variation within processes and the term “six sigma” originates from the principles of process capability. It is deemed that for a process to exhibit Six Sigma quality it must operate with defect levels which are less than 3.4 defects per million opportunities (DPMO). This is seen as the desired standard for world class companies to aspire to and meet. Six Sigma also incorporates the philosophy of data driven decision-making, which avoid assumptions and guesswork wherever possible.
Motorola’s success with Six Sigma (savings in excess of $17 Billion over the last 20 years) has influenced many thousands of other organisations to embrace the principle of the Six Sigma approach most notably General Electric (GE) and Honeywell. The main reasons for this success are that Six Sigma follows a structured approach, which has a clear customer focus on achieving measurable financial returns for a defined project. It combines this with an ethos of strong management commitment, training and support. Each project has a defined team which contains champions (usually influential company members), Black Belts (project trainers and leaders) and Green Belts (project implementers). We can provide training and consultancy to enable you to create your own team and internal capability.