What is the Difference Between Lean Six Sigma and Six Sigma?

Lean Six Sigma and Six Sigma use the same toolsMany people ask, “What is the difference between Lean Six Sigma and Six Sigma?”  It should be known that the two methodologies are simply an integration of one into another. Lean Six Sigma is Six Sigma with elements of Lean integrated into its curriculum. Because the two methodologies go hand in hand, they are perfect compliments to one another.

Are they different? Lean and Six Sigma? Yes, they are different in that they use different methods to achieve similar objectives.  However, some may argue that they are the same in that they deliver similar results or that at their core they both intend to eliminate waste and defects, reduce variation, and establish consistency, predictability and reliability.

Lean methodologies focus on waste identification and removal.  Lean seeks to establish flow and pull production systems and most importantly end to end value systems that deliver only value to the customer. Lean uses techniques that are intended to eliminate waste in all forms (e.g. defects, over production, transportation, waiting, inventory, motion and over processing) Thus, lean creates efficiency, productivity, reduced costs and increased quality.

Six Sigma intends to identify root causes to problems and combats variability, it will reduce variation, defects and special cause events through the application of experiential tools and statistical analysis.  These “tools” are deployed through a rigorous 5 stage project management methodology referred to as D.M.A.I.C (Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve and Control).  Used successfully, Six Sigma achieves process consistency and stability, reduced defects, improved quality and lower operating expenses.

Together, Lean and Six Sigma truly accomplish the same end results that all businesses are interested in…Lower Costs, Higher Margins, Higher Quality.  Are Lean and Six Sigma the same? No, but they do achieve the same business results. Can they be effectively used together? ABSOLUTELY! Hence the birth of the approach Lean Six Sigma.

So now you know, what is the difference between Lean Six Sigma and Six Sigma? It’s the integration of Lean techniques into the DMAIC methodology. Together, Six Sigma and Lean are a powerhouse of capabilities.  As a result, anyone who has learned how to wield these capabilities are extremely valuable to any organization in any industry.

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