Lean Sigma Advantages and Deployment Roadmap

Written by: Tan Yong Wah/陈勇华 著

文章类别:制造智慧 |电子期刊号: 2010年第6期 总第18期

Lean manufacturing and Six Sigma methodologies are well known by most practitioners. However, the merits of both management systems recently have drawn the attention of experts to how best to employ their combination to maximize the benefits to organizations.

The marriage of these two techniques from the West (Six Sigma) and the East (Lean) can bring either synergic benefits or disaster to an organization, depending on the practitioners. Let look at the comparison of both, their similarities and differences, in table 1.

Key Elements基础原理

Lean or TPS 精益生产或丰田生产方式

Six Sigma 六西格玛


Maximizing profits利润最大化

Maximizing profits利润最大化

Key Focus 关键因素

Waste Elimination杜绝浪费

Variation Reduction减少偏差

Kaizen Mechanism 改善方法

1. All employees with SGA (Small Group Activities) System全员参与小组活动
2. Kaizen Week (or Kaizen Blitz)改善周或快速改善系列活动

As part of a Six Sigma project by Black Belt or Green Belt 六西格玛黑带或绿带的小组活动

Kaizen Methodologies改善方法论

Setup the Lean House by all means of Kaizen, especially utilizing the VSM tool通过改善的各个工具,尤其是价值流程图分析的方法建立精益小屋

DMAIC Methodologies (Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve and Control)通过DMAIC方法衡量各项指标




Table 1: Comparison summary between Lean and Six Sigma精益生产和六西格玛的比较

Both systems are looking to maximize profits but with different philosophies; Six Sigma is working on variation in order to reduce the cost of poor quality and is thus considered a “Rigorous Advantage”, whereas Lean Manufacturing is working on waste in order to create a better flow within the customer’s defined value stream, hence is considered a “Speed Advantage”.

In term of improvement methodologies, Six Sigma is more focused on project management with DMAIC (Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve and Control) techniques whereas Lean Manufacturing encourages everyone relentlessly towards improvement activities by SGA.

The difference of philosophy and Kaizen mechanisms of both practices implies that they are complementary to each other; hence the creation of the idea of their combination became inevitable.

Obviously, the wide range of Kaizen mechanisms have provided a variety of techniques to Lean Sigma practitioners and the two systems do not in any way interfere with each other; SGA should be positioned to promote a Lean Sigma improvement culture among first line operators, and Kaizen week is a rapid change that objectively transforms the old system to Lean System. The key successes of Kaizen week are a time with a full time commitment team, and the introduction of rapid changes at Genba (shop floor) within a week’s exercise. This means that some white elephant (big machines that unable to make the change immediately) type improvement projects might not suitable to be done using the Kaizen week technique. This dilemma can be solved if we introduce project management type improvement to the organization.

The Lean Sigma DMASS (Define, Measure, Analyze, Solution and Standardization) against Six Sigma DMAIC (Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve and Control) provides additional Lean tools for problem solving besides the Six Sigma statistical toolset alone. The greatest advantage of these is in Improve phase, where they provide more solutions to the problem. For example a project leader can select JIT for an excess inventory problem, and select TPM for low machine utilization and product quality problems. This compares to pure Six Sigma methodology in which a new solution for the problem must always be created. That eventually increases the project execution efficiency and effectiveness to the organization.

As summarized in the above discussion, the Lean Sigma advantages against the pure Lean and Six Sigma management systems can be categorized into 5 key points; these are:

  1. Retaining the Lean Kaizen DNA and good practices (such as SGA activities, standard work, 5S, Visual Management and Training Within Industry).保持了精益生产改善DNA以及实用的实际操作方法(比如小组活动、标准化工作、5S、可视化管理以及一线班组长技能训练)。
  2. Providing more Kaizen mechanisms (such as SGA, Kaizen week and Project management).提供了更多的改善方法(比如小组活动、改善周和项目管理)。
  3. Developing Lean Sigma experts within an organization (such as Lean Sigma Black Belt and Green Belt).在一个企业内部培养精益西格玛的专家(比如精益西格玛黑带和绿带)。
  4. More tool selections for problem solving (such as JIT, TPM, SMED, VSM and waste analysis).对于问题的解决提供了更多可选择的工具(比如准时化生产、全员生产力维护、价值流图以及浪费的分析)。
  5. Synergizing the “Speed” and “Rigorous” elements.加强了“速度”和“严格”相结合的元素。

Let look at the major differences between DMAIC and DMASS, in table 1. The differences are indicated in bold font.


Six Sigma六西格玛

Lean Sigma精益西格玛


  1. Define project from customer’s value从客户所界定的价值出发定义项目
  2. Validate the problem确认问题
  1. Define project from customer’s value从客户所界定的价值出发定义项目
  2. Validate the problem确认问题


  1. Understand today’s problem了解目前的问题
  2. Understand process capacity了解工艺流程的最高产量
  1. Understand today’s problem了解目前的问题
  2. Understand process capacity了解工艺流程的最高产量


  1. Analyze root cause分析根本原因
  1. Analyze root cause分析根本原因
  2. Waste analysis by VSM and Value Added 用价值流图和附加价值对浪费进行分析

Improve/ Solution改善/解决方案

  1. Optimization 最优化
  2. New solution implementation新方案的实施


  1. Optimization 最优化
  2. New solution implementation新方案的实施
  3. Control Plan计划的控制
  4. Lean Solution精益解决方案

Control/ Standardization控制/标准化

  1. Standard Work标准化工作
  2. Control Plan计划的控制
  1. Standard Work标准化工作
  2. 5S and Visual Management 5S和可视化管理
  3. TWI’s Job Instructions and Job Methods TWI的两个模块-工作指导和工作改善


Obviously, Lean Sigma project management provides more key elements for project executions. Let look at more details of each phase of Lean Sigma project management practices.

In Define phase, the major objectives are to define the customer value and project validation. In this phase, keys to learning are project definition, project scoping, project management, project planning, and customer voice and business voice assessment.

The major deliverables of Measure phase are problem confirmation, current situation affirmation in term of process capability and gauging usability. Besides these, simple statistical analysis is applied in order to understand today process behaviors.

In Analyze phase, root cause analysis by 5 Why Analysis, Fishbone Diagram, Graphical Analysis and simple Interference Statistics are mostly practiced. Another powerful tool in Analyze phase is the application of VSM (Value Stream Mapping) with 7 wastes analysis; this is to enrich the user with ideas for problem solving possibilities.

In Solution phase, on top of DOE methodology for input factor optimization, Lean tools are introduced with the purpose of enriching the solution selections for problems, such as JIT, TPM, SMED, Jidoka, Poka-Yoke etc. The major change in the Solution phase compared to Improve phase (pure Six Sigma) is the shifting of Control plan and SPC modules into this phase from Control phase, which is preferable since if you look in more detail at Control plan and SPC modules in fact they behave more like solution tools more than sustaining tools.

Standardization phase emphasizes on work standard, which is a key factor for sustaining the improvement cycle. Besides, maintaining the good practices and Lean Sigma culture of front line employees is another factor for the same purpose, and that can be done by the front line supervisor training on TWI’s 3 modules (JI, JM and JR) and introducing world class shop floor management methods like 5S and Visual Management.

The skills and knowledge developed by this methodology, DMASS, should be transposed effectively into the key employees within the organization, through education by Green and Black Belts. The key difference between Black and Green Belt is that the Black belt basically has a full time commitment to promoting Lean Sigma culture within the organization as well as project execution whereby the Green Belt is a part time Lean Sigma staff member who promotes Lean Sigma functionality as well as project executions.

The proposed deployment road map of Lean Sigma is an initiative for better sustaining business success that I have divided into 4 phases.

Phase 1: Lean Sigma Kick Off

Duration is a week or two. 1st step is to educate the top management or executives on Lean Sigma awareness. Obviously this is to ensure the management are strongly engaged and become the change agents for this cultural transformation; it basically represents 5 days Champion training (some companies call this “Management Belt” training”). The 2nd step is an all-employees kick-off meeting, normally this is an hour’s assembly at which the General Manager or CEO will give the start-up speech and let all employees’ acknowledgement or awareness of Lean Sigma initiative. Sometimes the speech should contain some mildly threatening elements and exhort the help of all employees, such as like this statement: “the company might be overtaken by competitors if we are not fast enough to transform our company for the better and I need all your help…..”

Phase 2: Lean Sigma fundamental set-up

This will take 3 months a period and focuses mainly on 5S and Visual Management introduction to the shop floor. This phase is best carried out in campaign mode in which every line is competed for the best of 5S and Visual Management. Of course rewards should be given out to the best line, and an element which is always being overlooked is forgotten to identify the worst line at the same time. This is critical as the best line is always in the top 3 and some time some front line supervisors are not too bothered about it, but they do care about not coming last place in the competition.

Phase 3: Lean Sigma Acceptance Phase

This phase needs another 3 months time frame. The first batch of Green Belt training should be carried out in this phase with project execution by each Green Belt. Besides this, the front line supervisors should be given training too such as TWI training, SGA methodology training and Quality 7 tools training. This training is critical not only to enhance the industry skills of front line supervisors but also encourage and engage them in shop floor improvement activities for better productivity, safety and quality.

Phase 4: Lean Sigma Realization Phase

In this phase the realization and Lean transformation takes place in which Kaizen activities are objectively planned either to reduce the variation or to eliminate the existing wastes present in any stream of the business model. The value stream mapping exercise mostly is advised in this phase in order to establish the Kaizen Blue Print for the whole business stream. The top management should set and give the operational or business target to the teams and closing review and follow up for the improvement progress. The major systems possible to implement in this phase as depart from the Value Stream Mapping Kaizen Blue Print, such as implementation of JIT and TPM. The strategic Black Belts’ training should be planned too in order to develop successors (Lean Sigma experts) for the future and strengthen the deployment process.

In summary, the advantages of the Lean Sigma management system are hard to deny however, the process bias of deployment and misunderstanding its philosophy can bring unwanted results. Especially when the company is deploying 2 different teams to work on two different subjects, this is surely will create the non-healthy competition either for resources or creditability. Another pitfall for Lean Sigma deployment is to make one system dominate another one, for example to hire a Six Sigma Master Black Belt to promote a Six Sigma project when the whole company is applying Lean infrastructure and positioning Six Sigma as the enhancement of project execution by Green or Black Belts. This strategy will make the Six Sigma team feel misused and lose their momentum. Conversely, to put the application of Lean tools under the Six Sigma DMAIC methodology will lose the advantages of creating the shop floor improvement culture, thus sustaining improvements due to Green/Black Belts’ projects becomes very hard.

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