Multi-faceted views on a Lean Six Sigma application
Journal article, 2012
Purpose – As Lean and Six Sigma have become established as influential concepts in the process improvement area, observers, researchers and managers are awaiting the next step, which many feel could take the form of a combination of the two concepts, known as Lean Six Sigma. A considerable amount of literature has been produced regarding the possible benefits of combining Lean and Six Sigma, which has led to greater support for the idea. The purpose of this paper is to explore an application of Lean Six Sigma in practical improvement work.
Design/methodology/approach – The empirical study was conducted through interviews, meetings, document analysis and observations over a period of four months.
Findings – Based on this paper, it seems unfeasible to apply one standardised approach to improvements in one company. Continuous smaller improvements and larger improvement projects demand different formulas. It seems that using both Lean and Six Sigma in parallel is appropriate but this should be done through clever cross-fertilisation.
Research limitations/implications – This paper shows one possible way of working with one improvement concept in one company. It does not claim to present the only possible way of combining Lean and Six Sigma nor does it suggest universal applicability. Further research on other possible combinations would therefore be valuable.
Practical implications – This paper provides an outline of how to structure a combination of Lean and Six Sigma. It can provide valuable insights to managers who wish to structure their improvement processes.
Originality/value – This paper expands the theoretical foundation for combining Lean and Six Sigma by studying and analysing a practical application of the concept. Apart from the paper's value for managers, it can also help researchers understand the compatibility of Lean and Six Sigma.