Multi-faceted views on a Lean Six Sigma application
Journal article, 2013
Purpose – Lean and Six Sigma 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. The purpose of this paper is to explore an application of Lean Six Sigma in practical improvement work, as a way of identifying factors of importance for improving future Lean Six Sigma applications.
Design/methodology/approach – The empirical study was conducted through interviews, meetings, document analysis and observations over a period of four months.
Findings – The findings of this study suggest it is unfeasible to apply one standardised approach to improvements in one company. Continuous smaller improvements and larger improvement projects demand different formulas. It is appropriate to use Lean and Six Sigma in parallel but this should be done through clever cross-fertilisation, such as taking variations in project complexity into consideration.
Research limitations/implications – This paper shows one way of working with an improvement initiative in one particular company. It does not propose that this is the only way to combine Lean and Six Sigma nor does it suggest universal applicability. Further research on other possible combinations would be valuable.
Practical implications – This paper provides an outline of how to structure a combination of Lean and Six Sigma. This could provide valuable insights to managers who wish to structure their improvement processes depending on the type of problem at hand.
Originality/value – This paper expands the theoretical foundation for combining Lean and Six Sigma by studying and analysing a practical application of the concept. As a result, it provides new factors of importance for successful Lean Six Sigma applications, such as having a clear structure that guides the company in terms of what components of Lean Six Sigma to apply and what competences to involve in various projects, depending on the scope and complexity.
Lean six sigma