Every project manager’s goal is to streamline workflow and eliminate any unnecessary tasks to execute a project as smoothly and efficiently as possible. There are two main schools of thought that all successful project managers swear by - Lean and Six Sigma method. The combination of these two methodologies is called the Lean Six Sigma method. This article will cover 5 Lean Six Sigma principles that every management professional should know.

What Is Lean Six Sigma?

Lean Six Sigma combines the best features of both Lean and Six Sigma. It reduces process waste and also provides a framework for overall organizational culture change. The mindset of managers and employees can be changed to focus on growth and continuous improvement by using the Lean Six Sigma method. This change in culture and mindset provides for greater organizational efficiency and increased profitability.

Lean vs Six Sigma

Lean methodology is focused on reducing as much waste as possible. Lean originated in Japan under the leadership of Taichii Onho, and the term was officially coined by John Krafcik in the 1980s.

Six Sigma is data-driven and consists of tools and techniques for process improvement. Six Sigma was designed by Motorola engineer, Bill Smith, in the 1980s as a standard to measure productivity.


Key Principles or Goals of Lean Six Sigma

The Lean Six Sigma principles are considered one of the most effective ways to execute a project. There are five main principles or goals of Lean Six Sigma:

  • Focus on the customer
  • Map out the value stream
  • Remove waste to create flow
  • Communication with your team
  • Create a culture of change and flexibility

Focus on the Customer

No matter what business you are in, your customers always need to come first. Every product or service should be centered around customers and their needs. Before you make any changes, no matter how minor it may be, you should always meet the level of quality and requirement promised to the customers. After all, without customers, no organization would survive.

Map Out the Value Stream

Before you decide to remove or improve a process, it is necessary to know all the steps involved in it. A detailed workflow is required to determine which steps add value and which do not. One way to do this is to map out a value stream, which is a flowchart that illustrates and analyzes the detailed steps in a process.


Fig: Value map stream example (Source - LucidChart)

Here is an example of a value stream for a community hospital. The steps taken once a patient enters the hospital are all listed clearly in the value stream. This makes the process easier for everyone involved and provides a better patient experience as well.

Once you have mapped out all the processes involved in the value stream, you can identify the problems visually, investigate the root cause, and solve them. 

Remove Waste to Create Flow

There are eight kinds of waste according to the principles of lean methodology - defects, overpopulation, non-utilized talent, transportation, waiting, inventory, motion and extra processing. 

The Lean Six Sigma principles encourage a culture of responsibility and ownership for these wastes. While it may be tempting to remove all the wastes immediately, there should be an ongoing process of review while removing waste. 

Six Sigma is focused on reducing variation and increasing standardization. These principles are borrowed from Six Sigma to help you reduce waste:

  • Document your processes
  • Establish and share best practices
  • Create checklists for processes so everyone knows and follows the same steps
  • Make sure everyone gets the same training
  • Use forms and templates
  • Automate anything that’s repetitive, boring, and therefore error-prone

Communicate With Your Team

While implementing any change, it is very important to communicate the new standards and practices effectively. There should also be training provided for every employee and encourage feedback from them.

Here are some ways you can communicate effectively with your team:

  • Create a knowledge base in place or update the existing knowledge management system
  • Create process maps to show employees the changes made to their workflow
  • Make the process easily accessible to employees and stakeholders according to their specific role
  • Update the customer support knowledge base

Create a Culture of Change and Flexibility

Lean Six Sigma principles involve a lot of change. As such, you need to encourage employees to accept change as well. The whole idea of Lean Six Sigma principles is to welcome a cultural change. You should also be able to clear employees’ fears and assumptions by explaining to them the benefits of change through meaningful data.

Interested in learning Lean Six Sigma and its importance? Check out the Lean Six Sigma Green Belt Certification course preview.

Why Lean Six Sigma Principles Are Gaining Popularity?

Understanding business and customer data are crucial for the success of any organization. Not only does it provide a competitive advantage, but allows greater opportunities for innovation and expansion within an organization. This is why Lean Six Sigma professionals are in rising demand to help businesses properly analyze their data.

There are four Lean Six Sigma belts - Yellow Belt, Green Belt, Black Belt and Master Black Belt. You can start learning from any of these belts. However, in order to earn the Master Black Belt, you need to have a valid Black Belt certification from a recognized organization. 

Most companies prefer candidates who possess at least the Lean Six Sigma Green Belt. If you are looking for a higher designation in the corporate hierarchy, companies would prefer a Lean Six Sigma Black Belt or Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt. According to Glassdoor, the average salary of a lean six sigma professional in the United States is  $94,778 to $111,828 per year.

Here’s What You Should Do Next

Lean Six Sigma is one of the most lucrative career options available in the market today. If you are interested in Lean Six Sigma principles and more, you can start off with Simplilearn’s Lean Six Sigma Green Belt Certification Training program. This course will provide you with the basics of Lean Six Sigma and train you with all the skills required for an organization’s growth. You will be able to learn how to measure current company performance, identify process issues, and come up with solutions for them.

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