Lean Six Sigma Advantages and disadvantages of alignment Essay

Thin and Six Sigma theories and applications are both presents widely spread around the universe. Finding their root beginnings in Toyota and Motorola, and so mostly adopted by many companies, their single success is unquestionable. However, a new tendency appeared so as to unite the two attacks into a individual 1, called Lean – Six Sigma ( LSS ) , or sometimes known as Thin Sigma.

This paper will look into the possible advantages and disadvantages of such a combination. The means to show a just probe will be supported by both a literature reappraisal on the topic and practical illustrations of Lean – Six Sigma companies. The extent of the research takes the concern universe as a whole, from fabricating to service and public sector.

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The work follows the enquiry of two research inquiries, based on personal cognition. They will so be assessed and confronted to the literature and existent instance surveies. Through this, findings are eventually presented as to reply the initial inquiry.

litterature reappraisal

Harmonizing to what Pepper and Spedding ( 2010 ) study from the literature reappraisal of the Lean – Six Sigma execution, small has yet be done in pattern to unite these two theories. Beginnings of account are a deficiency of committedness from direction. Furthermore, such an execution is thought to potentially make subcultures and lead to struggle of involvement. On his side, Bendell ( 2006 ) acknowledges that literature about Lean – Six Sigma is limited and even dissatisfactory.

The popularity of Lean – Six Sigma is besides limited in the service industry. This is largely due to the nature of procedures in service, as most of them are unobserved, intangible and potentially immeasurable ( Charkrabarty and Chuan, 2007 ) .

As stated, the first hypothesis assesses the possible advantages or disadvantages from Lean – Six Sigma debut in a company. This paper considers this attack as non a trade name new one, intending that it does n’t suggest a drastic new theory, but instead combine Lean thought and Six Sigma.

Therefore, one could say that both theories ‘ features are present in LSS. The really first logical inquiry for executives and directors is how to implement this combination, and by extension, does it show drawbacks?

Get downing from literature reappraisal about Six Sigma and Lean believing taken individually, a just appraisal would be that Six Sigma would be used as the nucleus model while Thin attack would be implemented as a tactical tool, or arm, aimed to extinguish waste and non-adding value activities in the procedure. This hypothesis is supported by the incorporate DMAIC procedure in Six Sigma attack, every bit good as its execution scheme definition ( Eckes, 2003 ) .

However, the literature reappraisal appears non to see this attack as a valid 1, as nor theoretical nor practical cogent evidence or studies exist. On the contrary, two other theories distinct themselves: a co-ordination between both attacks at the same clip, and thin thought complemented by Six Sigma. A concluding noteworthy point is the hapless handiness of unambiguous and structured execution programs, which could hold provided a “ how-to ” usher for LSS accomplishment.

The co-ordination between both attacks

Most of the work under this attack is based on the fact that one theory really fills the spread of the other ‘s defects. In other words, instead than seeing a simple add-on of tools, techniques and schemes, LSS provides synergism between Lean thought and Six Sigma, heightening both of them.

Arnheiter and Maleyeff ( 2005 ) list similarities between Lean and Six Sigma as both affecting cultural alterations, new attacks to production and service clients, every bit good as a high grade of preparation and instruction ( from store floor workers to direction ) .

But on the other manus, Lean carries a load of being seen as an attack that leads to layoffs, as employees see “ waste riddance ” traveling with plundering workers that perform non value-adding activities.

Meanwhile, Six Sigma is sometimes considered as a consultancy bundle, “ old vine in a new bottle ” in other words, that really regroups assorted incumbent tools and techniques ( T & A ; Ts ) under a new etiquette. Another facet of the opposition is the “ fright of statistics ” which is in the bosom of the Six Sigma attack that prevents executives and/or employees to to the full encompass the theory.

As a effect, one could reason that both attacks complement each other to take opposition to alter, so as to Six Sigma brings an overall staff consciousness of the attack – every bit good as a structured model ( DMAIC ) – while Thin doctrine is a well-established pattern, which laminitis ( Toyota ) still outclasses most of its rivals in the auto fabrication industry. In other words, one doctrine supports the other against reluctance to alter.

Furthermore, Lean is backed up by Six Sigma ability to utilize informations and facts in the decision-making procedure, every bit good as methodological analysiss that promote a more scientific attack to quality ( Arnheiter and Maleyeff, 2005 ) .

An illustration is the Ford transmittal issue ( Gunter, 1987 cited in Arnheiter and Maleyeff, 2005 ) . Transmissions were both manufactured in the US and in Japan but the client quality evaluation privileged the Nipponese merchandises. Probes showed that the American transmittal presented a higher degree of proficient fluctuation. Merely utilizing Lean attack ( i.e. “ go-no spell ” reviews ) clearly fails to forestall such malfunction in the quality procedure. That is why including Six Sigma measuring, which narrows down the hazard of fluctuation, will both increase quality and client satisfaction.

Six Sigma can besides trust on Thin thought as, for illustration, a company utilizing a batch-and-queue theoretical account can still execute highly good harmonizing to Six Sigma rules, but such production organisation is likely to increase lead clip and be limited in reactivity and flexibleness ( Womack, 2003 ) .

In more practical footings on how this integrating works, Figure 1 ( Carleysmith et al. 2009 ) , explains rather good the “ repartition of undertakings ” between Lean and Six Sigma.

A more critical analysis could reason that even if this representation proposes a straightforward apprehension, when applied in pattern, one could fear that complexness of the organisation and/or its procedures, every bit good as the nexus between end products and inputs, will do this theoretical account to be highly hard to implement. In add-on, possible struggles between both attacks are non mentioned. Finally, this theoretical account does n’t propose any existent integrating refering resources allotment, preparation and instruction of staff, functions and duties specific for a LSS attack.

Interestingly, another model for LSS proposes to unite both five chief stairss from each theory ( Byrne et al. 2007 ) into a individual 1. This has the advantage of supplying a more incorporate attack but it lacks a tactical proposition.

Thin thought as a starting point

Six Sigma complements Lean doctrine by supplying tools and know-how to undertake waste riddance issues ( Pepper and Spedding, 2010 ) . Furthermore, as Six Sigma focuses on the fluctuation decrease in the procedure, combined with Lean application, the limelight could so be redirected to the client through foregrounding cardinal adding-value countries.

An version from Pyzdek ( Pyzdek, 2000 ) by Pepper and Spedding ( 2010 ) proposes that implementing Thin rules is supported by Six Sigma tools. In other words, it is suggested here that Lean doctrine is backed up by Six Sigma practical facets. Table 1 below summarizes the most “ tangible ” synergisms that can be seen on the work-floor.

Traveling further on utilizing Six Sigma ‘s scientific attack to job resolution, some argue ( Arnheiter and Maleyeff, 2005 ) that Lean believing requires targeted informations and a methodical attack to blow riddance, while, at the same clip, Six Sigma should widen its attack to quality betterment by taking the whole system into consideration ( i.e. waste or muda pointed out by the Lean attack ) .

Based on literature reappraisal, Lean attack should be used foremost, so as to concentrate on value-adding activities, cut downing waste and complexness in the system. Then, Six Sigma tools and techniques will assist to better nucleus processes with a methodical and experimental grounds attack. Paraphrasing Pepper and Spedding words: Six Sigma will be used as a powerful improvements-opportunities-leverage, while Lean provides strategic orientation as to where betterments should be implemented. This is illustrated by a personal version of Pepper and Spedding ( 2010 ) proposed theoretical account ( Figure 3 ) .

Another illustration that justifies this attack is described by Sheridan ( 2000 ) on the BAE Systems Control works in Fort Wayne ( Ind. , USA ) ,

Thin – Six Sigma results

Based on a 165 organisation study, where 17 % adopted a Thin – Six Sigma direction system, Debusk and Debusk ( 2010 ) supply a strong observation that advocates positive advantages of a LSS execution.

The mean nest eggs per twelvemonth after a Thin – Six Sigma execution is $ 529,000 while 75 % of interviewees were sing the combination of the two attacks as “ really good ” or “ good ” , non merely as a quality result, but besides for fiscal additions ( costs nest eggs, increased border ) .

The study besides shows a “ positive correlativity between the positive effects and the length of usage, every bit good as between benefits realized and the largeness of the deployment ” throughout the concern. Therefore, it can be said that LSS is a long-run – sustainable public presentation betterment attack. This thought can besides be found in Sharma ‘s ( 2003 ) work on a battery fabrication company, take a firm standing on the ensuing synergism of LSS.

Three major benefits of Lean – Six Sigma are described as following ( Arnheiter and Maleyeff, 2005 )

Incorporation of an overruling doctrine that seeks to maximise the value-added content of all operations, backed up through preparation and instruction with defined leaders.

Changeless rating of systems to guarantee a planetary optimisation ( and non merely local ) combined with fluctuation decrease within the procedure.

Management decision-making that bases determination on comparative impact on the client stressed by data-driven methodological analysiss.

Criticism exists about the result and positive effects of Lean – Six Sigma execution among the literature every bit good. A company following both integrated patterns will see itself engaged in excessively many time- and resources devouring undertakings, that do n’t needfully supply sufficient consequences ( Spector and West, 2006 ) . The complexness of Six Sigma constructs is pointed out to be responsible for the mutual exclusiveness of the two attacks ( Mika, 2006 ) .

A Thin – Six Sigma could easy fall under the domination of immediate costs salvaging, instead than concentrating on client experience. Indeed, even if it is mentioned in both theories, in pattern, the necessity of rapid hard currency consequences is prevailing ( Bendell, 2006 ) due to a deficiency of a policy deployment.

Thin – Six Sigma in the pharmaceutical R & A ; D

Experts ( faculty members and practicians ) disagree on the cogency in using Thin Sigma in the R & A ; D section. Some argue that such an attack “ would kill creativeness ” and is “ inconsistent with all but incremental invention and alteration ” ( Carleysmith et al. 2009 ) .

On the other manus, writers like Calabrese or DePalma ( cited in Carleysmith et Al. 2009 ) defend Thin – Six Sigma of “ holding a positive impact ” ( on the drug development procedure ) or that it “ does n’t suppress creativeness but instead frees creativeness for more productive work ” .

A successful illustration of LSS application in the R & A ; D is the UK pharmaceutical company GSK ( GlaxoSmithKline ) where three major accomplishments significantly proved the good usage of the combination of both theories ( Carleysmith et al. 2009 )

Procedure harmonisation through reduced waste and inefficiency

Increased productiveness by greater focal point on value-adding activities

Improved experimental variableness and efficiency

Thin – Six Sigma in the populace sector

Very small work has been done in measuring the potency of LSS in the service / populace sector. Kumar and Bauder ( 2010 ) take the illustration of the Dakota County Community Development Agency that implemented an betterment undertaking utilizing most of Lean and Six Sigma tools and techniques. As a consequence, the lead clip of a renter ‘s file re-examination has been reduced by 80 % , leting a rhythm clip falling from 90 yearss to merely more than 30.

Another study in the NHS ( Proudlove, Moxham & A ; Boaden, 2008 ) describes an LSS execution but argues that most of procedures should instead be redesigned before presenting such techniques.

There is hence no theoretical grounds that Lean and Six Sigma can non be used in the Public sector. But public organisations should be cognizant of their alone features, such as regulations and ordinances, the organisational construction, the election rhythm and more significantly, their focal point.


It has appeared rather obviously that Lean – Six Sigma is a powerful arm for companies, based on the theoretical point of position, every bit good as taking practical successful illustrations. Even if, taken individually, both of them suffer from some defects in their application, one has proved that when combined, one scheme would repress the other ‘s failings. Therefore, companies would be able to move at the same clip on their procedure flow, cleared out from uneffective and non-relevant activities while those staying would see their fluctuation ( and in all right their quality end product ) improved. Not to advert that LSS integrate a top-down attack refering preparation and way while utilizing bottom-up experience and support.

This paper therefore is strongly in favor of an LSS application following Pepper and Spedding ( 2010 ) proposed theoretical account: Thin narrows down the focal point on critical value-adding activities that Six Sigma so improves utilizing statistical control. In this instance, KPIs ( Key Performance Objectives ) are limited but relevant, and easier to place, record and control.

However, the ideal theoretical state of affairs is capable to some militias. The really first one is the high complexness of incorporating both doctrines at one time on bing procedures and civilization. Therefore, conveying in excessively much alteration and freshness incurs the hazard of greatly unhinging the production procedure, adding to that a diminution in staff motive. Hence, long-run direction committedness is imperative. Executives and directors have to stand back and seek to accommodate best patterns that suit their organisations. The danger could be that “ a La menu ” Lean – Six Sigma merely aiming convenient jobs, intending that root causes of alteration would be ignored, taking to an unsatisfactory experience.

The 2nd critic of Lean – Six Sigma is that it could ensue in a direction concern to organize excessively many undertakings at the same clip, worsen by a different focal point rubbing off both distinguished theories. Most of what has been investigated suggests that one theory is applied foremost and so the 2nd 1 is introduced.

Finally, one would be more or less legitimated to state that Thin – Six Sigma does n’t supply any complementary tools or techniques, neither another attack to public presentation betterment undertakings, as merely uniting two theories, without a clear model of application.


It is rather apparent that Thin – Six Sigma would theoretically work, enabling companies to undertake root causes of quality issues and client dissatisfaction, every bit good as high costs and inefficiency. However, this scheme is largely based on the combination of two other attacks. As organisations are already fighting to win in implementing Lean or Six Sigma as the theory explains it, Lean – Six Sigma seems all the more a biggest challenge. This paper therefore advocators for a demand of elucidation on a “ how-to ” usher for LSS execution, incorporating both attacks and non merely adding them together.


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