Lean Six Sigma Combines The Best Of Two Proven Tools

Lean Six Sigma combines the best of Six Sigma and Lean

Lean Six Sigma
Lean Six Sigma. Getty Images

Traditional Six Sigma projects give customers requirements significant weight in the waste reduction process, which helps drive customer satisfaction. 

Lean Design for Six Sigma (LDFSS) covers the full life-cycle of any product or service and starts when your company formally agrees on a requirement or specification for a product or service and terminates upon full commercial delivery. The LDFSS has seven main areas that should be followed.

  1. Identify Customer Requirements – your team identifies “critical to quality” (CTQ) requirements for your customer, business and technical specifications.
  2. Estimate Baseline – your team works on benchmarking, patent searches, product scorecards, value stream map, and process maps.
  3. Determine Functional Requirements – your team works on a Design Failure Modes Effect Analysis (FMEA) to analyze a product design before release to manufacturing.
  4. Generate, Evaluate, Select Design & Process Concept – your team adopts a number of methods in when working in this area for waste elimination through the simultaneous design of production, preparation and process.
  5. Optimize Design and Process Concepts – your team uses a number of proof of concept techniques, such as front end analysis (FEA), design of experiments (DOE), simulation or analytical models.
  6. Verify, Design and Process – the method allows your team to look at a Process Failure Modes Effect Analysis (PFMEA), develop a production part approval process (PPAP), and produce a Design Verification Plan and Report (DVP&R).
  1. Maintain The Gains – after a successful launch, your team implements a control plan to review the product or service to ensure the improvements in quality or customer service are maintained over time and built upon.

Unlike traditional Six Sigma, Lean Six Sigma uses some of the methodology from lean manufacturing along with the Six Sigma approach.

 Some companies view Lean Six Sigma as the evolution of the Six Sigma methodology rather than a modification.

Do you need to implement Six Sigma or Lean processes in order to optimize your supply chain?  No, there are plenty of optimized supply chains that do not use them.  But Lean tools and Six Sigma tools - or, even better, a combination of those tools in the Lean Six Sigma methodology - gives your supply chain a clearer path with repeatable processes to get to an optimized state.

The seven main areas of Lean Six Sigma provide a road map that is easy to follow.  However, if you can remember back to the days of actual road maps, you might recall that those road maps did very little good if you shoved them into your glove compartment and never looked at them.  

You might have studied the road map when you started the journey.  And in the case of your Lean Six Sigma project, you might have looked at the process map and thought, "Yes, I need to identify my customer requirements and then I have a bunch of other steps to take and then I turn left at 'verify, design and process' and then I maintain the gains."  

But if you're not benchmarking your progress - or pulling over every so often and checking your progress on the map - you may not get to where you want to go.


Remember to provide executive buy in to your project and have project leadership who knows how to keep your team on track.  It's critical that you estimate your baseline before you determine functional requirements.  Just like you need to use the on ramp before you can get on a highway, each step has to be taken in order.

If you, your executive leadership are committed to Lean Six Sigma - these process steps can get you there.

Remember, an optimized supply chain is a supply chain that allows you to deliver your customers what they want, when they want it - and it gets all of that accomplished by spending as little money as possible.  With Lean Six Sigma, you will be eliminating waste, optimizing processes and driving customer satisfaction.

Use Six Sigma to get Lean - or use Lean to Six Sigma your supply chain.