How Does Lean Sigma Work

If your only experience with Lean and Six Sigma is in theory, you may have heard that it is intimidating, confusing and very difficult to implement.

The reality is that the Lean Sigma process is based on common sense principles that are clear and can be implemented in any size business, in any type of industry.

There are 5 basic phases in the Lean Sigma process, known as DMAIC:lean sigma benefits

  • Define
  • Measure
  • Analyze
  • Improve
  • Control

Lean Sigma is much more than a one time project.  Your staff will have the ability to implement the DMAIC management process on the dozens of other processes within your organization.


Define the Problem and Identify What the Customer Requires

The focus of this first phase is on creating a high level overview of the process and beginning to understand the detailed needs of the customer.  This critical phase of the project will be carried out by the project leaders.

The concept of driving the project based on the needs of the customer is what separates Lean Sigma from the other process improvement strategies.

Other strategies focus on streamlining your organization, usually at the expense of the customer.  Lean Sigma is about streamlining your business by placing more focus on your customers.

Some of the results of this phase are:how lean sigma works

  • Creating a Problem Statement
  • Defining your Goal Statement
  • Creating maps of the process
  • Defining customer requirements


Measure and Collect Data

The second phase of the Lean Sigma improvement process is focused on defining how the process currently performs.

Collecting key data is another key component that separates the Lean Sigma methodology from other popular process improvement techniques.

Data collections results in decisions that are based on facts, not the (sometimes) biased opinion of an employee or the way someone remembers it.

Collecting the right data is essential to the positive outcome of any project.

The data is collected with the goal to:

  • Develop a baseline to measure future improvements
  • Identify the root causes of problems within the process


Analyze and Identify the Real Cause of Each Problem

During the third phase of the implementation of the Lean Sigma strategy, the team analyzes the data to see what it reveals.

Process maps and data are analyzed to:

  • Brainstorm and identify the real cause of the problem
  • Determine if additional data collection is needed
  • Identify the areas of waste and defects that must be corrected


Improve By Implementing a Fix to Solve the Problem

The focus of this phase is to determine how the problem will be fixed and to implement the best solution.

This entails brainstorming multiple possible solutions to review.  The best option is selected and an implementation plan is developed.  Then the plan is carried out.

The final portion of the Improve phase is to measure the results against the initial data that was collected to determine the amount of improvement that has been realized.


Implement Controls so the Improved Results Can Be Sustained

The final phase of implementing the Lean Sigma process and culture is to ensure there are controls in place to sustain the improvements.

This involves ensuring the process is being effectively managed and monitored going forward and it involves passing on many of these critical items to the employees.

Throughout the initial Lean Sigma project an infrastructure has been built that involves data collection, analysis and control. This infrastructure can be reallocated to many other processes within your organization.  Your company will continue down the road and will follow lean, streamlined, cost effective procedures in all facets of your organization.

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