- Six Sigma is a problem solving tool. Problem Solving is a subset of Lean (which is comprised of many tools), and it makes no sense to build a culture around a tool like Six Sigma. Lean culture should be developed around Lean principles, and never around a tool.
- Many companies try to solve all problems using the Six Sigma process. This is inappropriate. When the only tool you have in your tool box is a hammer, all of your problems look like nails.
- We believe that a large majority of all problems can be solved using basic problem solving methodologies. There is no need for an elaborate approach like Six Sigma for most of an organization’s problems.
- The Six Sigma methodology is usually a long, drawn-out process, where projects can take 6 to 9 months. Lean is much quicker in terms of results. Lean zealots have the view of not letting “perfect” get in the way of “better”.
- Lean rests on the input of the all associates within an organization. Due to the complexity of Six Sigma, not all associates can meaningfully participate in the process. I have seen Six Sigma “cliques” form in an organization, which is rather elitist and dysfunctional.
- By starting with Six Sigma first, there is a danger of improving a process that should not exist in the first place. Lean is all about process improvement, creating flow, etc. and many times help identify processes that are non-value adding and should be eliminated. Why improve a process that should not exist in the first place?
So, where does this lead us? I firmly believe that Six Sigma works nicely within a Lean transformation, but the key is to use the right tool at the right time. I would be interested on your opinion, your successes and your challenges.