What is Lean Six Sigma

A lean six sigma is a systemic approach to identify and eliminate waste through continuous improvement. Lean Six Sigma not only reduces process defects and waste but also provides a framework for overall organizational culture change.

What is waste?

Waste is a non-added value which adds to the cost and their by reduces the profits. It delays the work and the process. Waste is inherent in business activity for all the organizations which is required to compensate for theses internal weaknesses.

There are eight types of waste (MUDA) which can be easily remembered by the Acronym TIMWOODs or DOWNTIME


T = Transportation
I = Inventory
M = Motion
W = Waiting
O = Over Processing
O = Overproduction
D = Defects
S = Skills


D = Defects
O = Overproduction
W = Waiting
N = Non-utilized Talent
T = Transportation
I = Inventory
M = Motion
E = Extra processing

Thus the lean is a business strategy that focuses on improving all the processes at all levels across all functions with an end objective of creating value for the customer. So, Lean examines the process at all levels and identifies and eliminates the waste mentioned above to reduce the cost of handling such waste to improve the profits and the efficiency.

Principles’ of LEAN

Following are the principles of Lean

Identify the Value: Define Value from the customer’s point of view and Express value in terms of a specific product

Map the value stream: Map all the straps value-added and non-value added that bring a product or services to the customer.

Establish flow:  Establish the continues movement of products, services and information from end to end through the process

Improve pull : Nothing is done by the upstream process until the downstream customer signals the need.

Work to perfection : We need to work for perfection to eliminate all sorts of waste so that all the activities creates value for the customer.

How to identify Value?

We need to specify value by creating a distinction between a value-added and non- added value.

Value added activities contains some of the following elements

  • Important to the customer
  • Customer is willing to pay for
  • Change the input form, feature or function to the product or services
  • Correct the first Time

Non added activities are the activities containing some of the following points

  • Any activity that does not add form, feature or function to the product or services.
  • Any non-added value activities that include transportation, multiple signatures, queues, network, etc. which should be eliminated, simplified, reduced or integrated.

Map the Value Stream: Once the value (end goal) has been determined, the next step is mapping the “value stream,” or all the steps and processes involved in taking a specific product from raw materials and delivering the final product to the customer.

 Value-stream mapping is a simple but eye-opening experience that identifies all the actions that take a product or service through any process that process can be in design, production, procurement, HR, administration, delivery, or customer service. 

The idea is to draw, on one page, a “map” of the flow of material/product through the process. The goal is to identify every step that does not create value and then find ways to eliminate those wasteful steps. Value-stream mapping is sometimes referred to as process re-engineering. Ultimately this exercise also results in a better understanding of the entire business operation.

Whenever there is a product or customer, there is a value system. The Challenge lies in seeing it.

Establishing the flow:  Establishing flow refers to the ‘continuous flow”. These are severe basic terms used to describe one-piece flow. The most common are as follows

  • One piece flow
  • Single piece flow
  • Continuous flow
  • Make one- Move One.

 “Make the value-creating steps occur in tight sequence so that the product or service will flow smoothly toward the customer,”

 “Make the value-creating steps occur in tight sequence so that the product or service will flow smoothly toward the customer,”

Implement Pull: This means the customer can “pull” the product from you as needed (often in weeks, instead of months). As a result, products don’t need to be built in advance or materials stockpiled, creating expensive inventory that needs to be managed, saving money for both the manufacturer/provider and the customer.

The flow of resources in the production process by replacing only what has been consumed

Well, it must be noted that no upstream should produce anything until downstream asks for it. Which helps in the following

It lets the customer pull the product from you as needed rather than pushing the product.

It avoids inventory build-up and overproduction

Perfection: Perfection is a habit which comes from the diligent efforts from everyone and eventually becomes necessary for everyone to contribute to making the entire exercise successful. It has been a continuous effort and actions which will get rid of waste from the process and allow to flow information without any resistance. 

It improves the product and services. It believes in the premise that there is a waste that can be removed. It provides a staunch control mechanism in the form of a check sheet, mistake proofing at each improvement level that can make the process self-sustainable.


Enjoyed this blog? Please spread the word and share :)