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Lean Vs. Six Sigma

When looking at which programs to adopt, some management teams may look at lean vs. Six Sigma and mot realize that the two can be compatible.

Lean processes focus on creating an easier workflow and eliminating any wasteful procedures that might be taking away from the company's ability to be fit and adaptable.In essence, it trims the fat for the health of the business.Six Sigma is a way of looking at business that focuses on the customer.By creating customer satisfaction through the elimination of defects, Six Sigma creates a more robust bottom line over the course of time.Trimming the fat and creating customer loyalty is not necessarily an either/or proposition.

The problem arises when trimming the fat becomes eliminating job positions and calling it "lean."When companies ask their employees to do more with less and with no more compensation for what the employee is taking on, the companies create a toxic atmosphere that is sure to see production values tank and mistakes creep into the process.These mistakes may then leak into the product, and that will create customer dissatisfaction - which is what Six Sigma tries to eliminate.

The primary reason for adopting one over the other would be the timeline on which the company focuses for profits to rise.A company that wants to see an almost immediate return should adopt the lean system first.Because lean processes are focused on cutting waste wherever it lurks, an immediate change in the bottom line should be visible barring any other changes that may occur within the market place itself.

For companies with a longer view, focusing on Six Sigma adoption may prove to be the wiser move.Six Sigma wants to create customer loyalty through the elimination of bad products.Think of the success of Toyota when you think of Six Sigma.It is Toyota's reputation as the most reliable vehicle on the road that made it the number one automobile manufacturer in the world.The company will earn a good reputation which will drive repeat business and referrals to it.This is the best kind of advertising because it doesn't cost anything but the implementation of a program that creates only 3.4 defects per million products made.

Before a company decides to choose between the two systems, it should really look to see if it can adopt both at the same time.This will help it secure both the quick benefits of the lean system and the long term benefits of the Six Sigma system.This combined form is often called Lean Six Sigma.

Adoption of both cultures at the same time is kind of like ripping the bandage off.In one fell swoop, the corporate culture gets changed to what management wants it to be in the future.Change is always difficult for any person, and in an established corporate culture, it will be easy to find those who are not ready or willing to change.

Implementing an educational program that is geared to getting buy-in from the employees will take time and intelligence.Doing it twice will take twice as much time.By implementing both moves at the same time, the company can get the employees used to the idea of change and help mitigate the stress that changing twice would cause.There will be less expense involved and less turmoil companywide.
If for some reason the company doesn't feel like it can take on that much change at once, then it needs to look to its core values and implement the system that seems most beneficial for everyone who is involved.

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