How to become a SUPERHERO. Six Sigma vs Lean explained

What is the difference? And why are Lean and Six Sigma used together? Great question. I found a comparison in todays so popular superhero movies.

This article covers:

  • Lean vs Six Sigma like superheroes?
  • Lean methodology definition – hero creation
  • Six Sigma methodology definition – hero creation
  • Six Sigma as a quality number
  • What is Lean in Six Sigma?

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Lean VS Six Sigma like superheroes?

Imagine two superheroes working together. But two superheroes from different epochs. Like Superman and Captain America. First known by older audience from their childhood. Second created just recently. Both powerful, but with different powers. Both very good usable to resolve difficult word challenging situations. And both with successful and happy-end stories.

The best continuous improvement tools? read here

Lean Six Sigma Superheroes

But could you imagine that they will cooperate? That they will work together? And how much easily and faster would they accomplish complicated task they are facing separately?

Well, Lean and Six Sigma have very similar stories.

Would you like to be a superhero, too?

You do not need to be super-knowledgeable about all power tools Lean and 6 Sigma are using. You do not need to work in corporate organization to use it, too

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Lean methodology definition – hero creation

Lean was created by scientist Taiichi Ohno in 1940´s. But it was called Toyota Production System (TPS) that time. It was developed to shorten:

  • too long processes that consumes time,
  • to simplify complicated processes, that slows down delivering products to customer, and
  • to help re-organize mess and muddle that are bothering and annoying people in any work environment.

With world becoming more globalized and more complicated, challenges raised. TPS was used more often in more and more companies.

How to identify 8 waste of lean? – read more

You know. Competition did not like using “Toyota“ name within their walls. So, TPS was re-named to Lean in 90´s years previous century.

Personally, I think, it was just a jealousy. 😊

Lean used to be Toyota Production System

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Six Sigma methodology definition – hero creation

Six Sigma was developed by scientist Bill Smith in Motorola in 1980´s. It´s utilization was intended to:

  • reveal errors, that are consuming efforts already finished and are needed to be performed again,
  • to uncover potential defects that might be affecting final customer and could make him unhappy, and furthermore
  • to narrow deviations in whatever product creation activities. 

There is number 6 used in front of Sigma. Are you asking what that number mean?

If you have a garage for a car, sigma number will tell you how often you will possibly scratch your car during parking.

  • If the car is too large, more scratches, that means low sigma number like number 3,
  • smaller car less scratches, that means higher sigma number. Can be number 8.
Six Sigma was created by Bill Smith in Motorola
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Six Sigma as a quality number

Number 6 is very good compromise of the size of the car and its comfort for passengers and easier parking for driver.

Take this example as analogy for people working in processes, that is set up and controlled to fail very seldom.

Table below shows sigma level, and possible defects per million operations. It can be both, production and office processes.

Sigma levelDefects per million opportunitiesPercent defectivePercentage yield

To visualize how good process set up we have, and how good we are in repeating the same process set up, sigma number is great to monitor. We can take it like number out of one million customers, that we failed to make happy. Or opposite way. 999996,6 customers out of one million we made happy. And they will come back to buy more.

Check out explaining video

What is Lean in Six Sigma?

Both approaches are little different but robust. So, somebody in late 1990´s thought to use both at once. And here we are: Lean Six sigma was invented. And we can use advantages from both at once. Isn´t that great?

There are many tools, that both methods offer. You do not need to know all of them. I do not know them either. Do not be scared, or afraid of heavy statistics, too. I do use it very, very seldom. By knowing 20% of the tools, you will be able to resolve 80% of problems.

DMAIC tool list (tollgate) that works for me

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So, hurry up. Change your life. Change your business. Learn few tools with me and I guarantee you easier work, faster process.

It is all about of doing smart decisions based on data and understanding problem root cause. Imagine easier life you can live. Imagine happier customer that has received his order incredibly fast and in expected promised condition.

Do not forget to visit and subscribe my YouTube channel. I am uploading Six Sigma, Lean and Project oriented videos regurarly. So, stay tuned.

Yours sincerely Erik

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