5 trends that are happening right now in Lean Six Sigma

We already know what Lean Six Sigma is but David Kiger would like to remind you. Lean Six Sigma a way of approaching activities where the idea is to improve efficiency, make a better contact with customers and increase profits.  Lean Six Sigma comes from the minds of the very well-known Toyota’s lean manufacturing philosophy and the qualitative and quantitative approaches that they used in Motorola’s Six Sigma processes.  Lean Six Sigma acknowledges that all the people involved in an operation in a company needs to have all the necessary information so they can take decisions based on that data.  

Yes, the definition is well known and everybody is familiar with it. But, isn’t an old approach now? Does it still work? Well, some of those answers are for every company to answer. What can be answered here is some of the directions that Lean Six Sigma is taking in the corporate world nowadays. Let’s see which those trends are.

Lean Six sigma will be used within every industry.

The Lean Six Sigma approach comes from manufacturing processes, specially in technology and cars. But nowadays Lean Six Sigma is being applied to every industry that you can imagine. Almost in every country, when there are lean-related conferences you can always find people speaking, watching or learning from all the industries possible. You can see people from the private and public sector, healthcare sector, bankers, retail executives, IT geeks and government officials.

It was considered that Lean Six Sigma was only done or applied within manufacturing companies. But today, everybody is getting into the trend and applying the Lean Six Sigma ideas to everything they do, in their lives and in the company.

Restructuring and transformation using Lean Six Sigma.

Within Lean Six Sigma there are levels. These levels or belts are used by the masters or leaders. Nowadays, companies are engaging in what they call “transformation” and they need leaders to carry out such change. Technology, business models and hard global competition are making organizations look at themselves and start the transformation from within. In order to make this transformation work, companies need leaders that take the responsibility of being Transformational Leaders and making the change happen. These leaders have the responsibility of combining  lean strategies, Six Sigma approaches, strategies, program management and change management and make it part of a transversal change throughout all the areas in the organization.

Image courtesy of U.S. Army Materiel Command at Flickr.com

So, companies right now are using the Lean Six Sigma strategies to generate change in the company and in their teams. It is important to note that big companies are now using the Lean Six Sigma approach to start large-scale transformational adventures and are hiring executives with experience in Lean and Six Sigma to lead those transformations.

Integration of Lean and Six Sigma will be even bigger and with more applications.

Lean and Six Sigma as said before were born in two different companies with two different needs. These two approaches were applied separately and executed by different areas in the organizations. Of course, recently these two views are being combined and are being applied by only one team. In the past, even though companies knew that these two approaches existed and were related, they had two teams to handle them, one for Lean and another one for Six Sigma.

GE is one of the companies that used Six Sigma in their change processes and is now applying Lean strategies and combining them with their Six Sigma ideas.

“Value Stream Thinking” approach will be even more common to manage processes end to end

There are two approaches in Lean Six Sigma that will be even more used: Value Stream and Value Stream Mapping (VSM). But don’t get to happy. Not so many companies are doing it and it takes a lot of work to apply it. Many companies think that they are doing VSM when what they are really doing is a list of headings of their financial and commercial activities with detailed points. Since there was no measuring it cannot be considered as a VSM approach.

Nowadays, companies are including measurement strategies to all their areas and activities, in order to have them under the Lean six Sigma umbrella.  It is a new way of doing things and there are more and more companies getting into the train of the measurement

Lean is now a management system.

Lean was born as a set of improvement tools but is now being seen as a management system. Lean Leadership is now a skill and an approach that can drive companies to success. It is not only applicable when things are not going well, but also when the company wants to reach new levels. Companies understand that if Lean Six Sigma is applied as a management strategy and not only as a set of tools, the results are even better.  

Be sure to also check this post on Kaizen and how it is a tool for innovation


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