Category Archives: Six Sigma Types


It is a Japanese term that suggests continuous improvement where “Kai” means continuous and “Zen” means improvement. Others translation predicts “Kai” means change and “Zen” means for the better.  Basically, it is a Japanese philosophy that aims at continuous improvement throughout all aspects of life.

Kaizen activities lead to continuous improvement across all business functions including manufacturing to management. It eliminates waste by improving standardized activities and processes. As per the modern usage, a “kaizen blitz” or “kaizen event” is a set of activities that is designed to address a particular issue over the course of a week. It is limited in scope.

Kaizen is a process that humanizes the workplace, eliminates overly hard work and focuses on applying the scientific method while performing experiments and aims at identifying and eliminating waste in business processes. The philosophy suggests that daily activities of business procedures should effectively implement kaizen principles.

The cycle of kaizen activity comprises of following activities:

(1)   Standardizing an operation

(2)   Measuring the standardized operation (find cycle time and amount of in-process inventory)

(3)   Gauging measurements against requirements

(4)    Displaying creativity to meet requirements and increase productivity

(5)    Standardizing the new, improved operations

(6)   Continuing the cycle ad infinitum.

Integration of Six Sigma, Lean and Kaizen in a business project leads to breakthrough improvement.  Leadership, creativity, and innovation are the chief drivers of growth in any organization.  Every strategic improvement initiative requires the following elements

Leadership, Creativity, and Innovation:  This element drives the cultural change, mentors the organization and leads to the alignment of the strategy and deployment. By integrating the Six Sigma, Lean, and Kaizen, leadership team can provide clearer focus on improving profitability and competitiveness.

Teaming and Employee Involvement:  This element suggests that people need to be equipped with the right tools and they should be empowered to take responsible actions to drive the growth.

Closed-Loop Performance:  This element includes real time performance measurement that allows the people to understand the cause-and-effect relationship between their actions and the improvement goals.

Total Quality Management (TQM)

Total Quality Management is a concept that focuses on continuous improvement of work in all areas by high level strategic planning, decision making and executing the details. It results in improvement in people, processes and technology. It is evolved in the 1950’s and popularized in 1980’s.

TQM work culture demands quality in all aspects of organization and stresses on eradication wastes from the system and correct execution of the processes consistently. It combines the quality and management tools to bring about reduction in losses and increment in business. The culture of TQM emphasizes on involvement of both the management and employees to bring about improvement in production of goods and customer satisfaction.

Some of the companies who have implemented TQM include Ford Motor Company, Phillips Semiconductor, SGL Carbon, Motorola and Toyota Motor Company.

TQM stresses on incorporating the knowledge and experiences of workers to bring about continuous improvement. “Do the right things, right the first time, every time” is the objective of TQM. It is recognized as a generic management tool that is applicable in service and public sector organizations in addition to manufacturing sector.

TQM involves a wide range of activities like , commitment by senior management and all employees, Meeting customer requirements, Reducing development cycle times, Just In Time/Demand Flow Manufacturing, Reducing product and service costs etc.

TQM needs to be applied in all the activities of the organization including Manufacturing, Marketing, Engineering, R&D, Sales, Purchasing, HR, etc

The key principles of TQM comprises of following

Management Commitment: It includes Plan (drive, direct) , Do (deploy, support, participate) , Check (review) , Act (recognize, communicate, revise)

Employee Empowerment: It includes, Training, Suggestion scheme, Measurement and recognition, Excellence teams

Fact Based Decision Making: It includes SPC (statistical process control) , DOE, FMEA , The 7 statistical tools , TOPS (FORD 8D – Team Oriented Problem Solving)

Continuous Improvement: It includes Systematic measurement and focuses on CONQ, Excellence teams, Cross-functional process management, Attain, maintain, improve standards,

Customer Focus: It includes Supplier partnership, Service relationship with internal customers, Never compromise quality, Customer driven standards

Lean Six Sigma Manufacturing

In order to grow and exceed bottom lines expectations consistently, companies are required to learn the basics of Lean Six Sigma thoroughly. In a global competitive manufacturing environment, companies are spending thousands of dollars in pursuing the Materials Required Planning and Enterprise Resource Planning, however they still face decline in growth and profits.

Companies need to have complete understanding of Six Sigma fundamentals and commitment for consistent execution of Lean principles. This focuses on analyzing and eliminating the root causes of ineffective systems and processes within the manufacturing sector.

Basics of Lean Six Sigma as applicable to the manufacturing sector are as follows :

(1) Information Integrity:  Acceptable systems results are difficult to achieve when there is non compliance of information integrity where in systems are driven by inaccurate data and untimely, uncontrolled documentation.

(2) Performance Management : The system for measuring the performance should be motivational. Individual goal setting provided little contribution to overall company growth and profit. Therefore efficient and balanced system of performance management is the key of business winners.

(3) Sequential production : It assists in achieving the on-time shipments with healthy profit margins. It focuses on continuous production lines that are supported by real-time and visual material supply chains.   

(4)Point-of-Use Logistics: The strategic objective of all manufacturers is the elimination of the stock room. Companies can achieve significant reduction in costs by moving production parts and components from the stockroom to their production point of use.

(5)Cycle Time Management: Focus on the continuous reduction of all cycle times, root cause,  proactive problem solving is required for achieving success.

(6) Production Linearity: The strategies for achieving the speed, quality and costs is to form teams of employees to pursue and achieve linear production. This is required as companies struggle to remain competitive in today’s manufacturing sector.

(7) Resource Planning : The timely right sizing of operations and upsizing the direct labor force in a timely manner demand tough decisions that require accurate, well-timed and reliable resource information.

(8) Customer satisfaction : Proactive projects aiming at achieving the customer satisfaction needs to be planned and implemented.

Types of Six Sigma Training

The successful implementation of  the Six Sigma methodology requires that  the senior leaderships plays a vital role in the aligning the entire organization and inculcate the Six Sigma culture. Committed leadership involving  senior executives, master black belts, black belts, and green belts works closely and challenges effectively.

Different types of training are available based on the ranks of the professional in the organization. Companies need to recognize who in the organization requires training and what type of training should be imparted to them.

Senior Management  :  This level  includes  the top managers of the organization like CEO,CIO etc who are responsible for implementing Six Sigma in their operations. They set and drives the business goals . This training incorporates the program overview, business and financial benefits of implementation, business and real-world examples of successful deployments and specific applications to business and industry. It may include the black belt training as well.

Functional or Process Managers : This level includes functional managers from areas like finance, HR, Training etc and process managers from areas like production, call center etc  who reports to Senior management and follows their strategy into actions.  They also known as sponsors and champions. Their training is more detailed than that imparted to senior management. Training may include Black Belt Training apart from topics like Six Sigma concepts, methodologies, tools and requirements and helps to ensure successful implementation within the organization.

Quality Leaders : This level includes Quality Managers and Master Black Belts who help functional and process Managers to set and lead the Six Sigma Vision within their specific areas.  Training includes the detailed information about the concept, methodology and tools, as well as detailed statistics training and computer analysis tool use and may extend from three to four weeks.

Project Leaders :   This level  includes the Project Leaders who are also called Black Belts. They are responsible for implementing theSix Sigma methodology and tools within the business. Training includes detailed information about the concept, methodology and tools of Six Sigma.

Employees: This level includes the lower rank employees also called as Green Belts . Training is specifically developed for  part-time project leaders and includes the  Black Belt training program which is  shorter in duration as less detail on complex tools and statistics is provided. In complex cases employees are recommended to ask Black belts for assistance.

Lean Dynamics

Lean dynamics is a practice of business management that focuses on eliminating wasteful expenditure of resources by emphasizing on the dynamic business conditions that leads to the accumulation of wastes in the first place.

Lean dynamics was evolved in the aerospace industry where Lean manufacturing was being practiced. It was targeted at reducing the costs to bring about new products and making them affordable. The study in aerospace manufacturing reveals that application of Lean principles for mitigating the amplification of variation is critical for overcoming the disruption leading to accumulation of waste. Later on these findings were accepted by other industries as well.

It creates tangible and steady and strong values for companies and their customers in changing and uncertain conditions. It stresses on creating greater value and efficiencies by optimizing the flow by competing in the business condition that requires innovation. It has been emerged as recognized approach for business improvement.

The difference in approach of Lean Manufacturing and Lean dynamics lies in the fact that Lean manufacturing activities identifies and eliminates “waste”, however lean dynamics focuses on the dynamic conditions which results in wastes  accumulation in the first place. It identifies and addresses sources of lag or disconnects in flowing value through various activities like information, innovation, operations, decision making e.t.c.  which amplify disruption on changing of business conditions.

It leads to inherent dynamic stability in the business structure which allows companies to accommodate in uncertain and changing business conditions. It helps the companies to provide the greater customer value in terms of quality, customer satisfaction and innovation. Also companies will show greater resilience in the market and perform well with positive results in growth, profitability and market capitalization.

By applying “lean dynamics” principles, companies are consistently thriving in challenging business environment and this approach of Variation Management has become prominent for the transformation and improvement of various organizations.

Lean Manufacturing

Lean manufacturing is a practice that identifies the non value added activities that is considered as waste from the perspective of the customers and focuses on eliminating them. Here customer is anyone who consumes a product or uses as service and value defines the process for which customer would be willing to pay.

Basic principle of Lean manufacturing lies in the cost reduction by eliminating wastes. Lean principles are derived from the Japanese industry and in particular from Toyota Production System. It is famous for its efforts to eliminate the original “Toyota Seven Wastes”  leading to the improvement for Customer Value.

There were two different approaches to Lean Manufacturing.

(a)   First approach states the need for identifying and eliminating the waste which eventually leads to the improvement in quality and reduction in cost and production time.

(b)   Second approach focuses on improving the flow of work which steadily eliminates the waste from the system.

Lean manufacturing stresses on increased efficiency by focusing on optimizing flow. Waste reduction occurs naturally as a result of implementing the smooth flow. The goal of both the approaches is the same, they only differ in the way they achieve it.

Examples of the Lean tools are Value Stream Mapping, Kanban, Five S e.t.c.

Type of wastes

Lean focuses on reducing the waste and Toyota had defined three types of waste Muda, Muri and Mura. These are the Japanese words which forms the key concept in Toyota Production System.

Muda : It is a Japanese term for wasteful activity, unproductive and that does not add value. Distinction is being made between value added activity, waste and non value added activity wherein Non Value Added activity is considered as waste which must be completed.

Mura : It is a Japanese term for unevenness and inconsistency. It focuses to achieve the JIT (Just in Time) by eliminating the variations and thus ensuring smooth flow of value added steps.

Muri : It is a Japanese term for overburden and unreasonableness. It is demanding greater level of performance from a process than it is capable of.

Seven original Muda are as follows

(1)    Defects                        :  Checking for defects.

(2)    Inventory                 :  Unprocessed product

(3)   Overproduction      :  Exceeding Demand

(4)   Waiting Time            :  Next Step Awaiting

(5)    Motion                        :  Unnecessary human movement

(6)   Transportation         :  Moving the products not required

(7)   Processing Waste    :  Non Value Added activities

Just in time

Just in Time is a business improvement strategy wherein by reducing the  in-process inventory and its associated costs. It requires a very effective communication so that as soon as old stock gets consumed the new stock should be ordered. It involves a process where signals are being used to keep track of the activities and stock. It helps in reducing the inventory and costs. It also save spaces of warehouses.

Is Successful Lean Implementation a Challenge

The successful implementation of Lean poses a big challenge as it requires a lot of discipline. It has been implemented in numerous organizations throughout the globe and we have examples of both success and failure, however it cannot be said with certainty that Lean implementation is applicable for a particular sector. Only Toyota has made efforts to implement Lean in its every key processes.

Product designs are developed and checklists are reviewed so that not only costs are reduced but also the risk associated with project is decreased. Companies need to reinvent themselves continuously and look for new opportunities for reducing the overall costs and improving the performance.

Leaders have played a major role in making a Lean principles a big successes in various organizations. Experienced members at Toyota have ensured that the Lean Culture should be transferred across the company and one way to do is to guide other less experienced Lean players.

Lean Services and its future

Lean Thinking has met with success in some processes of the companies across the world and there is no such evidence to prove that Lean will be successful in some countries. One of the sector which has seen widespread application of Lean is call center industry. Big challenge is to utilize Lean thinking in public Sector and lack of reference implementation would make task of strong implementation difficult.

Lean Thinking is facing few critical challenges. There is need to discover new process technologies which will suit to Lean Value creation. Application of Lean in areas related to the management of information is required. Application of Lean thinking to all business processes apart from manufacturing industries will be tough task ahead.

Lean Six Sigma

What is Lean Six Sigma

In simple terms, Lean Six Sigma is a methodology which combines the business improvement methods of Lean manufacturing practice and Six Sigma process.  Lean practice focuses on speed of the process while Six Sigma relies on quality. Therefore by the fusion of both the practices we have Lean Six Sigma which provides speed and quality to the customers. It leads to faster improvement in the business processes relating to customer satisfaction, quality and cost.

Lean : Speed

Six Sigma : Quality

Lean Six Sigma : Quality with Speed

Lean Practice was evolved to bring about faster execution of the business processes and Six Sigma was devised to deliver quality excellence to the products and processes.  Each of this practice has its own benefits and drawbacks.  Initially, both the practices were considered rivals to each other. Followers of Lean stressed that Six Sigma does not take care of speed while advocators of Six Sigma pointed out lack of quality excellence in Lean methods.

How the Lean Six Sigma evolved

As a result of applying various tools for business improvement, the need for both the speed and quality was recognized. If a process is showing great speed but with no quality or quality with no speed then it does not lead to business improvement. So a balance process which focuses on both Lean and Six Sigma was evolved. In a way both these practices complement each other because of their unique features and they provide opportunities for streamlining the core processes.

Comparison between Lean and Six Sigma

(1)   Lean stresses on eliminating waste and creating flow while Six Sigma reduces variation and improves process capability by using the problem-solving approach with the help of statistical tools,

(2)   Lean is applied mainly to the manufacturing processes and Six Sigma is applicable for all the business process.

(3)   Lean projects are driven by Value Stream Map while Six Sigma takes up different approaches in a project selection.

(4)   Length of projects in Lean methodology is usually about one week to three months however Six Sigma it extends from two to six months.

(5)   No formal training is required with Lean approach however Six Sigma involves broad based training utilizing various resources.

Six Sigma Hypothesis

What is six sigma hypothesis?

Six Sigma HypothesisIn an organization, at the time of production of a product six sigma methodology is implemented in order to avoid defects and wastes and make sure that the product meets the customer satisfaction. At the time of six sigma quality improvement, a lot of money is at the risk point and if unproductive changes are taken or made, it leads to lot of loss to the company in both the finance and productive aspects. In order to avoid such a loss, it is that important in a business to test the efficacy of the changes made. This test can be done with the help of hypothesis tools and testing.


Hypothesis testing is a process using statistical analysis to determine whether the observed differences between two or more sample is due to null hypothesis or due to alternate hypothesis.

Hypothesis testing is a process of testing using a variety of statistical tools to analyze the data and to reject the null hypothesis and to accept the alternate hypothesis. A null hypothesis is a stated assumption about the differences in the parameters for two or more populations and the result of the difference is nil. Where as in alternate hypothesis, it is a statement of observed differences and relationship between two or more populations. the result thus obtained is real and the is not a chance or an error in the sampling. Hypothesis testing is used for defining test parameters, and authenticating data.

Defining test parameters:

Six Sigma HypothesisThe main aim of the implementation of six sigma in to a project team is to define the correct testing parameter. The faults in defining the objectives and the testing parameters, results in difficulty to ensure the success of the proposed changes. Even a small fault in the proposed change can result severely in the business process where it is being implemented. So it is better to use the hypothesis testing for attaining the accurate results of the testing.

Authenticating data:

Hypothesis testing cannot ensure the project team the effectiveness only with through defining the correct parameters, though it is certainly a necessary. In order to make the hypothesis testing correct, it is important to classify the collected data as soon as the parameters have been defined. It should be made sure that the collected data should be free from errors and inaccuracies. Once these steps are not cleared, it is difficult to get a better result, because the test will not reflect the real picture in the case of errors in the data.


Six Sigma HypothesisApart form the above advantages there are limitation for the using of hypothesis testing, in testing the effectiveness of a proposed changes. This is because, there are even many more factors that can affect a business process. Some of these factors are employee dissatisfaction, changes in the technology etc which cannot be tested with the help of hypothesis testing. There fore it is the duty of the analyst to make sufficient arrangements for all these types of testing and these test results can be used to compare with the hypothesis results to find out a proposed change, which confirms to suggested hypothesis.

For implementing six sigma hypothesis testing in a company, the companies hires seeks the help of experts from outside to provide adequate training to the employees.

Six Sigma Dmadv

What is six sigma DMADV?

Six Sigma DmadvWith in an organization, the objective is the long-term improvement of its processes in order to enhance the performance of the organization and the products, gain the interest of the customers, employees and shareholders, and thus sustain in the world of global marker competitive. Still just improving a process is not a complete business option, but a complete process re-design is required.

Under six sigma methodology, there exist two types of methods. They are DMADV & DMAIC. In DMADV, the focus is give with redesigning the process to satisfy the customer needs, where as in DMAIC, the focusing is on improving and controlling steps, which results in the production of quality products.

DMADV methodology:

The difference in the methods DMADV & DMAIC exists from the last two letter- “DV & IC”. Is the methodology of DMADV is as mentioned below:

1)     Define: It describes the need for defining the needs for finding out the goals from the project to be executed, in order to meet the customer satisfaction. Therefore, the first step involves in the explanation of both the internal and external goals from the product.

2)     Measure: The process is done to find out the quantity of the customer’s needs to measure the goal management and the quality of the product.

3)     Analyze: Through the process of analyzing, it is able to find out the existing cause of errors with in the organization and the process. It also helps in evaluating the corrective measures

4)     Design: Once the error origination is found out, the next step is to design the new process or a corrective measures to meet the target specification

5)     Verify: Verification is done simultaneously, to check the performance of the developed design and its quality to meet the target needs

From the above definition, it is clear that mere designing in new products and services is not the only matter, which leads to the success of the organization, but the practice of re-designing the process according to the needs of the target is also very much important. In addition, the same is the difference between the implementation of two methods in six sigma methodology.

Six Sigma DmadvIt is better to replace DMADV, than the other way. There are two occasions in which DMADV can be used to replace DMAIC. One occasion is at the time there is no existing product, out of which the organization is aiming to create from the scratch. At the time when the implementation of DMAIC  has not produced the expected result, though best efforts are done to make the improvements, DMADV methods can be used. It is proved that there are situations where planned DMAIC is been replaced by the use of DMADV method. The method is used at the time when the “improvement” process is not able to deliver the organization the expectations.

It is the black belts, who are having the in-depth knowledge in this methods.


Six Sigma

DmaicSix Sigma is an data driven approach used by many organizations that strives to achieve quality & perfection. It is a methodology used to eliminate defects & to determine the performance of the process. A defect is anything that is outside or against customer requirements. To achieve this, a process should not produce defects more than 3.4 per million opportunities.


DMAIC is one of the six sigma methodologies used for solving problems & bringing in improvement in process or products. DMAIC refers to Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve & Control.

A DMAIC methodology should be mainly used when a company has continuous production but the goods produced are not according to the required customer specifications or when the expected level of performance is not achieved.

  1. Define : In this phase, the goals relating to the project are defined. It mainly concentrates on defining customers & their requirements. The goals, benefits, team spirit & problem solving statements are developed.
  2. Measure : This phase measures the performance level of the process & also identifies the problems. Data is collected & the defects, relationships, collection plans, opportunities, etc are defined in detail.
  3. Analyze : In this phase, the root cause of the defects is thoroughly analyzed & determined. The objectives for Performance is set & the causes of variations are defined.
  4. Improve : Improving is a process of eliminating the defects in an project. Here different experiments are conducted, potential solutions are developed, causes of failure are identified & corrections relating to developing of potential solutions are carried out.
  5. Control : In this phase, future performance levels are controlled. Here a proper monitoring & control systems are developed. Standards are defined, procedures, statistical control processes & capabilities of the process are developed & effectively implemented. It is necessary to avoid cost, implement cost saving techniques, concentrate on profit growth, finalize documents & close the project successfully.

Though DMAIC is a recognized methodology, some people have added another component to it i.e. DMAICR where R refers to Realize. Some people don’t agree to it. They believe that six sigma is just a counter-part but with good improvement in a process & proper implementation of productive methods can enhance financial gains.

Six Sigma is a well defined approach in problem solving which focus on customer requirements & the impact of it. Statistical tools & analysis are used to develop an useful process. Six Sigma is being used in different fields such as production, business, medicine, administration, engineering, product designing, manufacturing, quality management, etc.