Lean Six Sigma principles

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Apr 15, 2024

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Typically one must choose the appropriate methodologies applicable for the projects based on the need of your business. One such important methodology is Six Sigma. It is used to reduce the defects in the services or products and reduce variations in the processes and thus increases productivity across all the product lines in many industries.

There are various methodologies available such as Agile, Prince2, XPM, Six Sigma, Lean, and PMBOK, etc. One needs to know one of the methodologies at least to be a certified project manager. Project managers who are certified are in great demand and are preferred in the industry than the project manager without certifications. 

What are six sigma and lean six sigma 

Six sigma's main goal is to decrease the defects below 3.4 defects for every one million opportunities. Six sigma unlike other methodologies is based on data and its analysis is done by using statistics.

Six Sigma is the project management methodology that uses the 7 principles and phases namely the DMAIC Principles, Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve and Control for existing processes and Define, Measure, Analyze, Design and Verify - DMADV for the new processes to reduce the defects in the products or services and reduce the variance in the processes. 

Six Sigma

Lean principles are used to generate value to the customer by reducing the waste in the processes. 

The fundamental elements of Lean Six Sigma methodology try to bring in the value of both such as zero waste in the process and reduce the defects in the products or services and reduce variance in the processes.  

How to apply lean and six sigma to improve the performance of the business 

You need to have cultural change if you want to apply Lean six sigma principles. There is no single method to achieve this, as the lean six sigma is a framework on which you need to build the systems, First thing is to analyze the current processes and where we are not doing the best, the core of lean six sigma tells us to improve the process from the scratch and bring it to the best practices of standardization. Everyone in the organization must be willing to adopt the lean six sigma framework. 

It has many benefits such as improvement in the processes, reduction in the defects and variance, make zero waste, applies standardization, data-driven informed decision making, team collaboration, accountability, and use of statistical methods to control the output of the products or services.

Apply six sigma and lean to the processes in the hope to first improve, optimize, standardize, repetitive, and finally to make it adaptive.

What are the six sigma principles

There are 7 key Six sigma principles they are as follows,

1) Customer Focus - Need to understand the importance of the customer. The first principle of six sigma is to focus on the customer and drive the business. Make the deliverables as per the customer requirements and specifications. There is increased collaboration within the team once you have a focus on the customer deliverables. This is one of the management strategies also to motivate the team. So have the all phases of the projects by putting the customer first. Of course, you can think of your own organization's profits and other constraints such as cost, scope, and time of the project, this will not change.

2)Comprehending the work - Once you have current processes or set up new processes do the technique called process mining. There are tools available in the market for process mining. Understand the workflow and make the tasks and activities of the project simpler and easier. This can be done by breaking down the high-level functional requirements and specifications into smaller modules such as activities and tasks. Then make the workflow diagram and make each process to get the final deliverables for the customer.

3) Streamline the processes - Now once your workflow is ready you need to streamline the processes in such a way that it is optimized based on the constraints namely cost, scope, and time. You need to make the process for individual tasks and activities. There may be a requirement that tasks and activities are interdependent and do the process map accordingly. Even if there is a slack period there is nothing wrong, however, the optimization of the process is the key to six sigma.

4) Value addition and waste reduction - Here use the lean principles techniques to add value in every processing flow and reduce the waste to zero. The waste is seen in everyday activities such as waste of overproduction, waste of rework, waste of over-processing, waste of inventory, waste of time, waste of transportation and waste of defective products, etc. See how we can eliminate these core wastes from every process. There are 5 key waste reduction methods they are as follows,

  • visibility of the waste
  • understand where the waste occurs
  • take accountability for the waste
  • measure the waste
  • finally, eliminate the waste

5) Remove defects and remove variations - One you have eliminated the waste you need to remove defects from the products or services and remove variations in the processes. Keep applying the principles of Six sigma for eliminating the waste. This can be done by standardization of the products or services and the processes. First, try to come to one sigma and then slowly up through the standards to reach the six sigmas. This is one of the core principles of six sigma and eliminates defects up to and less than 3.4 defects per million opportunities (DPMO). This means the processes is more than 99.99966% efficient. The tool like "Process Street" can be used to evaluate the processes. In this principle, the quality of the product is improved and emphasized.

Process Street

6) Enhance collaboration within the team - One of the key principles of six sigma is not only improving the processes but to improve how the team interacts with each other in the project to produce the best products or services. The junior-most team member on the line will see the issue first and know what is happening with the product. To provide motivation and improve the quality of communication among the team members, ask the team members to report immediately if they see any deviations in the product or service line. This helps in mitigating the trouble and failure of the product. As per six sigma, every team member is given titles such as process owner, process champion, black belts, and green belts, etc to collaborate effectively.

7) Streamline the efforts systematically and scientifically - Rely on facts and data to coordinate the efforts and do it scientifically and systematically. The deliverables must be measurable and so is every task and activity. Go for the facts and make data-informed decisions. This is the core of six sigma. 

There are many statistical tools available such as for calculating the regression analysis, predictive analysis, exploratory data analysis, descriptive, inferential, prescriptive analysis, median, mode, mean, and range. Go for the data-driven analysis to make informed decisions.


We have seen how lean and six sigma together helps the organization with many benefits. To learn more about the six sigma and its real-world applications get certified in various belts such as white belt, yellow belt, green belt, black belt, master back belt, and champions. StarAgile conducts online training on various six sigma green and black belts. To explore more and register for the training click on the link given. 


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