Thursday, 20 July 2017

Six Sigma Vs. Lean Vs. Kaizen

With the emphasis completely on quality today, almost all organizations – big and small – are struggling to achieve and sustain quality systems. There has been a display of a variety of quality initiatives that have promised phenomenal results in reducing costs and increasing profits. Managers and team leaders have been flooded with different ideas over the years, with every system promising greater rewards. Out of these, many have failed, while many have succeeded like Six Sigma, Lean, and Kaizen. However, since the past many years, these three terms have lost their individual identity, and have been used interchangeably without people knowing the true meaning of these words. When people have their hands on one of these tools, they think they don't need the other because they all are one and the same thing. What they fail to realize is that every concept or tool has its own individuality and capacity to solve problems. This blog will help you learn about all these three terms separately so that you can differentiate between them and understand each one of them better.

What is Six Sigma?
Six Sigma is a set of tools and strategies that can limit defects and variations. It is a problem-solving methodology that is driven by data and focuses on customer satisfaction. It depends upon two basic methodologies – DMAIC (Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, Control) and DMADV (Define, Measure, Analyze, Design, Verify). Moreover, advanced statistical techniques like Pareto charts and root cause analysis are used to reach quantified value targets. Achieving a Six Sigmacertification in India from professionals like TQMI can help you grasp the skills of improving quality of business processes by limiting defects and variations, thus improving customer satisfaction.

What is Kaizen?
Kaizen is a Japanese term for ‘Change for the better’ which is also referred to as continuous improvement. This clearly shows that Kaizen is a journey and not a destination. Moreover, it is a mindset, and not a tool. It uses personal creativity and initiative to identify problems, and develop and implement ideas to solve them. Its philosophy believes that everything can be improved and everything can perform better and more efficiently. Another prominent feature of Kaizen is its belief that big results come from multiple small changes accumulated over time. However, Kaizen does not equal small changes; it equals everyone’s involvement in making improvements. To get into the details, Kaizen helps to identify the 3 MUs, which are Muda (wastes), Mura (variations), and Muri (strain).

What is Lean?
Lean is the methodology that is applied for waste minimization within an organization without sacrificing on productivity. It is a set of problem-solving tools that can reduce or eliminate the processes that don't add value. In this way, only valuable processes are adopted and wasteful steps are removed. Valuable processes are those that assist in improving quality and productivity. They also include those that may or may not add value for the customer, but are crucial for the continuity of a process. And, wasteful steps are those that include defects, over production, excess inventory, extra processing, unnecessary transportation, unnecessary motion, non-utilized talent, and waiting time. This means that Lean ultimately results in high quality, and thus customer satisfaction.

To sum it up, Kaizen is a continuous improvement process that standardizes processes and increases efficiency by involving everyone to eliminate waste. Lean is a process of eliminating wastes to improve process speed and quality. And, Six Sigma is a process to improve quality of the final product by eliminating the variations that lead to defects by measuring the deviation of the process from perfection. Although these processes may seem similar, they have a significant difference from one another. Now, to decide whether one is better than the other would be unwise. You can use all of these methods in their own ways within different processes and working of your organization so that you can save time and money, and boost quality and customer satisfaction.

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