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What is Lean Six Sigma and how can it help my business?

Updated: Mar 14

Fishbone diagram showing Lean Six Sigma in action in a business process mapping context
Fishbone Diagram

At JNBA Consultancy, we use our Business Process Modelling and Mapping training, alongside the practices of Lean Six Sigma to help organisations reach their full potential.

So what is Lean Six Sigma?

Lean Six Sigma is the amalgamation of two methodologies, Lean and Six Sigma, that are known to powerfully improve business processes by removing waste, reducing process variation and maximising efficiency.

A bit of history...

In the early 1980s, Bill Smith at Motorola developed the Six Sigma principles in order to measure defects and improve overall quality. This evolved over the years to include improving process with regards to interaction and product design.

Lean is the concept of efficient manufacturing/operations that grew out of the Toyota Production System in the middle of the 20th century. It concentrates on understanding the VOC (Voice of the customer - what do they value) and then improving the process to ensure the business is meeting that demand, Any process or task that is not aligned to the VOC, is classed as waste and removed. This is where the well known "just in time" philosophy was born.

Together, they have been proven to dramatically improve cost, quality and time by focusing on process improvement.

How does this help your business?

Processes can easily become outdated, unclear or your customer needs can change so they are no longer delivering the required output.

Using the principles of Lean Six Sigma, along with Business Process Modelling and Mapping, provides transparency. Giving you the insight into how your processes work.

They help to highlight any potential waste or non-value added steps by carefully analysing the processes and data.

With the use of tools to complete root cause analysis, you can identify the real trigger of issues in the way you work and the provide fixes to remove them.

The result of all the analysis allows you to design new processes that reduce the variations of outcome, improve efficiency by removing any waste or non-value added tasks that are not for customer or business benefit and overall, improve customer satisfaction and business performance.

Frequently asked questions:

Can you provide specific examples of how Lean Six Sigma has been applied in real-world business scenarios to achieve significant improvements?

Lean Six Sigma has been successfully applied in various industries such as manufacturing, healthcare, and finance. For example, in manufacturing, companies have used Lean Six Sigma to streamline production processes, reduce defects, and improve overall efficiency, leading to cost savings and increased customer satisfaction. In healthcare, Lean Six Sigma has been utilised to optimise patient flow, reduce wait times, and enhance the quality of care delivery. Similarly, in finance, organisations have applied Lean Six Sigma to streamline transaction processes, reduce errors, and improve operational performance.

How does Business Process Modeling and Mapping complement Lean Six Sigma methodologies in the context of organisational improvement?

Business Process Modeling and Mapping complements Lean Six Sigma methodologies by providing a visual representation of current processes and identifying areas for improvement. By mapping out workflows and identifying inefficiencies or bottlenecks, organisations gain a deeper understanding of their operations and can target specific areas for optimisation using Lean Six Sigma tools and techniques. Additionally, Business Process Modeling and Mapping help in communicating process changes across the organisation, ensuring alignment and buy-in from stakeholders.

How do organisations measure the success and effectiveness of Lean Six Sigma initiatives, and what key performance indicators (KPIs) are commonly used to evaluate the impact on business performance?

Organisations measure the success and effectiveness of Lean Six Sigma initiatives through various key performance indicators (KPIs) that are aligned with their specific business goals and objectives. Common KPIs used to evaluate the impact of Lean Six Sigma include:

1. Cost savings: Organisations track the monetary savings achieved through process improvements, such as reduced waste, lower operational expenses, and increased efficiency.

2. Defect reduction: This KPI measures the decrease in defects or errors within processes, products, or services as a result of Lean Six Sigma initiatives. It reflects improvements in quality and customer satisfaction.

3. Cycle time reduction: Organisations monitor the time it takes to complete a process or deliver a product/service from start to finish. Reductions in cycle time indicate increased efficiency and faster time-to-market.

4. Process variation: Measurement of process variation helps assess the consistency and predictability of processes. Lower variation indicates greater stability and reliability in delivering consistent results.

5. Customer satisfaction: Feedback from customers is used to evaluate improvements in customer experience resulting from Lean Six Sigma initiatives.

6. Employee engagement: Organisations track employee engagement levels and satisfaction with their work environment, as Lean Six Sigma initiatives often involve empowering employees, fostering collaboration, and promoting a culture of continuous improvement.

By monitoring these KPIs, organisations can assess the impact of Lean Six Sigma initiatives on business performance and make data-driven decisions to further optimise processes and drive sustainable improvements.

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