A Comparison of Lean and Six Sigma

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The Difference Between Lean and Six Sigma

The debate about the difference between Lean and Six Sigma has been an ongoing one. This is because both lean and Six Sigma work towards achieving the same goal and often thought of as being exclusive (Dunn, 2015). Lean is described as the management tool that eliminates wastes and reduces the timeframe between processes. Six Sigma, on the other hand, is defined in different ways. One definition states that it is a business strategy and philosophy that is meant to give business a competitive edge through the reduction and elimination of defects in both industrial and commercial processes. Evans (2017, p. 90) defines Six Sigma as "a business improvement approach that seeks to find and eliminate causes of defects and errors in manufacturing and service processes by focusing on outputs that are critical to customers and a clear financial return to the organization."

Other Differences Between Lean and Six Sigma

Other differences that have been noted are; Lean is concerned with the reduction in waste, while Six Sigma aims to reduce variation (Dunn, 2015). Six Sigma targets operational excellence by minimizing defects to the lowest levels possible while lean concentrations on cultivating speed. Six Sigma improves cost that accrues from poor quality, on the other hand, lean deals with operations costs. Regarding the learning curve, Six Sigma has a long one while lean's trajectory is shorter. The improvement process approaches used in Six Sigma varies while lean relies on value stream mapping (Dunn, 2015). Also, Six Sigma and lean differ on the time length that it takes to fulfill them. Six Sigma takes up to 6 months while lean takes 3. Further, Sigma is driven by data while lean is demand driven.

Comparison of TQM and Six Sigma Qualities

Compare the qualities of TQM with qualities of Six Sigma. Which qualities do you find most beneficial and why?

Six Sigma and Total Quality Management are tools that are used to manage quality in organizations. As tools of management, the methodologies and procedures used in implanting them are often similar (Dunn, 2015). However, some difference also exists between the two processes. The basic difference between the two is the areas of application. Total Quality Management helps organizations achieve superior quality in manufactured goods while Six Sigma ensures better results (Dunn, 2015). The qualities of Six Sigma include the use of specific metrics to make decisions, reduce quality variation and improve quality, focus on speed, and eliminate non-value work. TQM achieves its objective by focusing on new systems and processes that provide effective coordination of production processes. Six Sigma ensures that necessary changes that will ensure these processes maintain effectiveness and efficiency. Other notable features of total quality of TQM are maintaining existing standards regarding quality; it's less complicated. In comparison to Six Sigma, it considered less complicated. Six Sigma, on the other hand, is change focused, minimize and eliminates defects, is more complicated than TQM and delivers better results. Consistency in quality improvement, limited use of data, training is an on-going process, and harnessing the support of every individual in the organization towards quality improvement.

I find the TQM qualities more beneficial because of the lasting effect it brings to an organization through bringing on board all employees and management towards a common goal and offers the organization a basis to be better. The continuous improvement also offers an organization a higher competitive advantage improving its stakeholder compared to other companies in the same filed.

Situations to Use Six Sigma

Explain under what situations you would you elect to use one of these tools, Sigma Six

Lean as a quality management tool is used in an organization that has long and effective operations. The primary focus of lean is to reduce the timeframe from the time when an order is made and the actual delivery time of the product. Lean is used to deal with wastage that occurs in the production process and ensures that there is no downtime in the production chain. The Six Sigma is used to streamline the operations process by eliminating defects that exist in those processes to ensure that the results achieved are better (Dunn, 2015). Six Sigma is applicable in organizations that need to improve their products and maintain a competitive edge over their competitors because of continues improvement. TQM is useful in organizations that are focused on improving the quality of their products to either fight off or keep competition away. It is also best suited for organizations that want quality through a tool that is not complex and easy to deploy. Therefore, I would use Sigma Six and total quality management in situations where the aim is to seek continuous improvement and to create a culture of product and service excellence at an organization.


Dunn, T.  (2015). Lean Six Sigma Deployment Made Easy. Retrieved from https://youtu.be/pxNuSkbakmY

Evans, J. R. (2017). Quality and performance excellence, management, organization, and strategy (8th ed.). Boston, MA: Cengage Learning.

November 13, 2023

Business Economics Life

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