• Innovative
  • Applicable


Six Sigma devotees may dispute the need to add anything to Six Sigma, but a shot of Lean thinking provides a production boost. Consultant Michael L. George contends that Six Sigma reduces product quality variation but does nothing to improve delivery time. That may not be strictly true. However, the author’s analysis and presentation of the Lean Six Sigma approach is lucid and straightforward. The explanation of Six Sigma alone is much clearer than some other texts on the subject and even some Six Sigma veterans may appreciate the refresher. George provides some compelling examples of companies that have successfully used the Lean Six Sigma approach. getAbstract recommends this book primarily to leaders and managers of firms that rely on factories and other production units. However, the author also supplies practical information that will be relevant to service providers and to every company that cares about customer service and efficient production.


Why Combine Lean and Six Sigma

General Electric CEO Jack Welch famously described Six Sigma as “the most important initiative GE has ever undertaken.” Yet, Welch admitted that Six Sigma alone was not enough to achieve the performance improvements the company needed. In his 1998 annual report, he said that GE had managed to “move the mean” and achieve great improvements. However, it had not managed to eliminate variances.

An improvement of average delivery times, for example, means little to customers. A customer does not experience the average. He or she may experience a very satisfying faster-than-expected delivery or a very frustrating later-than-acceptable delivery.

Six Sigma focuses on defects, but says nothing about time. When Jack Welch recognized the insufficiency of Six Sigma, he added a new measure he called “span.” This term refers to the variation in delivery based on the customer’s requested delivery date.

In December 2000, a survey in Industry Week magazine showed that Jack Welch was not the only manager struggling with the difficulty of reducing delivery time to a predictable, reliable standard.

The survey found that ...

About the Author

Michael L. George is founder and CEO of The George Group, the biggest Lean Six Sigma consultancy in the United States.

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