Lean vs Six Sigma | EEF

Lean vs Six Sigma

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If you are considering implementing a business efficiency program, understanding the differences between Lean and Six Sigma can be a big help. Here we look at the differences and similarities of the two systems.

As Manufacturing Growth Director, Steve helps businesses to compete, innovate and grow providing advice and support on new product development, intellectual property protection and production process optimisation. His broad career includes MD of £75M multi-site, European medium volume manufacturing company, Director of global sourcing in a $12B US corporation, MD of an off-shore engineering company in India and design and engineering leadership in sectors spanning aircraft to lawn-mowers. He has a PhD and MSc in Aerospace Vehicle Design, Cranfield, BSc Aircraft Engineering, Salford and is a Six Sigma Green Belt.

There has been a debate raging about Lean vs Six Sigma for some time.  For many, this argument is a waste of time and energy, in fact, it’s not very Lean.  Choosing which system and process to adopt is as much about the cultural fit and organisational need as anything. The two systems can work together very effectively too.

If you are considering a Lean implementation or Six Sigma project, it’s important that you understand some of the major differences between the two systems.


In reality, it is hard to have one of these systems without the other.  Lean Six Sigma is a methodology that combines process speed with quality.  To make your organisation truly efficient, you need both Lean and Six Sigma methodologies in place – having one without the other ultimately leads to a series of failing processes.

Lean focuses on the reduction of waste.  The less you waste within your organisation, the more value you can pass on to your customers which improves your product and your overall profitability.

Six Sigma is more of a statistically based quality tool that focuses on reducing the number of errors in processes and activities.  By using performance data, Six Sigma belts (the people within your organisation who are running the project) can identify the root cause of errors and deal with them.

Both are excellent ways of creating improvements in your organisation.  By combining the two, it is possible create a truly efficient and effective process driven business that delivers highly profitable and excellent value products.

Through EEF’s Lean Academy you can learn all of the skills and techniques you would require to implement a Lean Six Sigma programme within your own company.  Using real tools and systems, the EEF Lean Academy is the market’s leading Lean and Six Sigma training course and can be delivered in house our through our dedicated training centres.



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