Lean and Six Sigma have already been on an incredible run over the last couple of decades, although both approaches are based on good business management principles that have been around for a lot longer. In addition to producing billions in bottom line impact for companies seriously implementing it, it has gained notoriety and quite frankly, shows no signs of letting up soon.
With considerable time and attention being devoted by senior and front line managers, scores of employees are being trained in Lean and Six Sigma tools and techniques leading to on the job application to drive business unit, functional, corporate objectives and ultimately, profitability.
Can it go on like this indefinitely?
A common question about the future of Lean Six Sigma is, when will it begin to wind down and perhaps morph into something else.
Continuous improvement also applies to Lean Six Sigma so whatever the ‘next big thing’ is it will look at least vaguely familiar. Some of these core strengths are the use of proven statistical tools, an overall improvement framework or roadmap (such as DMAIC), customer focus, utilisation of a formal infrastructure to supply the needed people, money and other resources, freeing top talent to work on the initiative and of course, reliance on senior leadership commitment.
To conclude, Lean Six Sigma is not just a set of tools and techniques- it’s a mindset and an attitude. Until this critical success factor is realized, most corporate Lean Six Sigma initiatives will be limited to ad-hoc improvements and fail to realize the benefits initially envisaged.