5 Reasons Why Managers need Lean Six Sigma

Since the beginning of time, humans have strived to deliver quality results. From the pyramids of Egypt to the Burj Al Arab in Dubai, humans have been on the quest for optimal quality. The concept of quality is not new. Prior to the industrial revolution, products were made manually through handcrafting and tweaking, from start to finish.

In this article, we will discuss:

  •    What is Lean?
  •    What is Six Sigma?
  •    What is Lean Six Sigma?
  •    Why Lean Six Sigma is important for Managers:

                                          – Clear direction and focus

                                          – Enhanced problem definition

                                          – Role clarity

                                          – Standardized work methods

                                          – Better performance improvement 

  • Conclusion
Table of Contents

What is Lean?

Henry Ford’s 1913 assembly line production technique brought a fresh perspective on mass production. Several years later, ‘Toyota’ reinvented and popularized the Lean concept. Lean focuses on removing waste. Waste is anything that does not add value to your product or service. In other words, you need just the right amount of equipment, materials, parts, space, and workers’ time.

What is Six Sigma?

Six Sigma is an approach to achieving improved effectiveness and process quality by reducing variation. It focuses on identifying and removing the causes of defects in processes with the application of statistical tools to identify and remove causes of variation for which measures are needed. Six Sigma was conceived by Motorola when they lost market share in 1979. Two engineers at Motorola pioneered the work of improving processes and resolving defects.

What is Lean Six Sigma?

Lean Six Sigma is the combination of ‘Lean’ and ‘Six Sigma’. Lean Six Sigma comprises a set of powerful tools and techniques that will help any organization or individual improve their efficiency and effectiveness.

The history of Lean Six Sigma can be traced back to the early 2000s. The concept was used in a book titled ‘Leaning into Six Sigma: The Path to the integration of Lean Enterprise and Six Sigma’ by Barbara Wheat and others.

In today’s business landscape, the need for quality management cannot be over-emphasized. Effective quality management leads to reduced cost, increased revenue and customer satisfaction. For instance, Motorola generated over $2.2 billion in revenue within four years and $16 billion within 15 years after implementing a quality programme. Also, General Electric (GE) saved over $12 billion in five years by adopting a quality programme.

Why Lean Six Sigma is important for Managers

Managers are tasked with the responsibility of managing themselves and others. Transitioning from an individual contributor to a managerial role can be daunting. If you are a manager already, becoming a great manager is no easy feat.

As a manager or an aspiring manager, it is critical to know what your direct reports need to do their jobs successfully. Here, we highlighted 5 reasons why you need Lean Six Sigma:

1. Clear direction and focus

Continuous improvement and renewal begin with a clear strategy and cascading goals to teams and individuals. It is essential that managers set clear objectives and key performance indicators (KPIs). When managers explain why things are done rather than just what they do, direct reports are more likely to become involved.

2. Enhanced problem definition

Every manager is solving a problem. Ideally, managers define every problem and turn each day into a problem-solving day. As a manager, you should be clear about: where things are today, where things should have been, and the organization’s desired state and reality. To become a high-performing manager, it is expedient to develop problem-solving skills. Lean Six Sigma is all about problem-solving.

For instance, a problem may be:

Less than 1000 visitors to the website as against 1,000,000 per month impeding the marketing TOFU goal. Or

Customer conversion rate target is 40%. The current state is 18%.

3. Role clarity

To achieve overall work-related goals, it is important to define the critical work functions (CWFs), key tasks, and associated key performance indicators (KPIs) required for a role. The CWFs are the key responsibilities required to perform work-related goals, as defined in a skill or competency standard. Knowledge of Lean Six Sigma helps managers better define the CWFs and associated skills required to achieve the overall work-related goal.

4. Standardized work methods

Work should be organized and standardized. Knowledge of Lean Six Sigma helps managers to know the work methods that must be used to get the job done. For instance, clear procedures, work instructions, job aids together with KPIs all ensure that the right work is done the right way.

5. Better performance improvement

For work processes to function effectively, people must drive and use them. As managers, it can be challenging getting direct reports to follow a work process. However, Lean Six Sigma provides an array of tools, principles, and techniques to help track individual performance based on KPIs. In addition, the knowledge of Lean Six Sigma helps managers improve processes.


Most people get carried away by the statistical aspect of Lean Six Sigma. Lean Six Sigma emphasizes servant leadership. Managers serve the team by providing standard operating procedures (SOPs), improving work methods, and ensuring direct reports are committed to the team and organizational goals.

Lean Six Sigma is a core skill that everyone needs. Whether you are a manager or an aspiring manager, you will find Lean Six Sigma useful.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Related Articles

Please complete the form below to submit an enquiry