Compare and Contrast: six sigma, lean, and kaizen
Siena Heights University
HCM301-OG, Summer 2015
May 20, 2015
This paper will work to compare and contrast six sigma, lean process improvement, and Kaizen. In so doing, it will serve to elaborate on the different similarities in each of these process improvement methods and the ways in which they differ, detailing a clear understanding of each of the three different approaches. Keywords: process improvement methods, business tools, compare, contrast, lean, six sigma, Kaizen
Compare and Contrast
There are many different tools that may be implemented within the business world to work to better improve a particular process, address a current issue, address a potential future issue, or work to identify issues prior to their occurrence in order to ensure that the business continues to run smoothly (Burton, 2015). Understanding what each of those different tools are and how they are best applied is the first step in succeeding in the business world. Through a review of three different tools, lean process improvement, six sigma, and Kaizen, it will be possible to determine the similarities and differences in each of these different tools and indicate an overall understanding of how and when to apply each.
Six sigma is a tool that works to implement “a measurement-based strategy that focuses on process improvement and variation reduction through the application of six sigma protocols” (What is Six Sigma, 2015, p. 1). Lean production, or lean process improvement, is a practice that works to slim down the overall process used in the completion of a task, working to simplify and optimize business processes in all areas, concerned with applying the smoothest transitional process with the least amount of bulk or excess possible (Hunt, 2015). Kaizen is a “practice of continuous improvement,” one that works to constantly seek out potential areas of issue, find solutions, and work to achieve the best possible results and outcomes for the organization, and then turning around and doing it again, never allowing the business to stagnate and constantly striving for perfection (Kaizen Institute, 2015, p. 1).
When comparing each of the three different process improvement processes, the first and most obvious similarity between the three is that they are all geared toward the continual improvement of the organization itself (Kaizen Institute, 2015; What is Six Sigma, 2015; Hunt, 2015; Burton, 2015). In addition, each of the three different methods is focused on the appropriate application of “leadership, creativity, (and) innovation” for the purpose of working to improve the organization as a whole (Burton, 2015, p. 1). Each of the different processes require the requisite knowledge of the tools being used, place a continual focus on improvement, and work on a closed loop performance system, looking at the internal factors within the organization that need addressing first and foremost before they turn to any outside factors (Burton, 2015). Finally, each of the different improvement processes all require that all employees are actively involved in the improvement process and that those employees work together, as a team, whenever necessary, for the accomplishment of the improvement being implemented within the organization (Burton, 2015).
It is here, however, that those similarities end. For while on the surface it may appear as though each of the different process improvement tools is similar to the next, when looking below the surface, it is possible to see how different each of the three practices truly are. Understanding these differences is just as important to determining the most appropriate tool to use, and a key to remaining successful in the business world. Kaizen is a continuous process of improvement, while six sigma and lean improvement practices are geared toward addressing a specific issue and then, once the...
References: Burton, T. (2015). Is This a Six Sigma, Lean or Kaizen Project?. Isixsigma.com. Retrieved 20 May 2015, from http://www.isixsigma.com/new-to-six-sigma/how-is-six-sigma-different/six-sigma-lean-or-kaizen-project/
Hunt, B. (2015). Lean Process & Lean Project Management | Process Excellence Network. Processexcellencenetwork.com. Retrieved 20 May 2015, from http://www.processexcellencenetwork.com/lean-six-sigma-business-transformation/articles/the-history-and-simplicity-of-lean-process-improve/
Isixsigma.com. (2015). What Is Six Sigma?. Retrieved 20 May 2015, from http://www.isixsigma.com/new-to-six-sigma/getting-started/what-six-sigma/
Kaizen Institute. (2015). What is Kaizen | Definition of KAIZEN | Kaizen Meaning. Retrieved 20 May 2015, from http://www.kaizen.com/about-us/definition-of-kaizen.html
Walters, C. (2013). Lean | Six Sigma | Kaizen | What Is Lean Six Sigma Kaizen |. Lean Blitz Consulting. Retrieved 20 May 2015, from http://leanblitzconsulting.com/2013/01/what-is-lean-six-sigma-kaizen/
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