Choosing the Right Method: Lean, Six Sigma
The main principle of lean project management is reducing waste in an already
established process. More often applied to manufacturing and production than product
development, it focuses on key process improvement points, such as reducing bottlenecks
and standardizing means of production.
Because of this, other industries have adapted portions of lean project management,
such as logistics, distribution, healthcare, retail and government. Although it
has a different application than the agile methodology, the two share common elements
such as pipelining and valuing a strong facilitator.
While lean project management can be traced as far back as the 1450s, the first
person credited with using the approach was Henry Ford in 1913.
The lean process was comprehensively outlined in the 1990 book, The Machine
That Changed the World by James P. Womack, Daniel Roos, and Daniel T. Jones. They
proposed five clearly outlined steps:
- Identify value for the customer;
- Identify the value stream and question any wasted steps in delivering that
- Enable the product to continually flow through subsequent steps;
- Highlight areas where continuous flow is possible; and
- Move toward the ideal state, continually evaluating and eliminating unnecessary
You can learn more about the Lean Management method at: pmi.org/Learning/publications-pm-network/feature-lean-management.aspx.
This is a set of tools for process improvement. Originally developed for General
Electric, it's now utilized across the industrial sectors. Effective in both the
manufacturing and the business process, Six Sigma improves output quality by seeking
and removing the sources of defects and variability. By analyzing empirical data,
it creates a hierarchy within an organization of improvement experts who continually
seek out ways to reduce inefficiency.
Six-Sigma is a data-driven, customer-focused approach that also identifies
a value stream (how the work gets done). As the flow is being improved and managed,
unnecessary steps are eliminated. The approach systematically works toward continual
improvement by involving and instructing those involved in the process.
Six-Sigma has been used in finance, HR, IT, marketing and in the healthcare
industries. Notable companies that have used this approach include Bombardier,
Ford, Maple Leaf Farms, Praxair, FedEx, Sun Micro Systems, SONY and Toshiba.
explores the Six Sigma method.