This Guest paper was submitted for publication and is copyright to Patrick Hankinson © 2016.
Published here February 2016

Editor's Note | Introduction | Exploring an Array of Methodologies  
Phases of a Project Management Process: Preparation | Delivery
Choosing the Right Method: Agile, Scrum | Lean, Six Sigma | Kanban, Other Methodologies
Software Can Make the Difference

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:

  1. Identify value for the customer;
  2. Identify the value stream and question any wasted steps in delivering that value;
  3. Enable the product to continually flow through subsequent steps;
  4. Highlight areas where continuous flow is possible; and
  5. Move toward the ideal state, continually evaluating and eliminating unnecessary steps.

You can learn more about the Lean Management method at:

Six Sigma

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.

 Choosing the Right Method: Agile, Scrum   Choosing the Right Method: Agile, Scrum

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