I teach that by itself Lean is a way to redesign a value stream according to certain principles to improve flow in a value stream, thereby reducing cycle time and achieving a number of other benefits quickly. Six Sigma has two modes: project and operational. The project mode involves a framework such as DMAIC or DfSS. The operational mode employs Six Sigma principles (management by facts and data, statistical thinking, systematic identification of root causes of outcomes, etc.) to achieve stakeholder goals. Lean Six Sigma can be used to provide a framework for kaizen bursts, or to solve other problems preventing continuous flow in an organization or value stream.
Hmmm…Upon re-reading this it strikes me that it’s full of jargon. Let’s try putting it into layman’s terms.
Lean helps you make things with minimal waste and delay. Six Sigma helps you find out why things vary and how to reduce variation. Lean Six Sigma helps you solve challenging problems causing waste and delay.