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January 10, 2010
Interesting thing in both lean and six sigma that they have many things in common and most obvious are their origin and evolution. Six sigma and lean are two practices which initially originated from Japanese quality methodologies and tools. Despite they became most popular in the West; both of them are combination of tools used in Japan. Among different improvement Japanese tools six sigma and lean was organized so that to target particular problem, faced at different times by the West and Japan (poor quality vs. deficit of resources). The second issue is their evolution. Nowadays six sigma and lean are presented as mature methodologies, which developed beyond their origins, initially they regarded as operational level improvement tools and today they regarded by many as business strategies and even organizational philosophies.
Six sigma and lean today could be seen as most popular improvement methodologies with many followers across different industries. Both methodologies proved their effectiveness and ability to work and be successful on their own. As they develop scholars and companies realize their strengths and limitations and try to combine them with other quality initiatives, which could eliminate those benefits and support strengths. However sometimes attempts fail because of contradictory or conflict nature of combined approaches. As far as six sigma and lean are concerned combination of both is seen as successful in both literature and practice. Their combination, in general, is easy to implement. There is no rigid structure both in lean and six sigma and there is no barriers for their combination as they just themselves a combination of different tools and techniques. Both lean and six sigma are organization of different tools to solve particular and different from each other problems, but the problems, which could occur in the same process, therefore six sigma and lean do not contradict each other as they see and cure the same process from different, non-conflict angles and aspects.