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Lean, ISO, and Six Sigma


Lean

Lean is a series of tools and techniques for managing your organization’s processes. Specifically, Lean focuses on eliminating all non-value-added activities and waste from processes. Although Lean tools differ from application to application, the goal is always incremental and breakthrough improvement. Lean projects might focus on eliminating or reducing anything a final customer would not want to pay for:

  • scrap
  • rework
  • inspection
  • inventory
  • queuing or wait time
  • transportation of materials or products
  • redundant motion
  • other non-value-added process steps


Lean-focused organizations extend the concepts of waste elimination and value-added processes to suppliers, partners, and customers. At full potential, all aspects of a Lean organization’s value chain have eliminated waste and are operating at full value-added potential.


ISO 9000

ISO 9000 is a series of five international standards published in 1987 by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), in Geneva, Switzerland. Companies use the standards to help determine what they need to maintain an efficient quality conformance system. For example, the standards describe the need for an effective quality system, regular calibration of measuring and testing equipment, and an adequate record-keeping system. ISO 9000 registration determines whether a company complies with its own quality system.

The standards define minimum requirements for quality assurance systems that directly influence product quality and customer satisfaction without suggesting tools for analysis, prioritization, and evaluation.


Six Sigma

The aim of Six Sigma is to reduce variation through statistical methods that lower process defect rates to less than 3.4 defects per million opportunities. Six Sigma focuses on putting measurement systems in place for work processes. Within these systems, Six Sigma projects identify the need to reduce variation and improve processes.


Six Sigma projects may involve anything from improving the processes involved in mass-producing component parts to completely redesigning an aircraft completion process so that the aircraft requires less maintenance. The Six Sigma methodology DMAIC (define, measure, analyze, improve, and control) is the system for improving existing processes that fall below specifications and need incremental improvement. DMADV (define, measure, analyze, design, and verify—sometimes referred to as Design for Six Sigma [DFSS])—is used to develop new processes or products at Six-Sigma-quality levels.


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