Table of Contents

what is lean six sigma?
What is Lean Six Sigma?
by Mike George, Dave Rowlands and Bill Kastle  ISBN:007142668X
McGraw-Hill © 2004 (92 pages)

In this plain-English guide, you'll discover how the quality improvement method of Lean Six Sigma can give you the tools to identify and eliminate waste and quality problems in your own work area.

Table of Contents
What is Lean Six Sigma?
Introduction - What’s In This For You
Part 1 - Foundations of Lean Six Sigma
Chapter 1 - The Four Keys to Lean Six Sigma
Chapter 2 - Key #1: Delight Your Customers with Speed and Quality
Chapter 3 - Key #2: Improve Your Processes
Chapter 4 - Key #3: Work Together for Maximum Gain
Chapter 5 - Key #4: Base Decisions on Data and Facts
Chapter 6 - Beyond the Basics: The Five Laws of Lean Six Sigma
Part 2 - Implementing Lean Six Sigma
Chapter 7 - When Companies Start Using Lean Six Sigma
Chapter 8 - Making Improvements That Last: An Illustrated Guide to DMAIC and the Lean Six Sigma Toolkit
Chapter 9 - The Experience of Making Improvements: What It’s Like to Work on Lean Six Sigma Projects
Chapter 10 - Six Things Managers Must Do: How to Support Lean Six Sigma
List of Figures
List of Tables
List of Sidebars

Lean Six Sigma combines the two most important improvement trends of our time: making work better (using Six Sigma) and making work faster (using Lean principles). In this plain-English guide, you’ll discover how this remarkable quality improvement method can give you the tools to identify and eliminate waste and quality problems in your own work area.

Packed with diagrams, cartoons, and real-life examples, What is Lean Six Sigma? reveals the “four keys” of Lean Six Sigma and how they apply to your own job:

  • Delight your customers with speed and quality
  • Improve your processes
  • Work together for maximum gain
  • Base decisions on data and facts

You’ll see the big picture of what your company hopes to gain with Lean Six Sigma, how it may affect your work area, and what it can mean to you personally.

About the Authors

Mike George is the founder and CEO of George Group, the largest Lean Six Sigma consulting practice in the United States. He is the author of Lean Six Sigma and Lean Six Sigma for Service.

Dave Rowlands is Vice President for Quality, Xerox Corporation


Bill Kastle is a Vice President at George Group, and has helped guide Lean Six Sigma initiatives at major corporations.

What is Lean SixSigma?

Mike George
Dave Rowlands
Bill Kastle


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Copyright © 2004 by George Group. All rights reserved. Printed in the United States of America. Except as permitted under the United States Copyright Act of 1976, no part of this publication may be reproduced or distributed in any form or by any means, or stored in a database or retrieval system, without the prior written permission of the publisher.

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ISBN 0-07-142668-X

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This book is printed on recycled, acid-free paper containing a minimum of 50% recycled de-inked fiber.


Thanks to the following people for providing support and input in developing this book: Jim Buckman, University of Minnesota; Dick Cunningham, Johns Manville; Mike Gabler, Solar Turbines; Linda Garner, The Plaquesmith; Todd Graham, Johns Manville; Gloria Grohs, Director of Nursing (ret.); Roger Hirt, City of Fort Wayne; George Maszle, Xerox Corporation; Ashish Merchant, Western Union; Dina Mongelli, Xerox Corporation; Heather Presley, City of Fort Wayne; Tim Schwalm, Eastman Kodak; Lynn Sherman, Delafoil Inc.; Barry Shook, Xerox Corporation; Tom Vandini, Delafoil Inc. Thanks also to Sue Reynard, our editor and layout staff all-in-one, and Tonya Schilling and Lynn Rae Kastle, our proofreaders.

A Note to Our Readers

People who have been in business for some time will probably recognize Six Sigma as one of the most widely used quality improvement methods available today. Those in manufacturing may have heard about Lean, a discipline that focuses on process speed and efficiency. To many others, “Lean” may sound like a dieting technique, and “Six Sigma” will simply be a number and a Greek word, with no particular meaning.

Either way, you’re probably reading this book because your company is starting a Lean Six Sigma initiative. This book provides answers to some of your most important questions: What is Lean Six Sigma? Why is my company using it? What can it do for me?

First things first. What is Lean Six Sigma? Some people call it an improvement method because it uses data to identify and eliminate process problems. Others call it an improvement engine because it establishes a whole new set of roles and procedures inside an organization that work to continuously generate results. As you’ll see when you read this book, both are right. Lean Six Sigma lives within a broader framework of meeting a company’s goals and customer needs.

What you’ll find in What is Lean Six Sigma?

The purpose of this book is to introduce you to Lean Six Sigma. It focuses on key themes, and is not intended as a reference manual. It shows how Lean Six Sigma helps companies flourish in a new world where customers expect high quality and fast delivery at minimal cost.

The first six chapters of this book walk through the foundations of Lean Six Sigma. The chapters emphasize the basic vocabulary and concepts you’ll likely start hearing in your own company.

The last chapters look at applications of Lean Six Sigma. We provide evidence showing why so many companies are turning to Lean Six Sigma, and present case studies from teams of people just like you who have used the concepts and methods to improve their workplace.