Lean TQLSystems vs. Six Sigma Way – The Results Make All the Difference

Lean TQLSystems – By: Dr. Aecio D’Silva, CEO, Moura Technologies and Dr. John Kyndt (Head Scientist of the Renewable Energy Program at MT – Advanced Energy Independence Lab).

 In our training courses, lectures and consulting of continuous improvement and innovation programs someone upfront always asks the following question:

What is the difference between our Lean TQLSystems Way (Lean Total Quality Leadership System), Lean Management (Toyota Way) and Six Sigma Management (GE Way)?

Lean TQLSystems – The Results Make All the Difference

Lean TQLSystems - The Results Make All the Difference

Lean TQLSystems – The Results Make All the Difference

In fact, if your company, organization or business is considering or reviewing the options for implementing a program of Continuous Improvement and Innovation the first question that may arise is which technology to use.

Your business can be in agribusiness, mining, pharmaceuticals, energy, health care, cosmetics, transport or research and development, and can consist of a factory, office, laboratory, hospital, airport, schools, universities, shopping mall or any other activity of products, services or technology, one of the first decisions you will have to make is which program / system that will choose how to continuously innovate your business.

First of all, you should know that differences between Lean TQLSystems and Lean Management are very few or almost none.

They are basically just different implementation methodologies, with a strong focus on attitude and great fidelity to the innovation teachings of Dr. E. Deming.

However there are basic and fundamental differences between Lean TQLSystems and Six Sigma management

Today with the global success of Lean Production Management (Lean Management) led by Toyota and Boeing and the Six Sigma administration by command-control promoted by GE, it is important to understand the structural differences between these two business approaches.

Lean TQLSystems vs. Six Sigma Way – Defining What is What

To understand this better, let’s begin with some simplified definitions, starting with Six Sigma. Six Sigma is many other things beyond high stress and command-and-control from top to down. It is strictly a statistical program (establishing the maximum of 3.4 defects per million parts produced).

It is also a set of tools (GR & R, Stats descriptive, regression, DOE, etc.), a system for identifying and solving problems in the processes (e.g., DMAIC, PIDOV, DMADV), but is also a command-control management philosophy and highly stressful.

Lean TQLSystems or Lean Production, on the other hand, is all the things mentioned above for Six Sigma, except the stress and statistics. Lean TQLSystems and Lean also use a set of tools (PDSA, eKanban, ERP, Poke-Yoke, Andon, VSM, Standardization, Intense Visual Factory, etc…), but applies these with a much more personal focus.

Lean TQLSystems is a process that usually begins with personal changing of attitude, using 5s (sort, set, sweep, standardize and sustain) and PDSA (plan, do, study and act) to solve problems (which we call challenges) at all levels.

Lean TQLSystems use the vision or systemic approach of Total Quality introduced by Dr. E. Deming (PDSA, SPK) and Kaizen (change incrementally and continuously for the better).

Lean TQLSystems is an essential philosophy or management involving all, from the CEO to the janitorial staff, with a focus on a business participative leadership where clients/customers always come first, where workers have the right attitude and practice, and where, continuous improvement, transformation and innovation are relentlessly and decisively stimulated.

The best definition of Lean TQLSystems is to put the client / customer first in everything, having the right attitude and do the right thing right, at the lowest cost, at the first time, with zero waste, maximum results and efficiency, passionate with total quality, always changing, transforming and innovating.

Lean TQLSystems vs. Six Sigma Way – Difference in Results

Both approaches can be applied successfully. However, the results obtained in terms of always putting the customer  first, have the right attitude, eliminating waste, and engagement / involvement of employees (we call ACI – Agent of Changes and Innovation) in achieving the vision, mission, values and strategic objectives ( short, medium and long term) of the company differ from one another completely.

There are also obvious differences between the tools used in each method, although the processes implemented have some similarities to each other. For example, Kaizen can be mapped through the steps of DMAIC or vice versa.

So what is the difference between Lean TQLSystems and Six Sigma? The biggest differences can be found when Lean TQLSystems or Six Sigma is applied predominantly as the only way to manage the business, company and / or enterprise.

Both include training as an essential component, but there is a profound difference between the approaches used and the stress generated in the system.

Although both Lean TQLSystems and Six Sigma set as a basic requirement to have professionals being trained to be successful, Lean TQLSystems adds two additional values in training which are not in Six Sigma.

Two central concepts of a Lean TQLSystems culture are to have 1) ACIs trained to have the correct attitude and 2) a focus on multitasking which enable all workers to operate in virtually all functions within the company. The ACIs are cross-trained in the processes of daily work, not just specifically in Lean TQLSystems tools.

These are important distinctions in implementing Lean TQLSystems programs. A workforce trained in the correct multifunctional attitude, is essential in reducing stress at the workplace, as well as, doing job rotations, which maintain a high level of enthusiasm of ACIs and at the same time cuts the root of the natural tediousness, fatigue, bad mood, work related diseases and natural boredom that inevitably comes to one who does the same thing every day.

Lean TQLSystems vs. Six Sigma Way – Time and Performance Measurements

Another significant difference becomes evident in the use of measurements of time and performance. Both Lean TQLSystems and Six Sigma emphasize performance measurements, but the approaches are diametrically opposed.

Six Sigma aims to measure the process performance in direct relation to the problem being worked on as the most important measures of business success through dashboards. It is therefore very project level oriented.

These dashboards are generated by pushy command-and-control or top-down style and the process rarely involves or reaches factories production areas or shop floor. Thus, workers do not really know how and why they are doing their jobs.

Lean TQLSystems, on the other hand, focuses on the measurement on the shop floor and places leaders and ACIs in the production areas or what the Japanese call Gemba, we call Batente – the real work place – to help, train and see for themselves how things are going.

This boosts performance measurements from bottom to top, starting with the work cell and proceeding to the plant and the top level. This is obtained by the mandatory practice of the concept of visual factory or signaling of all that is happening in the workplace or Batente.

The idea is that the effectiveness of Visual factory should be so perfect that a person with one eye covered could go fast on a bicycle through the plant and in the end will be able to tell what is happening in the production hall. Everything has to be seen and be obvious to all.

These different approaches illustrate the main difference between the philosophies Lean TQLSystems and Six Sigma. Six Sigma is a philosophy of command from top to bottom that only occasionally involves the production areas whose main practitioners are mid-level managers and engineers, while Lean TQLS is a bottom-to-top management system that integrates all employment levels

Lean TQLSystems Way – Leader Must Be a Server

The Six Sigma improvement projects are chosen for performance analysis at a high level and imposing changes down the throats of the workers, almost no involvement of those who actually do the work.

Lean TQLSystems, on the other hand, is characterized by the idea that the leader should be to serve, assist and train the ACIs, because he is naturally one of them. Everything is based on the correct attitude and participative leadership where everything is done and moved with customers first in everything and with leaders whose main function is to do everything to enhance the success of ACIs (workers).

Leaders of Lean TQLSystems go to the areas of production, processing or Batente where the work actually happens to see what’s going on, helping, applying continuous improvements and training all ACIs to succeed on their tasks.

Unlike Six Sigma, the vast majority of training in Lean TQLSystems companies are made in the work environment or learning-doing and helping everyone succeeds in their functions. The successful of one is the success of all, and vice versa.

For this to be achieved continuously, leaders and all the ACIs have to have the right attitude, value and implement communication skills, continuous training and promote learning at all times and occasions possible.

Another fundamental difference between Lean TQLSystems and Six Sigma is the focus given to internal competition between workers. Unlike Six Sigma, Lean TQLSystems aims to eliminate internal competition and encourage the maximum cooperation and group achievement.

Who has implemented Six Sigma or worked in the GE Jack Welch time knows how this management encourages fierce internal or domestic competition between workers and the resulting high stress caused to all employees, their morale and damaging teamwork.

It’s like snake swallowing snake where the famous laws of the jungle reigns. That is, the means do not matter; the important thing is to arrive first. Success may be attained, but the damage it does to the spirit of the workers and team, as a whole, is devastating.

On the other hand, Lean TQLSystems continuous improvement initiatives and innovations start from the bottom up primarily at the individual ACI and his attitude or his/her relentless desire and determination as a member of a work cell, to change, transform and innovate his/her own work .

Moreover, there is another striking difference between Lean TQLSystems and Six Sigma at the leadership level.

Lean TQLSystems Way – Bond of Mutual Trust between ACIs and Leaders

With Lean TQLSystems Leadership being extremely focused on attitude and communication, this creates conditions that allow ACIs always to have an excellent and improved performance, with a bond of mutual trust or as a sacred contract that is built between ACIs and leaders.

This contract implicit implies that the continuous improvements suggested, tested, implemented and adopted by Lean TQLSystems, it will not result in dismissal and loss of jobs.

It is like a kind of moral super glue that creates strong and lasting bonds of trust, mutual respect and dignity for all. Everyone knows that thanks to this sacred bond when fewer ACIs are required in a work cell, they are not given the pink slip, but relocated to other areas of the company.

Six Sigma, by other hand … Well, leave it for someone who has already implemented this management system in his/her company to talk about the experience….. as they became unemployed … and henceforth …

Lean TQLSystems Way – Are You Thinking of Implementing a Continuous Improvement Program?

Of course there are many more differences between management Lean TQLSystems and Six Sigma, but the above are basic core differences and we hope that can help you in making the initial decision about which system to use in your program / project of Continuous Improvement and Innovation.

If you are thinking about or interested in to implement in your business in a program of continuous improvement and innovation, reducing waste, have a lean production or attaining the most with the least, click here and send us a message in the comments at the end of article with your coordinates and we will contact you.

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