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Lean is an approach to developing a more efficient way of doing things—basically using less to do more. Six-Sigma is a concept of “lean” production that was developed in the 1950s. Since its development, it has gained popularity and helped many companies achieve greater cost-saving efficiency. While different trainings and certifications exist for Six Sigma, and lean practices in general, there are also many free resources for developing a lean and/or six-sigma strategy.
Help on Six Sigma and Lean Strategy
In order to implement any sort of strategy, you must understand what the goals are. For example, the concept of six-sigma indicates that there is a goal of less than one defect in 3.4 million. This would have to be known for six-sigma to be in place. Further, there would have to mechanisms in place to measure defects in order to know how many defects are in 3.4 million. Six-sigma is a big goal for many companies, but even those who do not manufacture 3.4 million items can still utilize many of the concepts of six-sigma. Lean thinking as a general ideology has gained increasing attention and a simple search on the Internet produces over one million hits. Aside from the fact that the concept has gained so much media attention, many larger companies publish their own reports on how they achieved six-sigma (such as the National Health System in the UK- resource below). These types of reports typically have explanations of six-sigma and/or lean practices and describe in detail how that company applied those concepts and the relative success of that application.
Motorola, one of the originators of the concept of six-sigma, offers free lessons on its website (link below). Also, some websites (such as MoreSteam.com, link below) offer dozens of different resources for learning six sigma right on their website, from on-line lessons and presentation to worksheets and simulations.
There are also many free non-profit or governmental mentoring programs, where a business can be paired with an experienced professional (see SBA or SCORE, links below). Some businesses choose to engage the students of a local MBA program to help in the application of lean strategy. This is free to the business and the students, under supervision, can receive valuable real-world training.