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History of Lean Six Sigma

Lean and Six Sigma derived from a similar point in history. Walter A Shewart developed Statistical Process Control which was a foundation for both Lean and Six Sigma. Dr W Edwards Deming introduced another main foundation of Lean which was Total Quality Control, and this was implemented in Japan and the United States.

 

Lean Six Sigma originates from the United States and Japan post-1945. Today, Japan is considered an efficient manufacturer of high-quality electrical goods. This has not always been the case, as after World War Two Japanese products were renowned for their poor quality, thus the need for Total Quality Control. However, this was not to last as Japan experienced a post-war economic boom which eventually caused them to produce better quality products than the United States. Much of this achievement has been attributed to Joseph Juran, an American business specialist who was hired by Japan to strengthen the quality of their products, which in turn boosted the Japanese economy. Six Sigma projects are what Joseph Juran used to achieve higher quality products, as he adopted a plan, conduct, test, then solve framework.

 

The development of Lean Six Sigma was essentially achieved through a battle for the best high-quality goods. In the 1980s Motorola was one of the first companies in the United States to apply a methodology to business process development. By 1986 the methodology adopted by Motorola resembled what became Six Sigma. The constant aim of Six Sigma was business process improvement, with high quality at the forefront of the program. Into the 1990s many big companies such as Allied Signal, Honeywell, and Ford adopted the same Six Sigma methodology as Motorola.

 

During the 2000s, Lean Six Sigma started to become separate from Six Sigma. The term Lean Six Sigma was first coined in 2001 in a book written by Barbara Wheat, Chuck Mills, and Mike Carnell. Following this, Lean Six Sigma became applicable to more and more industries.