Lean is a systematic, continuous improvement approach that focuses activities on reducing waste while aligning them to allow goods or services to flow smoothly and efficiently through an organization, improving quality and accountability. Lean is derived from the Toyota Production System (TPS), focusing on visual management and flow.
Waste is anything that consumes resources and drives up costs but adds no value to the customers you serve.
Leaders of Lean organizations are dedicated to developing Lean thinkers and a culture of continuous improvement in which employees work to make their own jobs as efficient as possible.
Lean is an umbrella term that contains a wide range of specialized tools focusing on visual controls and workplace organization.
Six Sigma is a highly disciplined approach to decision-making that revolves around collecting data to understand the factors that cause variations in processes.
The term "Six Sigma" refers to the number of defects produced by a process (a defect being any undesirable result) given a number of opportunities in the process to produce a defect. Although Six Sigma is a general term for the process exploring control of statistical variability in processes, actual Six Sigma quality levels refer to the exceptionally high-quality level of producing only 3.4 defects per million opportunities. Six Sigma practitioners focus on systematically eliminating variation in processes, so they can get as close to zero defects as possible.
Often, Lean tools can be applied quickly and easily to increase efficiency when a problem is obvious. Six Sigma is better suited to analyze deeper or more complex problems that may not be apparent on the day-to-day surface, such as problems that involve complex networks or systems where many factors contribute to a problem.
5S is a workplace organization tool that establishes a system to organize, standardize, and maintain an environment. The term "5S" stands for a series of five progressive methods for organizing a space: Sort, Straighten, Shine, Standardize, and Sustain (5S is sometimes known as 6S or 5S+1 because these improvements also improve Safety).
With its emphasis on waste reduction as a means to achieve higher productivity and cost-effective operation, Lean tools are naturally adapted to support environmental sustainability efforts.
Lean applications in the field of sustainability promote environmentally conscious economic growth and do so without significantly altering the Lean toolset. OULI's specific applications in the sustainability field focus on applying the Lean value stream mapping tool to map environmental waste such as energy waste, water waste, garbage and excess transportation.
Lean can be applied broadly to all aspects of environemntal impact in operation, from energy use to reduced toxicity, tying these improvements to measurable dollar savings. In the field of sustainability, Lean especially shines in material reduction, reducing waste products by developing more efficient operations.