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Continuous Improvement vs Lean Six Sigma: What Are the Differences?

If you are a business owner, then you’ve probably heard of Continuous Improvement vs Lean Six Sigma. If you’ve heard of them, then you probably have a vague idea of what they are, but not much beyond that.

Both of these concepts enable businesses to improve their processes and outcomes. The question is, what exactly are these concepts, and how are they the same or different?

Keep reading to discover the answers to these questions and more. You might be surprised to discover that one or more of these concepts could be of great benefit to you and your company!

What Is Continuous Improvement?

Organizations that want to improve quality and performance over time typically adopt a continuous improvement (CI) strategy. CI is an ongoing effort to identify and implement ways to improve:

  • products
  • services
  • processes

Continuous Improvement’s goal is to make small, incremental changes that will result in overall improvements. There are many different approaches to Continuous Improvement, but all share a common focus on ongoing improvement. One popular approach is the Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA) cycle, which can be used to guide continuous improvement efforts. 

What is Lean Six Sigma?

There are many definitions of Lean Six Sigma (LSS), but at its core, LSS is a methodology used to improve process efficiency and quality. LSS seeks to identify and remove waste in processes, and to constrain variability to make process outputs more predictable. Lean Six Sigma provides a powerful framework for improving process quality and efficiency.

Lean Six Sigma focuses on improvement. In addition to the improvement cycles, it provides several additional strategies and tools for a value stream that runs smoothly, such as:

  • Kanban Boards
  • A3 Reports
  • The 5-Whys
  • 5S
  • Stream Mapping

Continuous Improvement Vs Lean Six Sigma Key Differences

There are a few key differences between continuous improvement and Lean Six Sigma. Continuous improvement is more general and can be applied to any process or organization, while Lean Six Sigma is more specific and is usually only used in manufacturing and production settings. 

Continuous improvement is more of a philosophy or mindset, while Lean Six Sigma is more of a specific set of tools and methods. If you are interested in finding support for your team, make it easy for everyone to engage in improvements. Take a white belt course or take any small steps toward your operational excellence.

Know the Best Method for Your Business

If your organization is struggling with efficiency and effectiveness, it may be time to consider a change. Compare and contrast continuous improvement vs lean six sigma to decide which is the best methodology for your business.

Many businesses have found success with lean six sigma, but it is important to know the differences before deciding on a change. After all, all you want is the best for your company to grow. So take every step that encourages business growth.

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