The basic idea of Six Sigma is the development and implementation of improving processes and reducing defects through a series of measurement-based strategies. The two applications most used to do this are the DMAIC and DMADV. DMAIC is an acronym for defining, measuring, analyzing, improving and controlling. This application is used to improve systems and processes that fall below specifications. The DMADV application is also an acronym meaning: defining; measuring; analyzing; designing; and verifying systems in order to improve processes or products that have already gone through the initial Six Sigma quality improvements.
Regardless of where your organization is at, Six Sigma stands to reduce or save companies a substantial amount of money each project, provided that there is a certified Black Belt heading up the projects.
Lean Six Sigma, on the other hand, takes the principles of lean and Six Sigma, and marries the two concepts to produce an even better system—producing speed and quality by improving and streamlining the processes, creating excellent customer service and products. While speed has a negative connotation that working fast creates hastily put-together work, Lean Six Sigma focuses on streamlining the core processes in order to make them flow smoothers and produce on time.
It is important to understand when you are looking at Lean Six Sigma principles that when we’re talking about “speed” it does not equate to the same thing as schedule. More specifically, speed is how quickly something gets done, and schedule is when it is due to be finished. Again, speed is not how hastily a project can be done, but how to streamline the core processes, by breaking down the processes into smaller more efficient cycles, in order to get a project done swiftly, yet producing quality work with little or no defects.
In essence, Six Sigma and Lean Six Sigma are both great improvement process exercises. However, in the describing the differences between the two, it seems that to get to Lean Six Sigma, your organization should incorporate Six Sigma into your process improvement and then engage in Lean Six Sigma to speed up the processes after you have broken down the systems into smaller components.