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The Five Laws of Lean Six Sigma

written by: Finn Orfano • edited by: Michele McDonough • updated: 4/23/2013

Six Sigma and Lean Manufacturing are completely distinct and independent project management tools. However, they can be combined to work together extremely well through the five laws of Lean Six Sigma.

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    A Path For Quality Improvement

    The Five Laws of Lean Six Sigma have been formulated to provide a path for quality improvement efforts. In addition to this, these laws help in the enhancement of business processes that aim to improve customer satisfaction. These laws have been accumulated by mixing ideas of Six Sigma and Lean Manufacturing.

    The main idea of using these laws is to increase overall speed and enhance customer satisfaction by focusing on improving the flow and speed of work processes. The analysis is done statistically by analyzing various data sets and information. This data are used to foresee the needs of customers. Lean Six Sigma has five laws that are most efficient to reduce waste while maintaining speed. Waste is most often categorized in the following ways:

    • Overproduction: Refers to producing more than what is required. This results in wasted products and labor.
    • Excess Transportation: Refers to transportation costs that add to customers' costs but do not add value to the end product.
    • Excess Inventory: Refers to having more inventory than what is required to finish the project.
    • Excess Processing: Refers to using more labor force than what is needed.
    • Waiting: Refers to idle time.
    • Correction: Refers to wasted time fixing a problem because it was not done correctly the first time.
    • Motion: Refers to wasting time to run errands like picking up parts, etc.
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    Here Are the Laws

    sixsigma First or Zeroth Law: The Law of the Market

    The first law, also known as the zeroth law, acts like the base law and all other laws have been formulated using the principles of this law. This law is the starting point and is rightly indispensable. The law states that “Customer Critical to Quality" defines quality, that is, the main concern for improvement. This is followed by Return on Invested Capital (ROIC) and Net Present Value (NPV).

    Second Law: The Law of Flexibility

    The second law states that the speed of any process is comparative to the flexibility or elasticity of the process. This means that more receptiveness of the process and flexibility to better adapt to changes would be the progress of the project implementation.

    Third Law: The Law of Focus

    The third law states that twenty percent of the activities in a process cause eighty per cent of the delay. This law is related to the Pareto Principle. The statement is interpreted to indicate that the main cause of delay in activities is originated from twenty percent of activities. This allows a faster re-focus during the re-orientation phase.

    Fourth Law: The Law of Velocity

    The fourth law defines the velocity of the process. It states that the process is inversely proportional to the amount of work in progress. This ensures that the work is completed in the fastest possible time and delivered promptly. The Law of Velocity is also commonly known as Little’s Law. The law explains how the inertia of work in progress bears heavily on the speed of project implementation. It is important to know: The higher the number of unfinished tasks, the lower would be the speed of progress due to various ground level handicaps.

    Fifth Law: The Law of Complexity

    The fifth law is defined as the complexity of the service or product offering adds more non-value, costs, and work-in-progress than either poor quality or low sigma or slow speed process problems. Therefore, the higher the complexity of the job, the more you see excess costs and work being incurred.

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    Follow the Laws

    These five laws of Lean Six Sigma need to be observed closely to get the required results. Apart from cost savings in manufacturing, it is also vital to prioritize the customer. Doing so ensures that they continue to cooperate with the organization. Getting away from these rules would reduce the chance of doing either or both of the two.