What the heck is SigmaLeanZenOut? It is what a lot of people are doing in the world of continuous improvement. No matter where you got started, most companies gradually evolve to SigmaLeanZenOut. Six Sigma deployments add Lean, Kaizen, and then Workout (not necessarily in that order). Lean deployments add Kaizen, Workout then Six Sigma. You get the picture. So why is this happening? It is because people are discovering that the combination of all these methodologies opens the door to applying continuous improvement methods to almost any situation. Your starting point (which methodology) will depend on your initial bias but most likely, you will eventually end up incorporating or integrating many methodologies.

So what are companies calling their ‘thing.’ Most likely, it is whatever they started with. Most companies don’t seem to go through the effort of renaming their continuous improvement approach as they add methodologies for fear that it might make the organization feel like whatever they started with was the “flavor of the day” and the organization must now move on to the next thing. Nothing would be more fun for a naysayer than to jump up and shout “See, Six Sigma didn’t work so we now have to do Lean Six Sigma or Six Sigma Plus.” Some companies initially “brand” their approach by calling it “Customer First” or “Process Excellence” and incorporate Six Sigma, Lean, Kaizen and Workout as they deploy.

If you are just starting a deployment (whether it is Lean, Six Sigma, Workout, Kaizen, whatever), think about calling it something that is robust enough to handle the integration of other methodologies. If you feel like you need to use the right ‘name’ to get the industry credibility then incorporate an adder like ‘plus’ to the name. I sort of like naming your continuous improvement approach something that has the word ‘excellence’ in it. Who can argue with wanting to be excellent?

No matter what you name it or how you get started, the important part is that your foundation include the proper integration of your approach(es) with your company strategy, goals and leadership development and that you keep adding to your continuous improvement toolkit. Eventually you too will be doing SigmaLeanZenOut (and it is almost as much fun to say as “Farfegnugen!”)

How has your company integrated the methodologies and what do you call it? Please feel free to post & share.

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