Can anyone tell me if there is a difference between Kaizen and Six Sigma? I know Kaizen is a Japanese efficiency production tool. Are they basically the same thing?
Lean (basically) is the pursuit of waste elimination while Six Sigma pursues perfection in a process .
Lean focuses on eliminating waste (Non value added steps)
Six Sigma focuses on improving quality (Value Added seps)
I would offer, YES and NO.
Difference, YES. Typically I have seen kaizen events last about 5-7 weeks (a few weeks of prep leading up to a one-week event followed by a one or two week follow-up period). Where Six Sigma projects can last 3-4 months, maybe even 6-8 if it is really complex.
Difference, NO. You can easily use the DMAIC process to execute a kaizen event if you like. We have done that a number of times and it worked well.
Either way you are using a closed-loop process (DMAIC or PDCA) to evolve a process and improve the “way of doing business”, regardless if you are working to minimize variation or eleminate waste.
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