Lean Six Sigma and the DMAIC Process

Hello Business Owner and Managers,

My name is Rick and I would like to give you a little background about myself and my passion for Lean Six Sigma (LSS).

I was a successful Regional Manager for two Fortune 500 Companies for a combined 32 years. One of the two Fortune 500 Companies was the Xerox Corporation. In the year 2003, they entered the world of Lean Six Sigma, and they were looking for senior managers, to volunteer for the initial training program.

As you can see were this is going, I volunteered, and it was the best decision I could have made. I was selected, trained, and became a certified Lean Six Sigma Black Belt.

For those of you that are not familiar with the title Certified Black Belt, this has nothing to do with Karate.

My first assignment as a LSS Black Belt was to introduce and promote this new concept to several Xerox Divisions. It was critical that we got buy-in for a successful launch. This was accomplished by getting managers and employees to engage and participate in LSS Workshops. These workshops were created to identify and prioritize areas for performance improvement.  In short, essential and motivating projects were developed which had a positive effect on the Corporate Financial Bottom-line.

Ten years later, in total, I had implemented and coached over 100 process improvement projects, personally certified over 40 Green Belts and made a positive impact of over $53M to the corporate financials.

Types of potential projects

Projects come in all different shapes and sizes, here are a few examples:

  • Improve forecast accuracy for sales or budgets
  • Reduce the time to generate recurring reports
  • Reduce inventory levels while avoiding delivery risks
  • Reduction of Days Sales Outstanding
  • Reduce payroll process cycle time
  • Reduce the time to process an insurance claim
  • Reduce absenteeism
  • Improve customer and employee satisfaction
  • Improve on-time delivery of products to customers
  • Reduce transportation costs
  • Reduce the risk of errors and defects in new products and services
  • Reduce phone handling times
  • Reduce response times
  • Reduce number of times customer are put on hold
  • Reduce time to respond to issues
  • Reducing cycle times
  • Reducing customer complaints
  • Improving equipment reliability
  • Improving worker safety
  • Improving production efficiency
  • Reducing the amount of waste in the production process
  • Reducing scrap and rework
  • Improving the quality

I can go on and on, but I thing you get the idea.  Lean Six Sigma can apply to any improvement opportunity in any business sector, even in Health Care.

After leaving Xerox, Lean Six Sigma was and is in such high demand, I was consulting several other companies and business for continuous improvement initiatives.

This is why I’m so passionate about Lean Six Sigma!

Working Through the Lean Six Sigma Process is extremely rewarding


Even though I make myself available for consulting opportunities, I have created, along with my Statistical Genius Partner, a Lean Six Sigma Training Journal to assist other businesses and organizations to succeed and stay ahead of their competition, as I did with XEROX.

I guess now is the time to briefly explain, if you don’t already know?

What is “Lean and Six Sigma”

Lean Six Sigma is a combination of two successful Process Improvement methods.

These two time-tested approaches guide the way for operational excellence providing businesses and organizations with a clear path to achieving their missions as fast and efficiently as possible by eliminating resource waste, process variation and defects.

As previously mentioned, it’s important to know that Lean Six Sigma combines Lean Philosophy with Six Sigma Methodology and Tools.


Following is a brief summary of Lean Thinking.

Lean is a way of thinking about creating customer value with fewer resources and less waste to drive continuous improvement and to achieve perfect value with zero waste.

Lean is process improvement toolkit designed to eliminate process waste of physical resources, time, effort, and talent while assuring customer value. Resources that do not create value for the end customer is considered a waste and should be eliminated.

The 5 Principles of Lean

  1. Value is determined by what the customer considers to be important within a product or service.
  2. Value Stream is a set of business activities and steps in creating and delivering products and services to the customer.
  3. Flow is an uninterrupted flow of activities that add value to the customer, rather than waste and inefficiency that impedes the flow through the value stream.
  4. Pull is the processing of products and services for which there is a customer demand, rather than hoping someone wants it.
  5. Perfection is continuing to assess the value stream to continuously identify and improve customer value.


Six Sigma focuses on identifying and eliminating anything that caused variation in the process. When process variation is gone, process results can be precisely predicted. A system that’s predictable will eliminate process errors and result in acceptable performance from a customer perspective.

Six Sigma improvement is when key outcomes of a work process are dramatically improved, often by 70% or more.

The fundamental objective of the Six Sigma methodology is the implementation of a measurement-based strategy that focuses on process improvement and variation reduction through the application of Six Sigma improvement projects.

Six Sigma uses various techniques and statistical tools designed to make business processes more efficient and effective by eliminating not only both Errors and Defects in your products and processes, but also the cause of these errors.

Statistically, Six Sigma is a concept that only produces a goal of 3.4 defects per million opportunities (DPMO) where processes not only encounter less defects, but do so consistently (low variability). Six Sigma creates an environment of continuous process improvement, enabling businesses to provide better products and services to customers.

The DMAIC Process

DMAIC is an acronym for Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, and Control, and an integral part of the Six Sigma Quality Initiative. DMAIC is a structure problem-solving technique that is used and associated with any business or process improvement effort, which follows the 5 Principles/Phases of Lean Six Sigma.

The 5 Principles of Lean Six Sigma

Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, and Control are the five principles and phases of Lean Six Sigma. They are the steps used to create more efficient processes that focus on continuous improvement.  Like any other process, A process is a series of steps involved in building a product or delivering a service. Almost everything we do is a process—tying our shoes, baking a cake, treating a cancer patient, or manufacturing an automobile.

DMAIC Process Steps

Each step in the cyclical DMAIC Process is required to ensure the best possible results. The advantage of the DMAIC Six Sigma approach is not these critical themselves but the content in each phase. The contents of each phase have a structured approach and primary activities to be completed for solving your problem, before moving on to the next phase.

Following is a brief description for each DMAIC Phase:

Define: Project Charter stating what needs to be improved (Problem Statement, Financial Impact, Goal etc.)

Measure: Data collection and metrics to establish the Current Baseline for improvement reference.

AnalyzeData is analyzed to identify the root causals of the problem.

Improve: Solutions are implemented, and tested against the target goal.

Control: Process Controls are created to Sustain the gains.

As part of the DMAIC Lean Six Sigma Process, there are checkpoints called Toll Gate reviews. The objective of these reviews is to ensure that the project is on track, and that the work and objective of each phase has been successfully completed before moving on to the next DMAIC Phase.

The DMAIC Phase Gate Reviews 

Following Are Just 2 Of Over 100 Projects That I Have Completed

Data Works Project that generated over $900K

A Customer Specific Project

  • An accelerated Lean Six Sigma Kaizen Project for a customer experiencing excessive equipment downtime over the last 6 months customer of 20%. Customer threatening to cancel their current service contract and 2 pending sizeable equipment orders if current performance isn’t immediately improved.
  • As a result of the following solutions, the account was saved, contract renewed, and two additional units were installed.
    • Solution 1: Develop a very Lean account specific Maintenance Process
    • Solution 2: Implemented pre-assembly set-up

Parts Usage and Inventory Expense Control Project reducing cost by $1.96M

  • The Objective of this DMAIC Project was to redesign the current Parts Replacement Process In 6 states (1 entity) that were over Plan Nationally compared to 14 other entities.
  • All essential DMAIC tools were used to implement the following selected solutions:
  • Accountability through a redesigned standardized weekly Inspection Process, Escalation Process, and training for technicians, supervisors, and Managers.
  • Process was controlled and inspected by a senior manager weekly, with follow-up for lack of compliance.

Following Is A Historic Lean Six Sigma Example From A Well Known Corporation

The Ford Motor Company

A Consumer-Driven Lean Six Sigma Automotive Company

The Ford Motor Company is one of the world’s, largest and most successful automakers in the automotive industry, and the first automotive company to implement Lean Six Sigma into their business operations on a large scale.

The Ford Motor Company began using the Six Sigma strategy in the late nineties, with a goal to enhance customer satisfaction with the quality of their products, and become a total consumer focused products company, and not just another automobile manufacturer.

One of Ford’s major issues that had to address was a defect rate of over 20,000 defect opportunities in their car manufacturing process. By implementing LSS Ford achieved their continuous improvement goal by reducing their defect rate to one defect for every 14.8 vehicles, and thereby enhancing customer satisfaction.

Ford’s Consumer-driven Six Sigma has saved them over a billion dollars worldwide by completing almost 10,000 improvement projects since the early 2000s.  In addition, Ford also eliminated (Lean) more than $2.19 billion in waste over the last decade and a half.

The smallest process change can have a significant effect on your business’s bottom-line, establishing a mind-set to change other processes, and drive continuous improvement.

This Is What the Journal of Applied Business Statistics Can Do For You!

In Our Next Article, We Will Provide a Brief Overview of The

DMAIC Define Phase