There is definitely a place for Six Sigma as part of a lean transformation. The only downside I’ve seen over the years to a “Six Sigma initiative” is that sometimes overzealous advocates squander scarce resources chasing near perfection when it simply isn’t necessary and doesn’t make good business sense. Here’s how I think about a “lean transformation” and the role of lean and Six Sigma tools.
Think of lean tools and Six Sigma tools as two drawers in the same toolbox. Lean tools are focused on the elimination of waste and are relatively easy tools that can be learned and used by anyone in the business. Examples are: 5S, kanban, Pareto Analysis (80/20 rule), quick changeover, fishbone diagram (cause & effect), 5 Whys, visual management.