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Topics: Agile, Organizational Project Management, Scrum
Is Lean Six Sigma something that a Project Manager should be familiar with?

Lean and Six Sigma techniques are coming back due to Agile "revolution". Many techniques that were successfully used in manufacturing are re-discovered and used in project delivery. Techniques like kanban, kaizen, TOC are more and more adopted by Agile project teams. Should the PM knowledge areas be expanded to include Process Improvement?
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Unless you only develop new products, process improvements are a big contributor to new projects that need to be managed. Six sigma is very useful as it can both point out where improvements may be made to offer the best return on investment, and whether or not they actually worked to achieve the objective. While I never took the black-belt exam myself, I had the opportunity to study it in grad school and find it very useful when either there is an unsatisfactory failure rate, or we are seeking efficiency improvements.

Stelian, Yes six sigma by itself is a project so for project manager he or she should not be bound by few tools any tools leads you to success should be adopted if you use lean means you are trying to get rid of most waste and so forth if you use PRINCE2 as frame work to execute your project in a smooth way so why not. Just don't be limited to few you should always use TQM as well.

If the organization is managing high quality projects and wants to reduce waste, then they may adopt Lean SS, so in that context a project manager would want to be familiar with it.

in an organization, quality is everyone's responsibility. IMO it definitely helps for all employees to have a basic understanding of lean concepts.

Yes. Continuous improvement is something that makes execution of your processes better. Project management is in fact executed via processes, whether we talk agile or other methods, so PM should know principles of total quality management, six sigma, value stream mapping etc. to be able to improve its own efficiency.

@Keith, why do you think that process improvement is not important for new products? The (development) process must be in place before you start a new product.
1 reply by Keith Novak
Nov 14, 2018 4:34 PM
Keith Novak
Good point! During development there is often a refinement of whatever the deliverable is before it's delivered. I was thinking more along the lines how often projects are launched as an improvement of something already in place, but I completely agree that 6 Sigma can be applied to get the desired results even on a greenfield project, as an iterative development process.

@Sante, is there an organisation that doesn't want to improve quality and eliminate waste? :)

@Sromon, LSS is much more than quality. SS is a process improvement framework. Lean is not really about quality but about eliminating waste.

@Lenka. I like your Yes full stop. I have the same view, hence the effort to get the (real) LSSBB certification. Especially in Agile delivery LSS become very important. Agile's foundation is continuous improvement and (IMHO) there is no better way of measuring the impact of improvement changes than Six Sigma. The Lean aspect should focus on identifying and eliminating unnecessary activities, artefacts etc but should not impact the core aspect of Agile which is continuous change.

I concur with my colleagues here. Since the objective of six sigma projects are to improve products, services and processes across various disciplines, knowing lean six sigma will definitely help PMs.
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