Origin of Lean 


Lean was conceptualized by Toyota Motors way back in 50’s.  Taichi Ohno, a production head, who travelled to the US and studied the motor car manufacturing plants like Ford and GM, found an opportunity to cut wastages in the manufacturing systems that would help Toyota to produce motor cars which are competitive in US. Later Lean also came to be known as TPS- Toyota Production System and JIT – Just in time manufacturing. Basically, Lean is centred on preserving value with less work. The word LEAN was coined by Prof. James Womack at MIT, US in the early 90’s as the original Japanese word was not known.


Six Sigma


Six Sigma is a defect elimination movement started by Motorola in 1985. It was started by the then CEO Bob Galvin when he wanted to achieve zero defects in their semi-conductor manufacturing. This thought came to him when he was meeting his people to figure out why Motorola was losing market in the 80’s.

One of their supervisors Art Sundry stood up in the meeting and told Galvin that “Motorola quality stinks”. This had made Galvin to look for a companywide quality improvement movement involving people to measure and improve their product quality till 99.99967% of the time defect free products are delivered to their customers.




DMAIC is an acronym for Define – Measure – Analyze – Improve – Control. It is the methodology for systematic problem solving applying Six Sigma tools and techniques. The D-phase defines the customer concerns, M-phase establishes the current process capability, A-phase analyzes the root causes, I-phase finds solutions for the root causes and C-phase establishes controls for institutionalization of the new process. DMAIC was developed by Motorola and is a publicly available methodology with no intellectual property rights.


VOC (Voice of Customer)


VOC is an acronym for VOICE OF CUSTOMER in Six Sigma language. It refers to the verbatim statement of the customer that needs to be captured during the interview. Six Sigma believes that understanding customer needs before commencing any improvement initiative is important as the whole Six Sigma focuses on meeting and exceeding the customer requirements.




CTQ is an acronym for Critical to Quality which specifies the characteristics or attributes of a product or a service that bears its ability to satisfy or dissatisfy the customer. It is also known as CTC – Critical to Customer. The finish of a motor car or time taken to access an ATM may be an example of CTQ.




 It is the acronym for Recognize-Define-Measure-Analyze-Improve-Control which is an improved version of DMAIC, originally proposed by Motorola for structuring the six sigma approach methodology. The R-phase is added by SSA for recognizing the business issues and identifying meaty problems to be solved that have strategic importance. RDMAIC® is one of the thought leadership of SSA which has a copyright. In R-phase a set of tools are used to identify the strategic issues and drill down to problems which can be solved by six sigma approach. This phase involves the top and senior management in the initiatives.




 Champion is one of the roles in six sigma deployment for senior managers who are expected to nurture the project teams by providing strategic directions and resources. It is often misunderstood as they are experts in six sigma tools and techniques. Champions are essentially coaches for project teams and not guides for applying statistical tools.


 Process Owner


The Process owner in a six sigma project is the person who owns the process and experiences the problems relating to the process. His involvement in the six sigma project is essential and in the absence of which the new process will never get implemented and maintained. Thus training the process owner in RDMAIC and involving him/her in the project reviews is very important for the successful completion of the project.




In acquiring six sigma skills there are several levels defined as per the knowledge and skills for problem solving; one of them is Greenbelt. As six sigma practitioners fight with defects, the karate (belt) titles are awarded depending on their level of knowledge and skills. A Greenbelt learns all RDMAIC methodology and statistical tools to apply them for solving chronic problems to achieve a breakthrough results.