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Characteristics of a Lean-Six Sigma Organizational Culture

When organizations concentrate on specific departments or organizational silos, they become focused on more narrowly defined metrics. It becomes very difficult in this culture to think about overall business processes or the "big picture." This is especially true when one department may be negatively impacted by the actions of another. Organizations implementing Lean and Six Sigma must realize a process-focused culture. Business process maps must span across departments, and decisions must become data driven. Lean thinking is characterized by the organizational attributes of an unrelenting focus on the customer, a philosophy of continuous improvement, respect for people, and a long term view. Six Sigma is for short term, "quick win" improvements and is much more than just a set of improvement tools; the problem-solving mindset it creates leads to an organizationial culture with the following characteristics:
  1. Customer centric focus: The voice of the customer drives every action in the organization.
  2. Attentiveness to financial results: Every improvement project is prioritized by its impact on the organization's financial bottom line.
  3. Increased involvement and engagement: The CEO, senior managers, and all levels of the organizations are visibly involved with each improvement.
  4. Increased discipline and focus: The framework and defined roles provide structure for rolling out, mentoring, and sustaining improvement efforts.

The combination of Lean and Six Sigma methods is extremely powerful and the number of companies reporting value in using Lean and Six Sigma is lengthy, including some of the examples in the graphic.