From Six Sigma to Lean Thinking: an evolution of corporate culture

  • Carlos Riesenberger Universidade Minho
Keywords: Competitiveness, Six Sigma, Lean Thinking, Lean Management, Lean Six Sigma.


Competitiveness among companies has forced them to abandon traditional methods of management to adopt new sustainable development strategies. Without sustained growth based on increased efficiency and effectiveness of operations, reduced time, increased quality of products and services, high quality levels and consequent high customer satisfaction, companies are doomed to leave the market for lack of competitiveness. The Six Sigma philosophy, combined with Lean Management, Lean Six Sigma, presents itself as a new management approach, allowing to achieve the long sought-after differentiation in the market.

This article aims to review the literature on the issue of business competitiveness, the driving force behind the search for new forms of management, such as Six Sigma, Lean Management, and the combination of both Len Six Sigma.

To meet our objective, it was defined that a documentary research on the subject would be carried out. Thus, it began with information gathering on the competitiveness of companies, namely the way it has evolved and the main challenges ahead. Then the essential concepts for the understanding of Six Sigma were approached and later the bridge to Lean thought, namely Lean Management.

From this bibliographical research it is quickly realized that this search for new ways of managing dates back to World War II, with the production system developed by Toyota, Toyota Production System, from 1950 to 1960. Six Sigma presented itself as a natural evolution, having appeared in early 1987 at the Motorola company, when she was trying to resolve the variability of its production processes due to the increase in claims regarding failures in the electronics under warranty. Given that Six Sigma focuses more on quality issues, an evolutionary philosophy of waste management, Lean Management, has evolved. Currently these two philosophies are combined obtaining Lean Six Sigma.



Abreu, P.D.C. (2011). Projeto Seis Sigma para melhoria do processo de análise de produtos defeituosos - um caso de estudo na indústria automóvel. Dissertação de Mestrado Ciclo de Estudos Integrados Conducentes ao Grau de Mestre em Engenharia e Gestão Industrial. Universidade do Minho, Escola de Engenharia.

Andrietta, J.M, & Miguel, P.A.C (2007, mai-ago). Aplicação do programa Seis Sigma no Brasil: resultados de um levantamento tipo survey exploratório-descritivo e perspectivas para pesquisas futuras. Gest. Prod., v. 14, n. 2, p. 203-219.

Barsalou, M.A. (2014). Statistics For Six Sigma Black Belts. United States: ASQ. ISBN: 978-0-87389-892-8.

Defeo, J., & Juran, J.M. (2014). Juran’s Quality Essentials: For Leaders. United States: McGraw-Hill. ISBN: 978-0071825917.

Domingues, J.P.D. (2013). Aplicação de Ferramentas Lean e Seis Sigma numa Indústria de Sistemas de Fixação. Dissertação para obtenção do Grau de Mestre em Engenharia e Gestão Industrial. Faculdade de Ciências e Tecnologia. Universidade Nova de Lisboa.

Fantti, M.B.L. (2010). A influência da lógica financeira na evolução do seis sigma. Universidade Federal de São Carlos, Brasil. Programa de pós-graduação em engenharia de produção.

George, M.L., Maxey, J., Rowlands, D., & Price, M. (2005). The Lean Six Sigma Pocket Toolbook: A Quick Reference Guide to 100 Tools for Improving Quality and Speed. United States: McGraw-Hill. ISBN-13: 978-9352603527.
George, M.L., Rowlands, D., & Kastle, B.(2004). What is Lean Six Sigma? United States: McGraw-Hill. ISBN-13: 978-0071426688.

Kubiak, T.M., & Benbow, D.W (2016). The Certified Six Sigma Black Belt Handbook (3rd Edition). United States: ASQ. ISBN: 978-0-87389-941-3.

Leite, D.P.D. (2014). Metodologia Seis Sigma - Implementação e Impacto nas PMEs Portuguesas. Dissertação de Mestrado em Gestão Integrada da Qualidade, Ambiente e Segurança. Escola Superior de Tecnologia e Gestão, IPP.

Liu. L., Xiao, J., Yang, D., & Yuan, W. (2018). Gaussian Capacity Analysis. Cham, Switzerland: Springer International Publishing AG. ISBN: 9783319950396.

Lousas, C.M.S (2018). Desenvolvimento de um sistema de gestão da qualidade e implementação da melhoria contínua. Dissertação apresentada ao Instituto Politécnico de Bragança para obtenção do Grau de Mestre em Gestão das Organizações, Ramo de Gestão de Empresas.

Montez, L.F.D (2011). Seis Sigma – Uma nova cultura empresarial. Dissertação, trabalho de projecto para obtenção do grau de Mestre em Engenharia. Instituto Superior de Engenharia de Lisboa, Departamento de Engenharia Mecânica.

Pande, P.S., Neuman, R.P., & Cavanagh, R. (2001). The Six Sigma Way Team Fieldbook: An Implementation Guide for Process Improvement Teams. United States: McGraw-Hill. ISBN: 978-0-07-143149-1.

Pande, P.S., Neuman, R.P., & Cavanagh, R. (2014). The Six Sigma Way: How to Maximize the Impact of Your Change and Improvement Efforts (2nd Edition). United States: McGraw-Hill. ISBN: 978-0-07-149732-9.

Pinto, S.H.B, Carvalho, M.M., & Hoo, L.L. (2009). Programa Seis Sigma: Aspectos Sinérgicos com Outras Abordagens de Gerenciamento da Qualidade. Revista Produção, Vol. IX/ Num.I, ISSN 1676 – 1901.

Pukelsheim, F. (1994). The Three Sigma Rule. Published by: Taylor & Francis, Ltd. on behalf of the American Statistical Association. Vol. 48, No. 2. DOI: 10.2307/2684253.

Pyzdek, T., & Keller, P.A. (2003). The Six Sigma Handbook: A Complete Guide for Green Belts, Black Belts, and Managers at All Levels (2nd Edition). United States: McGraw-Hill. ISBN: 978-0071410151.