Improvement Methodology: Selecting The Right 1

Selecting a lean six sigma methodology title

Lean and Six Sigma are two widely used methodologies in organisations for process improvement. These methodologies offer a set of tools and techniques for resolving and solving problems in any organisation. It is critical to understand how to use each of these tools and methodologies in order to use the correct tool or methodology for the job. The right methodology can greatly improve the chances of a successful outcome.

This article will go over the various Lean and Six Sigma project methodologies, such as Plan, Do, Check, Act (PDCA), 8D, A3 or Practical Problem Solving (PPS), Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, and Control (DMAIC), and Design for Six Sigma (DFSS). We will also go over what to think about when choosing a project methodology, as well as provide examples of when each methodology is most appropriate.

Sucess in projects with the correct lean six sigma project methology

The Versatility of Lean and Six Sigma

Lean and Six Sigma are like the superheroes of the business world; they come to the rescue when you’re facing problems in your organization that are slowing you down. But just like superheroes have different powers, Lean and Six Sigma offer various methods to tackle different kinds of problems.

The Toolbox Analogy

Imagine your journey in continuous improvement as a construction project. You wouldn’t use a hammer to screw in a nail, right? Similarly, in the world of Lean and Six Sigma, there are specific ‘tools’ or methods designed for particular types of ‘jobs’ or problems. Just like a toolbox, you have a selection of ‘toolkits’ and approaches you can use.

Factors to Consider

So, how do you know which ‘tool’ to use? It depends on a few things:

  1. The Nature of the Problem: Are you dealing with a quality issue, or is it a problem with efficiency? Different problems require different solutions.
  2. Complexity: Is it a straightforward issue that can be resolved quickly, or is it more intricate, requiring a deeper analysis?

We will explain this a little more further on in the post.

Why It’s Important to Choose Wisely

Imagine trying to fix a leaky pipe with a pair of scissors; it wouldn’t work well, right? In the same way, choosing the wrong Lean Six Sigma method can lead to wasted time, energy, and resources. But if you pick the right one, you’re setting yourself up for success. Your project could be completed more efficiently, saving both time and money.

What improvement project methodologies are there?

There are several key Lean and Six Sigma project methodologies to choose from ranging from a simple project using a Plan, Do, Check, Act (PDCA) to developing a new product or process from scratch using Design for Six Sigma (DFSS) also known as DMADV.

The most common lean six sigma improvement methodologies used to manage projects include:

There are the most common names for different improvement methodologies used by organisations. However, you may find some organisations refer to them with different names as many large multinational organisations often adapt one of these methodologies to suit the needs of their organisation.

Additionally, for in some organisations only one or two of these project methodologies, such as 8D and A3 are very popularly used in automotive organisations to resolve problems.

What to consider when picking a project methodology

Two of the main considerations for picking an improvement project approach are the intensity of the problem and the expected amount of resources required to address the problem.

Selecting a lean six sigma methodology
Selecting a lean six sigma methodology

Improvement projects that are looking to address a small issue potentially repetitive issue that might be localised in one area of the business such that a small team could address it quickly and without needing senior management involvement, Plan, Do, Check, Act (PDCA) would be a suitable methodology.

For improvement projects that require investigation to identify the true root cause of the problem before implementing the improvement either an 8D or A3 problem-solving methodology could be used. Typically 8D‘s are used for addressing customer complaints, whereas A3’s can be used for process problems that need the root causes to be identified before an improvement is implemented.

Then for larger more intense problems that could require the involvement of senior management or stakeholders from multiple departments across the organisation a Define, Measure, Analyse, Improve and Control (DMAIC) methodology could be used to resolve the problem. Where the project requires a new product or process to be developed a Design for Six Sigma (DFSS) methodology would be used.


Finally, Lean and Six Sigma provide a variety of improvement methodologies that can be used to address a variety of issues in an organisation. It is critical to understand how each of these methodologies works in order to select the best one for the project at hand. The appropriate methodology can greatly improve the chances of a successful outcome.

Plan, Do, Check, Act (PDCA), 8D, A3 or Practical Problem Solving (PPS), Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, and Control (DMAIC), and Design for Six Sigma are the most common Lean and Six Sigma project methodologies (DFSS). When selecting a project methodology, it is critical to consider the severity of the problem as well as the resources needed to address it. Organizations can effectively resolve issues and improve processes by selecting the right methodology.


Näslund, D., 2008. Lean, six sigma and lean sigma: fads or real process improvement methods?Business process management journal14(3), pp.269-287.

Agarwal, S., Gallo, J.J., Parashar, A., Agarwal, K.K., Ellis, S.G., Khot, U.N., Spooner, R., Tuzcu, E.M. and Kapadia, S.R., 2016. Impact of lean six sigma process improvement methodology on cardiac catheterization laboratory efficiency. Cardiovascular Revascularization Medicine17(2), pp.95-101.


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Daniel Croft

Daniel Croft is a seasoned continuous improvement manager with a Black Belt in Lean Six Sigma. With over 10 years of real-world application experience across diverse sectors, Daniel has a passion for optimizing processes and fostering a culture of efficiency. He's not just a practitioner but also an avid learner, constantly seeking to expand his knowledge. Outside of his professional life, Daniel has a keen Investing, statistics and knowledge-sharing, which led him to create the website, a platform dedicated to Lean Six Sigma and process improvement insights.

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