Skip to content
Models for continuous improvement

Models for continuous improvement Part I

There are a lot of confusion and misinformation today about the different improvement models existing in the market. We are referring to TQM, LEAN, and Six Sigma. However, all of them have the same objective: increase customer satisfaction by improving and making work processes more robust through process analysis and elimination of anything unnecessary, in other words, waste. To make it more exciting for the reader, we are dividing this blog into 3 main entries.
The part I you are reading today will provide you an overview of the three of them and it will focus on TQM, the second one will talk about the continuous improvement model LEAN, and the final will talk about Six Sigma and will provide a summary of the main differences between all of them.

Comparative study between TQM, LEAN and Six Sigma continuous improvement models

Even we have seen that these models pursue the same objectives and goals, the reality is that each of them has a slight difference from each other, including a different approach and focus.

TQM or Total Quality Management model

TQM was intended to create quality awareness in all organizational processes and focuses on increasing customer satisfaction.

LEAN model

The Lean Manufacturing management model is part of the Continuous Improvement culture and proposes a set of tools that help in the identification and elimination of all types of waste with the purpose of improving performance, in costs and delivery.

Six Sigma

Six Sigma is an evolution of statistical process controls (SPC) including the fundamental concepts of TQM and incorporates the basic elements of Deming’s PDCA cycle for problem solving.

Continuous Improvement Models

TQM or Total Quality Management

Essentially, the TQM methodology addssignificant value to the developed activities, reducing the costs of poor quality: everything that implies operational losses, materials, potential customers, etc… But what it really does is to improve internal processes to achieve “zero defects” the first time.
As the customer (both internal and external) is the main judge of quality, the entire value chain must know and understand their needs to satisfy them.

TQM origins

Total Quality Management, known as TQM, began to be developed in the 1950s and 1960s in Japanese industries. The driving forces, however, were Joseph Duran and, above all, Edwards Deming, an expert in the field of quality control).

TQM meaning

Total is used because it involves “Everyone”, from suppliers to the final customer (the organization of the company considered as a whole, including the people working in it).

Total Quality Management is defined as a management strategy aimed at making the company aware of Quality.

By using the concept of Total Quality, the intention is to make each area of the company participate in this responsibility and not just a specific department. Quality thus understood encompasses all processes and systems.

“Philosophy, culture, strategy or management style of a company according to which all the people in the company study, practice, participate and promote the continuous improvement of quality”. Kaoru Ishikawa

Six Sigma and the statistical process control of your data

We can consider Six Sigma as an evolution of statistical process controls (SPC) including the fundamental concepts of TQM. It also incorporates the basic elements of Deming’s PDCA cycle for problem solving.

Six Sigma origins

Developed by Motorola in the late 1980s. What was its purpose? The need to match or surpass its Japanese competitors. Bill Smith, the engineer responsible for its creation, developed this methodology as a business and quality improvement strategy and it was later improved and popularized by General Electric.

Six Sigma approach

The Six Sigma approach is based on the reduction of variability, it helps Lean to achieve more stable and reliable processes, through the study and optimization of process variables, managing to reduce or eliminate defects or failures in a process. Its principles include the support of statistical tools and data management that facilitate the identification of areas of opportunity for improvement. Its application requires that those who are going to lead its implementation, acquire a previous training (Green Belt, Black Belt).

Six Sigma objectives

The objective to pursue is achieving a Six Sigma level in our processes for all those characteristics considered as high value for the customer CTQ (Critical to Quality):

  • Identify the critical characteristics of current products and processes.
  • Achieve maximum customer satisfaction.
  • Reduce the costs of achieving quality.

Six Sigma implementation key points

This is the philosophy that has to be taken into account for the implementation of Six Sigma projects:

  • Ensure management commitment.
  • Training of top management, including the CEO. Identification of key processes and selection of “Champions” (responsible for these processes).
  • Define and implement a 6-sigma organization (defining roles and responsibilities) to guarantee the project’s sustainability.
  • Selection of the key improvement areas and the 6-sigma projects (at process level) associated with them.
  • Training of experts, Master Black Belts and fundamentally Black Belts, in strategy, project management, statistics, quality, etc… Their dedication to the 6s project is almost absolute
  • Support to the Black Belts in the training and certification of the Green Belts (people who will work on the 6-sigma projects as part of their daily activities).
  • Execution of projects in a natural way (fundamental to choose those that improve customer satisfaction and reduce operational costs).
  • Celebration of successes and communication plan

Six Sigma DMAIC method

DMAIC is the PDCA-based Method for Six Sigma:

  • D: Define. What to improve and Who
  • M: Measure. Current level and Why
  • A: Analyze. Analyze current performance
  • I: Improve. Improve performance
  • C: Control. Maintain improvement and standardize

Lean Six Sigma has its antecedents in the model mentioned above, they share objectives. Both propose to improve the management and processes of a company. However, Lean focuses more on the speed of processes and management itself, while Six Sigma focuses on increasing quality and reducing variability in critical processes.

DMAIC Method

Request a demo

Every business has a different methodology but all of them need one. Request a demo and we can guide you what suits you better.

Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate

Play Video