Manufacturing Breakthrough Blog

Integrating Lean Six Sigma and TOC Part 5

Thursday May 21, 2015

Merging the Best

In my last three posts I’ve laid out the basics of the three components of the TLS improvement methodology, Lean, Six Sigma and the Theory of Constraints. In today’s post we will begin to look at what this combination of all three methodologies might look like.

The Ultimate Improvement Cycle [1]

So what would happen if we were to combine the best of all three improvement initiatives into a single improvement process? What might this amalgamation look like? Logic would tell us that we would have an improvement process that reduces waste and variation, but primarily focusing on the operation that is constraining throughput. That is exactly what we have!

In the figure below we see what I refer to as the Ultimate Improvement Cycle (UIC) combining the power of Lean, Six Sigma and Theory of Constraints improvement cycles to form a more powerful and profitable improvement strategy.

This improvement cycle weaves together the DNA of Lean and Six Sigma with the focusing power of the Theory of Constraints to deliver a powerful and compelling improvement methodology. All of the strategies, principles, tools, techniques and methods contained within all three improvement initiatives are synergistically blended and then time released to yield improvements that far exceed those obtained from doing these three initiatives in isolation from each other.

The Ultimate Improvement Cycle (UIC) is not simply a collection of tools and techniques but rather a viable and practical manufacturing strategy that focuses resources on the area that will generate the highest return on investment. The UIC is all about focusing on and leveraging the operation or policy that is constraining the organization and keeping it from realizing its full potential.

UIC’s Tools and Actions

In the graphic below, I have listed the various tools and actions that I recommend as you follow the step-by-step process outlined in the UIC.  These are not the only tools that can be used or actions that can be taken, but rather the recommended ones that I have used in many different companies.

A Question to Ponder

Why do you believe that so many LSS improvement initiatives have failed and why are many companies abandoning them?

Next Time

In my next post we will continue our discussion of how best to implement the UIC within your company. We will do so by describing each of the alpha-numeric steps outlined in the two figures above. As always, if you have any questions or comments, leave a message and I will respond. 

Until next time.

Bob Sproull



[1]  Sproull, Bob The Ultimate Improvement Cycle – Maximizing Profits Through the Integration of Lean, Six Sigma and the Theory of Constraints, (Boca Raton, FL CRC Press, 2009)


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