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on December 30, 2002
We have been on the lean journey for over 4 years, and just started on 6 sigma. I have completed course work for a black belt and need to complete the project. This is just to provide a basic reference for my comments. (Update: 7 years lean & 6 sigma black belt)

The book is good and technically accurate. It is written by a consultancy, with a not totally overt message to hire them. They do not go in to the detailed nuts and bolts of 6 sigma or lean. If that is what you want, look elsewhere. They do discuss both, with more on lean than six sigma. Heavy emphasis on change management and leadership involvement (as it should be).

They have their angle on approach, which seems the case with most consultants (everyone has their flavor), but it is not out of line with the orthodoxy of either discipline.

The best benefit is how they integrate both disciplines. This integration was not an overt display with in the book, and that maybe intentional.
There is a line of thinking that Lean and 6 Sigma are two sides of the same coin, or a ying and yang to continuous improvement. The authors seem to go down this road. They take a project management approach, and in project definition try to decide if this is a 6 sigma or lean project. It wasn't crystal clear what they do if it is blended. My take away is that you blend your approach. This may mean spin-off projects from the main project or a longer total duration as you work through the lean and 6 sigma issues.

It is worth getting and reading. The DFSS (Design for Six Sigma) is better done elsewhere. Lean sigma is relatively new, so expect more books on different approaches. I like the integrated approach, pick the dominant theme and use those tools. Address issues as they come up. Move the ball. I like what one instructor told me about both.... "I can do Lean without 6 sigma, but not 6 sigma without Lean." By that he meant there are tools in Lean that only help clear the clutter for 6 sigma, like 5-s & standard work (work place organization and housekeeping).
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on March 11, 2003
Don't let a luke-warm review of this book distract you from the value of Six Sigma, which I'll presume that you are at least interested in. I'll try and save you some time.
CEO
If you are a CEO, and have not yet been adequately introduced to Six Sigma, I recommend first purchasing "The Power of Six Sigma" (ISBN 0793144345, also available in audio CD). Once complete, consider purchasing this book ("Lean Six Sigma"). Read at least the first three chapters, which focus on contributions to the bottom line. If hooked, continue.
"The Power of Six Sigma" gives an overview, and the first section of Michael George's book illustrates why this is important to you.
Grunt
If your are "in the trenches," follow the above steps, but focus on chapters 10 and 15 of "Lean Six Sigma." Between you and I, the most compelling parts of Michael George's book was the second covering the DMAIC (Define-Measure-Analyze-Improve-Control) process (chap. 10), also available many places on the web, and the very last chapter, where the author talks about how Six Sigma applies in the product development world (chap. 15, which I found fascinating).
Don't get me wrong. I am a big fan of the Six Sigma methodology, but was often times quite frustrated by this book. When I wanted more detail on tools within the Six Sigma framework I found myself completing the Yellow Belt course through Moresteam.com. This book simply does not cover the tools within the DMAIC framework in a level of detail I consider adequate.
Many times I found myself laughing because I am not in fact the CEO of this company. She has already committed to Six Sigma, and we therefore have little choice. After getting into the meat of the methodology, even after early involvement in TQM and other efforts, I am quite impressed with this latest evolution.
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on June 27, 2002
This book aims at calculating shareholder value improvements as a function of quality improvements and process lead time improvements. The basic idea is absolutely right, however, the framework presented in the book is quite shallow, as it seems to target a wider audience, and therefore annoys those in search of truly scientific solutions.
My sceptical rating is based on the following observations:
(1) Mr Georges framework for Shareholder Value-Calculation is grossly simplified and often faulty.
Example: EVA is NOT equal to (ROIC - WACC) as Mr George says, but EVA = Invested Capital * (ROIC - WACC)
Anybody with a real understanding of EVA will rip this book apart
(2) Mr Georges idea, that process time minimization and quality improvements are complementary goals, which one must solve simultaneously, is not new. The Boston Consulting Group did present the same idea in a much better book (STALK 'Competing on time' 1990) about 12 years ago. BCG based their ideas on a system dynamics model (experience curves). Mr George adds six sigma, but fails to capture the analytical insights one can study in 'Competing on Time'.
(3) The book does contain some valuable 'hands-on-lessons', but they get lost in the otherwise wordy,shallow book
(4) This book is written in a colloquial, flowery sales-person style, which annoys the educated reader. It switches from shallow facts to anecdotes, quotations from gurus, and value judgements. The few valuable hands-on-lessons often get lost in a swamp of marketing-speak.
SUMMARY: This is a 'consulting-fad-article-blown-up-into-a-business-book'-Textbook.In comparison with other popular business books it is still acceptable, but hardly deserves the label scientific.
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on May 8, 2002
This book provides the linkage between the two most powerful continuous improvement tools currently available: Lean and Six Sigma. It also provides a clear approach to prioritizing projects to maximize shareholder value. In creating Value Based Six Sigma at ITT, we knew that we needed the Six Sigma infrastructure and quality tools, that was clear. But what really makes a change in factories and other processes are the Lean tools. This book synthesizes the concepts of Value Based project prioritization, Six Sigma quality, and Lean process speed into an integrated and logical structure that applies to any company or process. I recommend the book to the executive who is contemplating launching a continuous improvement process to support their corporate strategy.
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Six Sigma devotees may dispute the need to add anything to Six Sigma, but a shot of lean thinking provides a production boost. Author Michael L. George contends that Six Sigma reduces product quality variation but does nothing to improve delivery time. That may not be strictly true, and certainly is not beyond cavil. Nonetheless, the author's analysis and presentation of the Lean Six Sigma approach is lucid and straightforward. He explains Six Sigma itself much more clearly than some other writers on the subject. Even Six Sigma devotees will find nothing to object to in his treatment, and he provides some compelling examples of the success of the Lean Six Sigma approach. We recommend this book primarily to leaders and managers of firms that rely on factories and other production units. However, the author supplies practical information that may also be relevant to service providers and to every company that cares about customer service, efficient production and the bottom line.
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on May 31, 2007
I have read great books about Lean, classics like The Machine that Changed the World, The Toyota Way, Lean Thinking, etc., but this book fails to reach Lean's basics. The author approaches the subject without letting the reader grasp the Lean approach.

The Six Sigma side of the book idolizes black belts and focuses strictly on ROIC (return of invested capital), which may be short sighted on long term effects.

Lean Six Sigma is a powerful approach and can produce amazing results, but the book does not marry them right.
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When we launched our Six Sigma journey, many of our top managers had heard of mixed results with other initiatives. In fact, the methodology described in this book has allowed us to make such major strides that the results have made all our people become advocates. As a Berkshire Hathaway company, prioritizing projects around ROIC, as espoused in Lean Six Sigma, supports our corporate objectives. The integration of Lean on a foundation of Six Sigma tools described in this book has equipped our Black Belts to successfully attack virtually any business problem. Lean Six Sigma is a book every executive and manager ought to read.
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on September 15, 2003
If you are seeking substance and wish to learn, there are other products that better serve that purpose.
If you are interested in improving operations through Lean/6 sigma and have little or no concept of what is involved, this book may provide an adequate overview. In my opinion, however, the overview would be more effective if the book didn't try to keep putting it's foot in the door
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on May 12, 2010
I have had this book for a while, but have read it for a class that I was taking on Lean Manufacturing.

It is a book about six sigma with a few lean ideas thrown in. For example, George mentions "shareholder value" many times and "customer value" just a few times in the book, indicating more Six Sigma than Lean. George uses the term "Lean Six Sigma" to describe many things in the book. However, most of the ideas are Six Sigma with a few lean terms thrown in. There are some ideas (process velocity, for example) that have been advanced by authors who are neither lean or Six Sigma, and George describes some concepts of lean as "Lean Six Sigma." Some books (Toyota Way, Lean for Dummies) warn against practices of trying to fit some lean ideas into a Six Sigma framework.

Lean companies can use tools from Six Sigma such as statistical techniques or VOC without abandoning Lean. Both Lean authors and Six Sigma authors claim to use a systems approach to manufacturing. And George makes the claim that his version of Lean Six Sigma is such a systems approach. However, George's approach is like allowing French cooking to be a part of life by eating French meals everyday. Lean, if done correctly, is more like going to France and living there--it includes more.

George does not get into many of the details of either Lean or Six Sigma. He describes enough, I think, to convince people that his version of the combination of Lean and Six Sigma is workable, but it appears more like an invitation to hire George's Group to do his version of quality improvement. George has some worthwhile ideas not found in Six Sigma books, such as his supply chain description. I would use other sources as a basis for quality improvement and consult this book for additional ideas only as an afterthought.
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on September 12, 2002
Lean Six Sigma: Combining Six Sigma with Lean Speed
By Michael George
This latest book by Michael George has been an extremely helpful guide and reference for our implementation team members and myself. For seven years we have been in the most critical part of our journey toward a Lean Enterprise. An enterprise where the management system includes the principles of total quality, variation management, value creation, and just-in-time production. I have been recommending Michael George's book to freshman implementers and company executives to help them deal with the perceived dilemma many are experiencing. Do they pursue 'Lean' or do they pursue 'Six Sigma Quality'? And of course the answer is 'yes'. The rush to operational productivity in the last decade has distilled many of the key components and techniques of a 'Lean Enterprise' and marketed them as a complete 'Lean Manufacturing' recipe. Unfortunately this selective design has resulted in diluted capabilities and mediocre results for most. The same is true for those who solely depend on managing by constraints or reducing variation incrementally as their core activity. What Michael George offers in his book is a straightforward and field-tested approach for bringing the critical pieces of the 'Lean/JIT' business model, metrics, and leadership behaviors back into perspective. A perspective that helps either the new implementer or the experienced implementer clear up this perceived dilemma. Michael George says the purpose of the book is to show that the combination of Lean and Six Sigma - when focused on the highest-value projects... can produce remarkable results... This is his simple straightforward message that no one else recently has bothered to tackle.
Don A. Blake, Director
Boeing Production System Implementation
Quality & Process Improvement Dept.
Boeing Wichita Division
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