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Lean production, six sigma quality, TQM and company culture

Jens J. Dahlgaard (Department of Quality Technology and Management, Linköping University, Linköping, Sweden)
Su Mi Dahlgaard‐Park (Department of Service Management, Lund University, Lund, Sweden)

The TQM Magazine

ISSN: 0954-478X

Article publication date: 1 May 2006




The authors analyze the principles and results of lean production and compare the lean production philosophy with the six sigma quality process and the principles of total quality management (TQM). At the end of the paper, it is discussed how to build the necessary company culture for having success with these principles/management philosophies.


Literature search and comparative analysis complemented with a Danish case on wastage in a core process.


It is shown that the lean production philosophy and the six sigma steps are essentially the same and both have developed from the same root – the Japanese TQM practices. The improvement process from six sigma, the DMAIC process, can be regarded as a short version of the Quality Story, which was developed in Japan in the 1960s as a standard for QC‐circle presentations. We conclude that the roadmaps of lean production and six sigma quality are examples of new alternative TQM roadmaps. We also conclude that especially with lean production and six sigma quality there seems to be too much focus on training people intools and techniques and at the same time too little focus on understanding the human factor, i.e. how to build the right company culture.


The detailed and historical analysis of six sigma quality, lean production and TQM combined with a focus on the human factor and the needed corporate culture.



Dahlgaard, J.J. and Mi Dahlgaard‐Park, S. (2006), "Lean production, six sigma quality, TQM and company culture", The TQM Magazine, Vol. 18 No. 3, pp. 263-281.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2006, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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