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Six Sigma vs Lean: Some perspectives from leading academics and practitioners

Jiju Antony (Centre for Research in Six Sigma and Process Excellence and Department of DMEM, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, UK)

International Journal of Productivity and Performance Management

ISSN: 1741-0401

Article publication date: 18 January 2011




The purpose of this paper is to present the fundamental and critical differences between two of the most powerful methodologies in a process excellence initiative in any organisation.


The approach taken was to collate opinions from a number of leading academics and practitioners from five different countries. It was also important to ensure that all participants have a good knowledge and expertise in the field of both Lean and Six Sigma methodologies.


Although both methodologies are focused on process and quality improvement, Lean is formalisation and codification of experience and judgement which is not a feature of Six Sigma. Lean emphasises speed and waste, however Six Sigma emphasises variation, defects and process evaluation.

Research limitations/implications

The viewpoints expressed in the article are those of a few academics and practitioners. It is important to capture the viewpoints of more academics and practitioners to arrive at sound and valid conclusions.


The paper provides an excellent resource for many researchers and for practitioners who are engaged in research and applications of the most two powerful methodologies for achieving and sustaining operational excellence. It is also critical to understand the fundamental differences between these two methodologies.



Antony, J. (2011), "Six Sigma vs Lean: Some perspectives from leading academics and practitioners", International Journal of Productivity and Performance Management, Vol. 60 No. 2, pp. 185-190.



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Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited