Six Sigma and lean production are established concepts in industry and academia. Both have given rise to associated concepts that have been applied in product development: Design for Six Sigma (DFSS) and Lean Product Development (LPD), respectively. Proposals are being published for the merger of DFSS and LPD, and the purpose of this paper is to discuss potential benefits and risks of such proposals.
The paper is based on an interview study encompassing 11 interviews at seven companies.
The results show that a possible merger of DFSS and LPD could prove beneficial in providing guidance both on the structure and the content of improvement efforts. Further, a merger has a potential of supporting radical, as well as incremental, improvements. However, differences in industrial practices that should be considered in applications of a merged initiative are the overall goal of the improvement work (cost reduction versus waste reduction), the emphasis on what to do or on how to do it, and the documentation demanded (extensive versus short and visual).
This study has taken DFSS and LPD applications as its starting point, as the merged initiative of DFSS and LPD has started to develop further studies based on the implementation of the merged initiative would be of value. These studies could especially focus on the organisation of improvement work, identified in this paper as a potential area of conflict.
This paper discusses potential benefits as well as risks of merging DFSS and LPD based on industrial experiences. Consideration of the differences addressed, by practitioners as well as academics, will contribute to a well thought‐out design of a merger of the two concepts.
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