Critical success factors for the effective implementation of Lean Sigma

Laureani, Alessandro and Antony, Jiju (2012) Critical success factors for the effective implementation of Lean Sigma. International Journal of Lean Six Sigma, 3 (4). pp. 274-283. ISSN 2040-4166

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    Purpose – Identification of critical success factors (CSFs) for any continuous improvement initiative is important as it allows organisations to focus their efforts on these factors to ensure a success. The purpose of this paper is to present the CSFs for the effective implementation of Lean Six Sigma and to analyze the implementation of Lean Six Sigma, focusing on the CSFs identified in the literature, through a survey of companies, geographically dispersed, from both the manufacturing and service industry. Design/methodology/approach – The approach taken by authors in this study has two fundamental parts. The first part was to analyse the current literature on CSFs for all continuous improvement initiatives such as TQM, Lean, Six Sigma and Lean Six Sigma. The second part was to design a survey questionnaire based on the literature. The questionnaire was sent to 600 companies (both manufacturing and service) and the response rate is approximately 17 per cent. Findings – Analysis of key findings highlighted that the most important factors are: management commitment, cultural change, linking Lean Six Sigma to business strategy and leadership styles. The results also revealed that the least important factors are linking Six Sigma to HR rewards and extending Lean Six Sigma to supply chain. Research limitations/implications – A sample size of 101 companies is not sufficient to generalise our key findings. This will be rectified by carrying out further surveys in the forthcoming months and making this investigation a longitudinal study. Moreover, the authors have to execute semi‐structured interviews to obtain a better understanding of the current practice of Lean Six Sigma in participating organisations. An online survey was administered for this study; however future semi‐structured interviews with employees in those companies would enable one to have a better understanding of their practice of Lean Six Sigma programmes. Originality/value – Although there are a number of papers published on CSFs of Lean and Six Sigma, it was found that there is a dearth of literature on CSFs of Lean Six Sigma implementation. The authors also compare and contrast the CSFs in both manufacturing and service organisations. The results showed what the most and least important factors are for a successful implementation of Lean Six Sigma, providing valuable insights for organizations which will be embarking on this journey.