Why do Lean Six Sigma programs often fail? And what are the main elements for a successful one?

Lance Nicholls, MBA and Senior Director at Zenith Lean Training, uses the following outline to address why Lean Six Sigma Programs usually fail and what it takes to run a successful program. In the latter half of his talk, Lance uses an actual project to demonstrate what a successful Lean Six Sigma project looks like.


  • Japanese Methodology 
  • Too Technical
  • Difficult to Change

Mindset Behind Lean

  • Cultural Change
  • Problem Solving – Effective Methods
  • Cost Neutral

Why LSS Fails

(Most of the Time)

  • Leadership Team has not “bought in”
  • Poor commitment from leadership even after “buying-in”
  • Poorly trained people
  • Poor strategy (What is the company trying to achieve?)
  • It’s a journey

How to Run Successful Programs

  • Effectively trained people
  • Commitment to change
  • Open mind – Two steps forward and one step back is still progress
  • Have a strategic approach

The Actual Project – Manufacturing a Molded Plastic Part

Lance gives an overview of the project. As Lance states, while this example is for manufacturing, the elements apply equally in a service setting.

The highlights include:

  • Defect data collection
  • Top defects and their location
  • Cause and effect analysis
  • Consensus on main defect causes
  • Root Cause Analysis for main defect
  • Initial low-cost improvement actions
  • Defect reduction due to initial actions
  • Action plan going forward

You can view the video here.