Running your own small business is a rewarding experience that involves careful monitoring of the company’s overall status. Many small business CEOs seek ways to streamline their operations because being efficient has a direct impact on how much revenue they make and how profitable their company is.
Two similar yet distinct strategies for business improvement are Six Sigma and Kaizen. Many small business CEOs have heard of these approaches, but not everyone understands what they entail. The business world is full of important terms to know and key concepts to dive into, and it can be difficult to stay on top of all of them.
Here is a look at how Kaizen and Six Sigma work and what benefits they can bring to your business.
Six Sigma and Kaizen – What are they?
When thinking about Six Sigma vs Kaizen in business, it is important to understand what each approach entails to make an effective comparison. Although we will provide a brief overview below, enrolling in a course of further education is the best way to gain a deeper understanding of these strategies. The online Master of Business Administration degree at Spring Arbor University Online is a case in point. Their flexible online business master’s program teaches you about key business principles like this and enables any small business CEO to use them properly in their own firm.
For those who want a general idea, however, it is important to know that both approaches are similar in their aims. For example, they both strive for continuous improvements in business through the creation of more efficient processes. Both will also try to drive improvements in business through the reduction of waste and more efficient working practices. In addition, both approaches can be used in a wide variety of industries, such as healthcare, automotive and manufacturing.
Six Sigma and Kaizen differ in their application
Although both of these business methodologies share similar aims and can be used in most industries, they do have different ways of reaching their eventual goals. This makes it important to not only understand these differences but also choose the best approach for your own specific business needs.
In simple terms, Six Sigma is a way of doing business with a focus on the quality of a finished item or product. It is more concerned with looking at the final product, assessing any defects and looking for ways to eliminate these defects in the future. This approach sees businesses changing their actual processes if necessary to develop a product without any flaws. It is also an approach that uses statistics and analysis to drive improvements.
It is based on careful observation and measurable metrics that investigate how any final result deviates from perfection. This can make Six Sigma more useful for sectors such as manufacturing or automotive.
Kaizen is a little different and is more of a general belief system than a set process. It is based on making gradual, small improvements across all areas of a business. This commitment to business-wide improvement runs from the lowest levels up to the top. Because it is focused on improvements across a company in general, it can be more suitable for a wider variety of organizations, including those that do not manufacture actual goods. Many small businesses will also favor Kaizen as a strategy.
What benefits do Six Sigma and Kaizen strategies offer?
You might be wondering why you should use either of these methodologies in your own company. Understanding proven concepts is the key to business success – whether it is understanding how economics protect your business in tough times or grasping why you should use Six Sigma or Kaizen. The truth is that there are a host of reasons that using either approach can help your own firm grow in the future.
Both strategies can help cut back on costs and decrease spending. This mainly comes down to how both approaches can pinpoint where wastage is occurring in your business processes. By taking steps to eliminate or greatly reduce this business wastage, you will end up spending less on expenses such as materials and therefore generate better profits.
In addition, both Six Sigma and Kaizen can boost workplace efficiency and productivity. This can help you improve business processes and procedures and see you fine-tune this side of your company to ensure every part of it runs as efficiently as possible.
This can also influence employee productivity. For example, you may employ Kaizen in your own business and discover that low levels of employee engagement in a certain team are impacting how much work they do.
By making improvements to staff morale in this area via offerings such as flexible working, work from home opportunities or regular team meetings to air grievances, you can also improve how productive they are and your business’s overall productivity.
What other benefits are there to implementing Kaizen and Six Sigma in your business?
Implementing one of these strategies can also lead to quality improvements. This can be in terms of a final product you manufacture (for Six Sigma), the quality of work staff produces or even the quality of your workplace culture (for Kaizen). As noted earlier, it is essential to choose the right technique to meet your goals.
How can quality levels be boosted with these business principles? In simple terms, it comes down to how they give you a factual and up-to-date picture of your company. Once you have this, you can see where quality is not quite up to standards and where improvements can be made. The knock-on effect is higher-quality products that people will want to buy and better-quality services they will want to use.
Employing these philosophies in your own company can also help promote a more positive attitude toward your business by the public. This is especially true if you adopt Kaizen when looking at customer service. If you can use this approach to make small yet vital improvements in this area, you will end up offering a higher level service to consumers over time. This can not only inspire them to return as loyal customers but also to tell more people how great your brand is.
What about Lean?
Any well-informed small business CEO will know that there is another philosophy to improve efficiency known as Lean that is just as famous as Six Sigma and Kaizen and also has the same general aims. The major difference with Lean is that it is suited mostly to manufacturing environments and is focused solely on reducing waste.
This can include anything that does not add value to the customer or is not needed. The main forms of waste in Lean include inventory, transport and overproduction. It is therefore a very good strategy for businesses looking to ramp up production levels, work faster and boost the quality of their finished products.
Can you use Kaizen and Six Sigma in your business at the same time?
One burning question many small business CEOs may have in this area is whether both approaches can be used at the same time. If their aims are similar, could they clash when used alongside one another?
The truth is that Six Sigma and Kaizen can be used simultaneously in a business. In fact, many of the world’s top brands are using them both to great effect. It all comes down to the different way each philosophy works and their different uses.
Six Sigma, for example, is most useful for looking at finished products and the processes that bring you to that final product. Kaizen, on the other hand, is a general belief system in business that looks at all areas to see where small improvements can be made. It is therefore entirely possible to use Six Sigma in one part of your business where it is most applicable and Kaizen on a wider, macro level.
Six Sigma and Kaizen are beneficial to small business owners
When you hear about huge business concepts like Six Sigma and Kaizen being used at top corporations, you might wonder if they are also handy for smaller businesses. The truth is that both approaches are ideal for any small company that wants to boost quality, reduce waste and improve efficiency.
Not only do these philosophies help you generate more profits over time, but they can also help you end up with a happier, leaner business. Learning about higher-level business techniques like these can help you grow as a business leader, leaving you more prepared to work at the cutting edge of technology.