Lean & Six Sigma Glossary


A disciplined approach to maintaining order in the workplace, using visual controls, to eliminate waste. Derived from the Japanese words seiri, seiton, seiso, seiketsu, and shitsuke, which have been translated into English as sort, straighten, scrub, systematize, and standardize. Safety is often included as a sixth S.

The 5s are:

  1. Sort – separate out what’s needed and eliminate unnecessary material.
  2. Set in order – make sure that everything has a clear place.
  3. Shine – keep the workplace clean.
  4. Standardize – follow procedures and demarcate clear responsibilities.
  5. Sustain – make compliance with procedures automatic.
5 Why Analysis

The problem solving technique used to entails the progressive asking of “Why?” at least five times or until the root cause is established. Behind the Five Whys is the Japanese philosophy of repeatedly asking why to find not only the direct sources of your problems, but also the root of those sources. As each answer to the why question is documented, an additional inquiry is made concerning that response.


Typically the primary categories of the cause- and-effect diagram: machines, manpower, materials, measurements, methods, and Mother Nature. Using these categories as a structured approach provides some assurance that few causes will be overlooked.


The “5S” with the addition of “Safety”.


The “6Ms” with the addition of “Management”.

7 Wastes

Seven wastes are defined as the seven key areas of wasteful business activities identified by Taiichi Ohno from Toyota

The 7 wastes consist of:

  1. Defects
  2. Overproduction
  3. Transportation
  4. Waiting
  5. Inventory
  6. Motion
  7. Processing
8 Wastes

The “7 Wastes” with the addition of “Non-utilised Talent”.

A3 Report

A3 Reports are one-page reports used at Toyota for documenting the necessary information needed for progress reporting and decision-making.

The A3 includes the background, problem statement, analysis, proposed corrective actions (and the action plan), and the expected results, often with graphics.

Abnormality Management

A system by which abnormalities in the process are successfully detected and corrected.


The closeness of agreement between a test result or measurement result and the true or reference value.

Action Plan

The steps taken to implement the actions needed to achieve strategic goals and objectives.


An action of some type that requires a time duration for accomplishment.

Affinity Diagram

The affinity diagram organizes a large number of ideas into their natural relationships. It was created in the 1960s by Japanese anthropologist Jiro Kawakita.

This technique is used to group like ideas together during problem-solving or idea-generation brainstorming sessions, resulting in separate groupings with coherent central themes.

Agile Manufacturing

Agile manufacturing is the ability to accomplish rapid changeover between the manufacture of different assemblies. Agile manufacturers must recognize the volatility of change, and put mechanisms in place to deal with it. Rapid changeover is further defined as the ability to move from the assembly of one product to the assembly of a similar product with a minimum of change in tooling and software. Rapid changeover enables the production of small lot sizes, allowing for `just-in-time’ production.


Japanese word for: Light; A “visual control” device that shows machine, line or process status. A signal, light, bell, music alarm, triggered by an operator confronted with a non-standard condition. Tool failure, machine failure, bad part, lack of parts, cannot keep up; error needs correction, etc. The signal for immediate help to prevent line stop.

Analysis of Variance (ANOVA)

A basic statistical technique for analyzing experimental data. It subdivides the total variation of a data set into meaningful component parts associated with specific sources of variation in order to test a hypothesis on the parameters of the model or to estimate variance components. There are three model types: fixed, random, and mixed.


Transferring human intelligence to automated machinery so machines are able to detect the production of a single defective part and immediately stop themselves. Autonomation is related to jidoka. . This type of automation frees people to perform more valuable activities.

Back Flush

Traditional standard costing systems track costs as products pass from raw materials, to work in progress, to finished goods, and finally to sales. Such systems are called ‘sequential tracking systems’ because the accounting system entries occur in the same order as purchases and production. Sequential tracking is common where management desires to track direct material and labor time to individual operations and products.

Balanced Scorecard

Translates an organization’s mission and strategy into a comprehensive set of performance measures to provide a basis for strategic measurement and management, utilizing four balanced views: financial, customers, internal business processes, and learning and growth.


The current state or foundation that is based on an evaluation of the output over a period of time. It is used to determine the process parameters prior to any improvement effort; it forms the basis against which change is measured.


A method of processing where material is accumulated into a lot (batch) and pushed through the process independent of demand or requirements. The goal of lean is to produce a batch size of one to achieve “single piece flow.

Bar Chart

A graphical method of depicting data grouped by category. A bar chart or graph is a simple visual tool commonly used to show the relative frequencies or counts of the levels of a categorical variable. It shows rectangular bars arranged vertically (along the X-axis) or horizontally (along the Y-axis) with the frequencies


An organization, a part of an organization, or a measurement that serves as a reference point or point of comparison.


An improvement process in which an organization measures its performance against that of best- in-class organizations (or others that are good performers), determines how those organizations achieved their performance levels, and uses the information to improve its own performance. Areas that can be benchmarked include strategies, operations, processes, and procedures.

Benefit-cost analysis

A collection of the dollar value of benefits derived from an initiative divided by the associated costs incurred. A benefit- cost analysis is also known as a cost- benefit analysis.

Beta (β)

(1) The maximum probability or risk of making a Type II error. (2) The probability or risk of incorrectly deciding that a shift in the process mean has not occurred when in fact the process has changed. (3) β is usually designated as consumer’s risk.


A systematic difference between the mean of the test result or measurement result and a true or reference value. For example, if one measures the lengths of 10 pieces of rope that range from 1 foot to 10 feet and always concludes that the length of each piece is 2 inches shorter than the true length, then the individual is exhibiting a bias of 2 inches.

Black Belt (BB)

A Six Sigma role associated with an individual who is typically assigned full time to train and mentor Green Belts as well as lead improvement projects using specified methodologies such as define, measure, analyze, improve, and control (DMAIC); define, measure, analyze, design, and verify (DMADV); and Design for Six Sigma (DFSS).


A collection of experimental units more homogeneous than the full set of experimental units. Blocks are usually selected to allow for special causes, in addition to those introduced as factors to be studied. These special causes may be avoidable within blocks, thus providing a more homogeneous experimental subspace.

Block Diagram

A diagram that describes the operation, interrelationships, and interdependencies of components in a system. Boxes, or blocks (hence the name), represent the components; connecting lines between the blocks represent interfaces. There are two types of block diagrams: a functional block diagram, which shows a system’s subsystems and lower- level products, their interrelationships, and interfaces with other systems, and a reliability block diagram, which is similar to the functional block diagram except that it is modified to emphasize those aspects influencing reliability.

Block Effect

An effect resulting from a block in an experimental design. Existence of a block effect generally means that the method of blocking was appropriate and that an assignable cause has been found.


Including blocks in an experiment in order to broaden the applicability of the conclusions or minimize the impact of selected assignable causes. The randomization of the experiment is restricted and occurs within blocks.


A process that constricts or limits the flow of the overall process.


Business process reengineering (BPR) is the analysis and redesign of workflow within and between enterprises. BPR reached its heyday in the early 1990’s when Michael Hammer and James Champy published their best-selling book, “Reengineering the Corporation”. They suggested seven principles of reengineering to streamline the work process and thereby achieve significant levels of improvement in quality, time management, and cost:

  1. Organize around outcomes, not tasks.
  2. Identify all the processes in an organization and prioritize them in order of redesign urgency.
  3. Integrate information processing work into the real work that produces the information.
  4. Treat geographically dispersed resources as though they were centralized.
  5. Link parallel activities in the workflow instead of just integrating their results.
  6. Put the decision point where the work is performed, and build control into the process.
  7. Capture information once and at the source.
Brain Storming

A technique used by a team to generate a large number of ideas in a short time .All ideas are written down, and no idea, however apparently silly, is criticized, because ideas that appear silly at first sight may trigger suggestions that are practical.


The comparison of a measurement instrument or system of unverified accuracy to a measurement instrument or system of known accuracy to detect any variation from the true value.


The performance of a process demonstrated to be in a state of statistical control.


A series of discussion between managers and their employees during which data, ideas, and analysis are thrown like a ball.

Cause-and-Effect (C&E) diagram:

See fishbone diagram


A Six Sigma role of a senior manager who ensures his or her projects are aligned with the organization’s strategic goals and priorities, provides the Six Sigma team with resources, removes organizational barriers for the team, participates in project tollgate reviews, and essentially serves as the team’s backer. Although many organizations define the terms “Champion” and “sponsor” differently, they are frequently used interchangeably.


A variety of techniques, such as SMED (single-minute exchange of dies), which reduce equipment setup time and permit more frequent setups, thus improving flexibility and reducing lot sizes and lead times. Lean systems achieve lower inventory levels through small lot sizes, which in turn require Quick Changeovers

Cellular Manufacturing

Cellular Manufacturing (CM) refers to a manufacturing system wherein the equipment and workstations are arranged in an efficient sequence that allows a continuous and smooth movement of inventories and materials to produce products from start to finish in a single process flow, while incurring minimal transport or waiting time, or any delay for that matter. CM is an important ingredient of lean manufacturing.


Japanese term for a single-piece manufacturing process in which a worker takes the piece from one workstation to the next, and sets up and operates each machine from beginning to the end of the production cycle.

Continuous Flow

The ideal state where products move through a manufacturing process – or people move through a service process – one at a time, without stopping or waiting.

Complete Block

A block that accommodates a complete set of treatment combinations.

Completely Randomized Design

A design in which the treatments are randomly assigned to the full set of experimental units. No blocks are involved.

Completely Randomized Factorial Design

A factorial design in which all the treatments are randomly assigned to the full set of experimental units.


An affirmative indication or judgment that the supplier of a product or service has met the requirements of the relevant specifications, contract, or regulation; also the state of meeting the requirements.

Concurrent Engineering

A way to reduce cost, improve quality, and shrink cycle time by simplifying a product’s system of life- cycle tasks during the early concept stages. Concurrent engineering is a process to get all departments from engineering, purchasing, marketing, manufacturing, and finance to work on a new design at once to speed development. The emphasis is on upstream prevention versus downstream correction. Concurrent engineering is also known as simultaneous engineering.


Anything that limits a system from achieving higher performance or throughput.

Continuous Improvement (CI or Kaizen)

A way of doing work in which every worker is constantly taking steps to remove waste from their processes.

Continuous Improvement Plan (CIP)

An annual business plan and timeline that schedules and communicates Continuous Improvement initiatives for a site, including training, progress and results to date, and implementation activities and events.

Cycle Time

The time elapsed from the start to the end (one cycle) of an operation. It is the time taken to complete processing of a single unit of a product/transaction and includes the time consumed by all activities within the process area including product/service creation or transformation, wait time, transportation, and rework.

Confidence Interval

An estimate of the interval between two statistics that includes the true value of the parameter with some probability. This probability is called the confidence level of the estimate. Confidence levels typically used are 90%, 95%, and 99%. Either the interval contains the parameter or it does not.

Confidence level

The probability that (1) the confidence interval described by a set of confidence limits actually includes the population parameter and (2) an interval about a sample statistic actually includes the population parameter. The confidence level is also known as the confidence coefficient.

Confidence limits

The endpoints of the interval about the sample statistic that is believed, with a specified confidence level, to include the population parameter

Conflict Resolution

A process for resolving disagreements in a manner acceptable to all parties.


A statistical calculation used to indicate how well a design tolerance compares with the normal process variation (defined as +/-3s). The greater the value of Cp, the smaller the probability of creating a defect for the measured characteristic of that product, or system component. Cp is calculated without accounting for the centering of the process and uses the estimated standard deviation for sigma


A statistical calculation used to indicate how well a design tolerance compares with the normal process variation (defined as +/-3s) and accounts for any difference between the design target and the actual process mean. Cpk is used to predict actual process performance. Cpk is the same as Cp if the process mean (µ) is exactly at the target. If the process is off target then Cpk is less than (worse) Cp.

Critical Success Factors (CSFs)

The term key success factors can be used in four different ways: a) as a necessary ingredient in a management information system, b) as a unique characteristic of a company, c) as a heuristic tool for managers to sharpen their thinking, d) as a description of the major skills and resources required to be successful in a given market.

Control Chart

A chart that plots a statistical measure of a series of samples in a particular order to steer the process regarding that measure and to control and reduce variation. The control chart comprises the plotted points, a set of upper and lower control limits, and a center line. Specific rules are used to determine when the control chart goes out of control. Note: (1) the order is either time or sample number order based, and (2) the control chart operates most effectively when the measure is a process characteristic correlated with an ultimate product or service characteristic. The control chart is one of the seven basic tools of quality.

Control Plan

A living document that identifies critical input or output variables and associated activities that must be performed to maintain control of the variation of processes, products, and services in order to minimize deviation from their preferred values.

Corrective Action

Action taken to eliminate the root cause(s) and symptom(s) of an existing deviation or nonconformity to prevent recurrence.

Cost of Quality (COQ)

The costs specifically associated with the achievement or nonachievement of product or service quality, including all product or service requirements established by the organization and its contracts with customers and society. More specifically, quality costs are the total costs incurred by (1) investing in the prevention of nonconformances to requirements, (2) appraising a product or service for conformance to requirements, and (3) failing to meet requirements. These can then be categorized as prevention, appraisal, and failure.

Daily Management

Attention each day to those issues concerned with the normal operation of a business.


A performance dashboard that is visually based, providing operational information that displays real-time understanding of the performance of an organization through metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs).


A Six Sigma defect is defined as anything outside of customer specifications.

Defects Per Unit (DPU)

The average number of defects per unit. The ratio of defects to unit is the universal measure of quality. DPU = Total # of Defects / Total population

Defects Per Million Opportunities (DPMO)

DPMO is a measure of the capability of a process. DPMO number indicates the number of defects observed or expected in a process when there is a possibility (opportunity) to have made a million defects. The best possible process in the world would have 0 DPMO and the worst possible process in the world would have 1,000,000 DPMO.

Deming Prize

Award given annually to organizations that, according to the award guidelines, have successfully applied organization- wide quality control based on statistical quality control and will keep up with it in the future.

Design of Experiments (DOE)

In an experiment, we deliberately change one or more process variables (or factors) in order to observe the effect the changes have on one or more response variables. The (statistical) design of experiments (DOE) is an efficient procedure for planning experiments so that the data obtained can be analyzed to yield valid and objective conclusions.

DOE begins with determining the objectives of an experiment and selecting the process factors for the study. An Experimental Design is the laying out of a detailed experimental plan in advance of doing the experiment.

Design for Six Sigma (DFSS)

A structured methodology that focuses on designing new products or services with the intent of achieving Six Sigma quality levels.

Design for X (DFX)

An umbrella term whereby X is a variable that can assume multiple descriptions such as maintainability, manufacturability, producibility, quality, testability, or whatever component of design, logistics, production, quality, and so forth, of the product needs to be emphasized.


A structured methodology similar to DFSS. DMADV is an acronym for define, measure, analyze, design, and verify. Variations of DMADV exist.


Downtime refers to time when the machine should be running, but it stands still. Downtime includes two main types of loss: equipment failures, and all kinds of waiting, like setup and adjustments, no raw material.


See Poka-Yoke

External Customer

Any party outside the organization that purchases or relies on goods or services produced by the organization.

External Supplier

Any party outside the organization that provides goods or services to the organization.

Failure Mode Effects Analysis (FMEA)

Failure modes and effects analysis (FMEA) is a step-by-step approach for identifying all possible failures in a design, a manufacturing or assembly process, or a product or service. “Failure modes” means the ways, or modes, in which something might fail. Failures are any errors or defects, especially ones that affect the customer, and can be potential or actual. “Effects analysis” refers to studying the consequences of those failures.

Failures are prioritized according to how serious their consequences are, how frequently they occur and how easily they can be detected. The purpose of the FMEA is to take actions to eliminate or reduce failures, starting with the highest-priority ones.

Fishbone Diagram

A fishbone diagram, also called a cause and effect diagram or Ishikawa diagram, is a visualization tool for categorizing the potential causes of a problem in order to identify its root causes. A fishbone diagram is useful in brainstorming sessions to focus conversation. After the group has brainstormed all the possible causes for a problem, the facilitator helps the group to rate the potential causes according to their level of importance and diagram a hierarchy.

First in first out (FIFO)

A process to manage orders or inventory so that the oldest is processed first. The goal of FIFO is to prevent earlier orders from being delayed unfairly in favor of new orders.

Gage Repeatability and Reproducibility (GR&R) study

A type of measurement system analysis done to evaluate the performance of a test method or measurement system. Such a study quantifies the capabilities and limitations of a measurement instrument, often estimating its repeatability and reproducibility. It typically involves multiple operators measuring a series of measurement items multiple times.

Gantt chart

A type of bar chart used in process/project planning and control to display planned work and finished work in relation to time.

Gap Analysis

A technique that compares an organization’s existing state with its desired state (typically expressed by its long- term plans) to help determine what needs to be done to remove or minimize the gap.


Japanese word for: “the real place”, the actual workplace where value is created – often the shopfloor


In Japanese, it refers the actual product. These are a company’s parts, tools, jigs, fixtures, machines, equipment and materials all used to manufacture quality products.


In Japanese, it refers to the “actual facts” or reliable and observed data required to understand what the actual situation/problem is.

Green Belt (GB)

A Six Sigma role associated with an individual who retains his or her regular position within the firm but is trained in the tools, methods, and skills necessary to conduct Six Sigma improvement projects either individually or as part of larger teams.


Device or means of automatic unload of the work piece from one operation or process, providing the proper state for the next work piece to be loaded. Automatic unloading and orientation for the next process is essential for a “Chaku-Chaku” line


Japanese term meaning to acknowledge your own mistake and to pledge improvement. Deep personal reflection


Japanese technique of achieving even output flow by coordinated sequencing of very small production batches throughout the manufacturing line in a lean production or just in time (JIT) system. The objective of Heijunka is to absorb sudden fluctuations in market demand by producing several different models in small batches on the same line. It is the principle of “one piece flow”.


It is a graphical method that represents the distribution of values in a data set. A histogram consists of tabular frequencies, shown as adjacent rectangles, erected over discrete intervals (bins), with an area equal to the frequency of the observations in the interval. The height of a rectangle is also equal to the frequency density of the interval, i.e., the frequency divided by the width of the interval. The total area of the histogram is equal to the number of data.

Hoshin Kanri

Hoshin Kanri is a Japanese term for strategic planning and policy deployment (Hoshin = Direction, Kanri = Management). It communicates company policy to everyone in the organization and helps focus improvement activity on the key drivers for success. Also called Hoshin Planning. Hoshin kanri is a method devised to capture and cement strategic goals as well as flashes of insight about the future and develop the means to bring these into reality

Ishikawa Diagram

See Fishbone Diagram


Providing machines and operators the ability to detect when an abnormal condition has occurred and immediately stop work. This enables operations to build in quality at each process and to separate men and machines for more efficient work. Jidoka is one of the two pillars of the Toyota Production System along with just-in-time.

Jidoka sometimes is called autonomation, meaning automation with human intelligence. This is because it gives equipment the ability to distinguish good parts from bad autonomously, without being monitored by an operator.


A system for producing and delivering the right items at the right time in the right amounts. Just-in-Time approaches just-on-time when upstream activities occur minutes or seconds before down-stream activities, so single-piece flow is possible.Low inventory production system, also known as Stockless Production, using Pull Scheduling to replenish downstream operations with work-in-process inventory as demanded.


Lean production term which in Japanese means radical overhaul of an activity to eliminate all waste (muda in Japanese) and create greater value.

Kano Model

A visual way to understand customer requirements. This model is a graphical plot of fulfillment versus satisfaction. The extent to which a process fulfills customer needs, wants and delighters directly affects the level of customer satisfaction and perceived value.


Kanso (simplicity) is a principle that dictates that beauty and utility need not be overstated, overly decorative, ornate, or fanciful. Kanso imparts a sense of being fresh, clean, and neat.


The Japanese word for continuous improvement. Kaizen has come to mean the philosophy of continuous improvement .It is a “do it now” approach to continuous, incremental improvement of an activity to create more value with less muda.

Kaizen Blitz

A Kaizen Blitz, often referred to as a Kaizen Event or a Kaizen Burst, is an intense, coordinated effort—normally occurring over the course of three to five long days focused on achieving radical improvement of a single process or operation within an organization.


Japanese term meaning “a signboard”.The signal tells workers to pull parts or refill material to a certain quantity used in production. . Traditionally it was a physical card used by a downstream operation to communicate to an upstream operation the need for additional inventory. The number of Kanban cards, together with the quantity indicated on the cards was used to control the amount of work-in-process inventory. In modern times the signaling system is most often electronic. Kanban is a commonly used tool in Just-in-time production systems.

Lead Time

Time it takes to produce a single product, from the time of customer order to shipment. For example, the lead-time for ordering a new car from a manufacturer may be anywhere from 2 weeks to 6 months. In industry, lead-time reduction is an important part of lean manufacturing

Level production

See Heijunka


It is defined as an overall methodology that seeks to minimize the resources required for production by eliminating waste (non-value added activities) that inflate costs, lead times and inventory requirements, and emphasizing the use of preventive maintenance, quality improvement programs, pull systems, flexible work forces and production facilities.

Lean Six Sigma (LSS)

Lean Six Sigma (LSS) is a powerful, flexible and proven cost and waste elimination method that has been used successfully in both private and public organizations. It is applicable equally to both industrial/manufacturing processes and transactional/customer service processes. LSS traces its origins back to the 1950s via, at that time, the independent Lean process efficiency methodology and the Six Sigma quality improvement methodology. As a combined entity, LSS has been on the scene since the 1990s. Since then, LSS has been shown time and again to enable organizations to reduce total costs by 25% by eliminating wasted time and activities from operations. This waste reduction effort has also served to increase the quality of the organization’s products. Most importantly, LSS builds foundations within organizations that stimulate and nurture cultures of continuous improvement; thus providing these benefits both today and into the future.

Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award (MBNQA)

An award established by Congress in 1987 to raise awareness of quality management and to recognize U.S. organizations that have implemented successful quality management systems. A Criteria for Performance Excellence is published each year. Three awards may be given annually in each of five categories: manufacturing businesses, service businesses, small businesses, education institutions, and health- care organizations. The award is named after the late secretary of commerce Malcolm Baldrige, a proponent of quality management. The U.S. Commerce Department’s National Institute of

Standards and Technology manages the award, and ASQ administers it. The major emphasis in determining success is achieving results driven by effective processes.

Master Black Belt (MBB)

A Six Sigma role associated with an individual typically assigned full time to train and mentor Black Belts as well as lead the strategy to ensure improvement projects chartered are the right strategic projects for the organization. Master Black Belts are usually the authorizing body to certify Green Belts and Black Belts within an organization. mean-time-to-failure (MTTF)—a basic measure of system reliability for nonrepairable items. The total number of life units for an item divided by the total number of failures within that population, during a particular measurement interval under stated conditions.

Mean-Time-To-Repair (MTTR)

A basic measure of maintainability. The sum of corrective maintenance times at any specific level of repair, divided by the total number of failures within an item repaired at that level, during a particular interval under stated conditions.


The middle number or center value of a set of data when all the data are arranged in increasing order.


See Poka-Yoke


Any activity that consumes resources, but creates no value. Muda is categorized in two forms: Type-1 muda is necessary for the process, but non-value-added; type-2 muda is both unnecessary and non-value-added.

There are 7 original types of Muda:

  • Overproduction
  • Inventory
  • Repairs/Rejects (Defects)
  • Motion
  • Processing
  • Waiting
  • Transportation

Japanese word for “Unevenness” – fluctuation in demand that causes the workflow to be uneven.


Japanese word for “Overburdening” – excessive demand on a system that causes the system to produce beyond its reasonable capacity. Pushing a machine or person beyond natural limits. Overburdening people results in safety and quality problems. Overburdening equipment causes breakdowns and defects.


Smooth production flow, ideally one piece at a time, characterized by synchronization (balancing) of production processes and maximum utilization of available time, including overlapping of operations where practical

Nichijo Kanri

Daily fundamental management. This is the opposite of Hoshin Kanii or Policy Deployment, which is the direction setting management or strategic planning function.


The art of invisibility


Activities which are essential tasks that have to be done under present working conditions but don’t add value to the product (sometimes referred to as required waste).

Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE)

A way to measure the effectiveness of a machine taking into consideration any losses

OEE = % time machine available x % of maximum output achieved x % perfect output. It measures the degree to which machines are adding value by not being wastefully employed due to planned or unplanned downtime or in producing defects.


Producing more than the customer requires. One of the seven forms of waste.

Pareto chart

A Pareto chart, named after Vilfredo Pareto, is a type of chart that contains both bars and a line graph, where individual values are represented in descending order by bars, and the cumulative total is represented by the line.

Parts Per Million (ppm)

The number of times an occurrence happens in one million chances. In a typical quality setting it usually indicates the number of times a defective part will happen in a million parts produced; the calculation is often projected into the future on the basis of past performance. Parts per million allows for comparison of different types of product. A ppm of 3.4 corresponds to a Six Sigma level of quality assuming a 1.5 shift of the mean.


PDCA (plan–do–check–act or plan–do–check–adjust) is an iterative four-step management method used in business for the control and continuous improvement of processes and products.

The steps in each successive PDCA cycle are:


Establish the objectives and processes necessary to deliver results in accordance with the expected output (the target or goals). By establishing output expectations, the completeness and accuracy of the specification is also a part of the targeted improvement. When possible start on a small scale to test possible effects.


Implement the plan, execute the process, make the product. Collect data for charting and analysis in the following “CHECK” and “ACT” steps.


Study the actual results (measured and collected in “DO” above) and compare against the expected results (targets or goals from the “PLAN”) to ascertain any differences. Look for deviation in implementation from the plan and also look for the appropriateness and completeness of the plan to enable the execution, i.e., “Do”. Charting data can make this much easier to see trends over several PDCA cycles and in order to convert the collected data into information. Information is what you need for the next step “ACT”.


Request corrective actions on significant differences between actual and planned results. Analyze the differences to determine their root causes. Determine where to apply changes that will include improvement of the process or product. When a pass through these four steps does not result in the need to improve, the scope to which PDCA is applied may be refined to plan and improve with more detail in the next iteration of the cycle, or attention needs to be placed in a different stage of the process.


The pace and flow of a product.


A poka-yoke is any mechanism in a lean manufacturing process that helps an equipment operator avoid (yokeru) mistakes (poka). Its purpose is to eliminate product defects by preventing, correcting, or drawing attention to human errors as they occur.

poka-yoke is actually the first step in truly error-proofing a system. Error-proofing is a manufacturing technique of preventing errors by designing the manufacturing process, equipment, and tools so that an operation literally cannot be performed incorrectly.

Point of Use

Keeping all items needed for the job at the location of use in a neat and organized manner.

Process mapping

The flowcharting of a process in detail that includes the identification of inputs and outputs. process owner – a Six Sigma role associated with an individual who coordinates the various functions and work activities at all levels of a process, has the authority or ability to make changes in the process as required, and manages the entire process cycle so as to ensure performance effectiveness.


A system of production that is activated by customer demand, which signals all the upstream activities to build to replenish what has been used or Ensures production of only what has consumed by the downstream process.


Opposite of Pull System; Product is pushed into the process, regardless of whether it is needed or not.

Quality Function Deployment (QFD)

Quality function deployment (QFD) is a “method of translating customer requirements into the appropriate technical requirements for each stage of product development and production. Since its initial development in Japan in the late 1960s and early 1970s, especially since its rapidly spreading to the US in the 1980s and later to many industries in many nations, a vast literature on QFD has evolved.

Return On Equity (ROE)

The net profit after taxes, divided by last year’s tangible stockholders’ equity, and then multiplied by 100 to provide a percentage.

Return On Investment (ROI)

An umbrella term for a variety of ratios measuring an organization’s business performance and calculated by dividing some measure of return by a measure of investment and then multiplying by 100 to provide a percentage. In its most basic form, ROI indicates what remains from all money taken in after all expenses are paid.


Matching tooling and equipment to the job and space requirements.

Root Cause Analysis

A variety of tools used to find the real underlying root cause of a problem Raw Material

Run Chart

A run chart is a line graph of data plotted over time. By collecting and charting data over time, you can find trends or patterns in the process. Because they do not use control limits, run charts cannot tell you if a process is stable. However, they can show you how the process is running. The run chart can be a valuable tool at the beginning of a project, as it reveals important information about a process before you have collected enough data to create reliable control limits.


The act of cleaning the work area.


A Japanese management practice taken from the Japanese words “sei”, which means manufacturing, and “ban”, which means number. A Seiban number is assigned to all parts, materials, and purchase orders associated with a particular customer job, or with a project, or anything else. This enables a manufacturer to track everything related with a particular product, project, or customer.


An outside master or teacher that assists in implementing lean practices.

Scatter Plot

A graph of plotted points that show the relationship between two sets of data.

Shipping Buffer

The time buffer that is placed before the customer to protect them from disruptions.


Shizen (naturalness) is a principle that seeks to achieve a balance between at once being of nature, yet distinct from it-to be viewed as being without pretense, without artifice, not forced, yet to be revealed as intentional rather than accidental or haphazard. For example, high-traffic intersections in Holland have been artfully redesigned to be void of traffic controls, resulting in naturally self-organizing order, fewer accidents and better vehicle flow.


Continually optimizing the number of workers in a work center to meet the type and volume of demand imposed on the work center; Requires that:

  1. Workers are trained in multiple disciplines.
  2. Work center layout, such as U-shaped or circular, that supports a variable number of workers performing the tasks in the layout.
  3. The capability to vary the manufacturing process as appropriate to fit the demand profile

The leader of the team whose job is to design and engineer a new product and it into production.

Single Minute Exchange of Die (SMED)

SMED (Single-Minute Exchange of Dies) is a system for dramatically reducing the time it takes to complete equipment changeovers. The essence of the SMED system is to convert as many changeover steps as possible to “external” (performed while the equipment is running), and to simplify and streamline the remaining steps. The name Single-Minute Exchange of Dies comes from the goal of reducing changeover times to the “single” digits (i.e. less than 10 minutes)


SIPOC is a high-level picture of the process that depicts how the given process is servicing the customer. It is an acronym for Suppliers – Inputs – Process – Outputs – Customers. The definition of each of these SIPOC entities is given below.

  • Suppliers provide inputs to the process.
  • Inputs define the material, service and/or information that are used by the process to produce the outputs.
  • Process is a defined sequence of activities, usually adds value to inputs to produce outputs for the customers.
  • Outputs are the products, services, and/or information that are valuable to the customers.Customers are the users of the outputs produced by the process.
Six Sigma

Six Sigma is the most effective methodology available for improving the performance of any organization by minimizing the defects in its products or services. Every error committed, has a cost associated to it in form of losing customers, redoing a task, replacing a part, waste time/material or losing efficiency.

The Six Sigma methodology was first endorsed at Motorola in the mid-1980s. The company was trying to devise a methodology that could measure defects at a granular level than previous methods and thus help in reducing these defects. This resulted in an astounding increase in the quality levels of several Motorola products, and the company received the inaugural Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award in 1988. Motorola shared the Six Sigma secret openly, and soon various companies started reaping rewards. And by year 2003, total combined savings accumulated to over $100 billion.


See Heijunka

Spaghetti Chart

A spaghetti chart is used to detail the actual physical flow and distances involved in a work process. It is a graphical representation of the movement of materials or people in a process. It also is used to eliminate wasted motion or transportation.

Spider chart

A radial chart showing progress to a goal for five to ten characteristics. It gets its name from its appearance; it looks like a spider web.

Standardized Work

This is one of the key components of Lean system. In order to achieve a balanced work flow, cycle time equal to Takt time, and high quality, work must be standardized at all operations for optimum efficiency and consistency.


The location where a predefined amount of inventory is controlled and released into a pull system by kanban.

Takt Time

Takt is the German word for “beat.” In Lean, Takt time is the pace of production based on the rate of customer consumption. For example, if a widget factory operates 240 minutes per day and customers demand 120 widgets per day, takt time is two minutes.


A proposal, proposition, or suggestion. A teian system can be likened to a system which allows and encourages workers to actively propose process and product improvements.


The output rate of a production process.

Total Productive Maintenance (TPM)

A proactive approach to maintaining equipment. It is divided into three areas: autonomous maintenance, planned maintenance, and predictive maintenance.TPM combines the traditionally American practice of preventive maintenance with Total Quality Control and Total Employee Involvement, to create a culture where operators develop ownership of their equipment, and become full partners with Maintenance, Engineering and Management to assure equipment operates properly every day.

Toyota Production System (TPS)

A production system developed by the Toyota Motor Corporation based on the philosophy that the ideal condition for production is created when machines, facilities, and people work together adding value without creating waste.


A way to keep product flow continuous even when there are interruptions such as outside processing or batch operations.


The worth placed upon goods or services, as defined by the customer

Value Stream Mapping

A diagram of every step involved in the material and information flows needed to bring a product from order to delivery. It is a lean manufacturing or lean enterprise technique used to document, analyze and improve the flow of information or materials required to produce a product or service for a customer.

Visual Management

Placing tools, parts, production activities, plans, schedules, measures and performance indicators in plain view, This assures that the status of the system can be understood at a glance by everyone involved and actions taken locally in support of system objectives

Voice of the customer (VOC)

The collective needs, wants, and desires of the recipient of a process output, a product, or a service, whether expressed or not. The VOC is usually expressed as specifications, requirements, or expectations.Voice Of the Customer; specifies what the customer really wants and is happy to pay for


Any activity that uses resources, but creates no value for the customer. Usually expressed as muda, mura, or muri.

Waterstrider (Mizusumashi)

Water-beetle or Water-spider. A term used to describe the activities of the person responsible for maintaining correct inventories on the production line

Work In Process (WIP)

The inventory between the start and end points of a production process.


A bar graph typically showing the balance of workloads as operator cycle times.


Japanese for “across everywhere”. Knowledge is shared and plant related activities and countermeasures may be communicated plant wide and with other branches of the company and its affiliates.


Policies, Procedures, People, Plant/Technologies


Sort, Straighten, Shine, Standardize, Sustain


Who, What, When, Where, Why, How, How much


Uketorazu, Tsukurazu, Baratsukasazu, Kurikaesazu, Nagasazu


Machines, Methods, Materials, Measurements, Mother Nature (Environment), Manpower (People)


Who, What, When, Where, Why, Which


7 Quality Control Tools


Eight Disciplines Problem Solving Process


Activity Based Costing


Average Daily Demand


Analysis of Means


Analysis of Variance


Advanced Product Quality Planning


Acceptable Quality Level


“Business As Usual


Business Impact Analysis


Business Process Reengineering


Business Value Add


Change Acceleration Process


Corrective and Preventive Action


Corrective Action Report


Critical Business Requirements


Central Composite Design


Capacity Constraint Resource


Continuous Improvement Process


Machine Capability index


Capability Maturity Model


Cost of Conformance


Cost of Non-Conformance


Customer, Output, Process, Input, Supplier


Cost of Poor Quality


Cost of Quality


Process Potential Index (short term)


Process Capability Index (short term)


Critical To Quality Characteristic


Critical To Quality


Cumulative sum control chart


Degrees of Freedom


Design For Lean Six Sigma


Design Failure Mode and Effect


Design for Six Sigma


Design for X (where X is any requirement)








Design of Experiments


Defects, Overproduction, Transportation, Waiting, Inventory, Motion, Processing


Defects Per Million Opportunities


Defects per Opportunity


Defects per Unit


(DVP&PV) Design Verification, Production and Process Validation


Engineering Change Order


Engineering Change Request


Extract Load Transfer


Enterprise Resource Planning


Engineering Sample Evaluation Report


Evolutionary Operation


Exponentially Weighted Moving Average Chart


Function Analysis System Technique


Frequently Committed Errors


Finished Goods


First In, First Out


First In, Still Here


Failure Modes and Effects Analysis


Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards


Find, Organize, Clarify, Understand, Select, Plan, Do, Check, Act


First Pass Yield


Global Commerce Initiative


Glenday Sieve


Global Quality Tracking System


Goals, Roles, Processes, and Interpersonal Relationships


Hazard analysis and critical control points




Expanded Theory of Inventive Problem Solving


Information Communication Technology


Identify, Design, Optimize, Validate


Individuals and Moving Range chart


Inter-Quartile Range


Internal Rate of Return


International Organization for Standardization


Information Technology Infrastructure Library


Knowledge Based Community


Key Business Issue


Analytical Method by Jiro Kawakita


Key Performance Indicator


Key Process Input Variables


Key Process Output Variable


Lean Business Health Check


Lower Control Limit


Last In, First Out


Lean Level of Buffering


Lower Specification Limit


Lean Six Sigma


Lean Six Sigma Body of Knowledge


Lot Tolerance Percent Defective


Map+Measure, Explore+Evaluate, Define+Descibe, Implement+Improve, Control+Conform


Modular Arrangements of Predetermined Time Standards


Master Production Schedule


Measurement System Analysis


Material Requirements Planning


Mean Time Between Failures


Make To Order


Make To Stock


Mean Time to Repair


Non-Value Added


Operation Cost Target


Overall Equipment Effectiveness


Original Equipment Manufacturer


Out of Control Action Plan


One Factor at a Time


Net Present Value


Process Cycle Efficiency




Process Decision Program Charts


Passion for Action


Process Failure Modes Effects Analysis


Project Management Professional


Predetermined Motion Time System


Production Part Approval Process


Process Performance Measure (long term)


Process Capability Index (long term)


Parts Per Million


Production Preparation Schedule


Process Sign Off


Part Submission Warrant


Pass Through Characteristic


Process Window Index


First Quartile


Second Quartile


Third Quartile


Quality Assurance Schedule


Quality Control Manager


Quality Assurance Manager


Quality Function Deployment


Quality Operating System


Quality Problem Report


Measure of the strength of the linear association in a correlation analysis


Risk Based Inspection


Root Cause Failure Analysis


Return on Investment


Return on Net Assets


Risk Priority Number


Rejectable Quality Level


Rolled Throughput Yield


Reasonable, Understandable, Measurable, Believable and Achievable


Substitute, Combine, Adapt / Adopt, Modify / Magnify / Minify, Put to other Uses, Eliminate, Reverse / Rearrange


Strengths, Challenges, Opportunities and Threats Analysis


Suppliers, Inputs, Process, Outputs, Customers


Single-Minute Exchange of Die


Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound


Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound, Evaluated, and Reviewed


Subject Matter Expert


Standard Operating Sheet


Statistical Process Control


Supplier Request for Engineering Approval


Six Sigma Body of Knowledge


Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats Analysis


Turn Around Time


Transport, Inventory, Motion, Waiting, Over-processing, Overproduction, Defects


Thought Process Map


Theory of Constraints


Total Productive Maintenance


Toyota Production System


Total Quality Management


Theory of Inventive Problem Solving


Total Value Management


Upper Control Limit


Upper Specification Limit


Value Added


Variance Inflation Factor


Voice of the Business


Voice of the Customer


Voice of the Employee


Voice of the Process


Visual Quality Document


Web-based Training


Individual and Moving Range chart


Long-term Z-Score


Short-term Z-Score



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