Loading...
Kaizen vs DMAIC

Kaizen vs. DMAIC

DMAIC (Define, Measure, Analyse, Improve, Control) vs Kaizen

I’ve heard many people debating whether Kaizen or DMAIC is the better approach, and sometimes the argument gets quite heated, so I wondered, who would win in a fight be between the two approaches?

In the blue corner, we have the Kaizen approach, sponsored by Lean. In the red corner, we have the DMAIC approach, sponsored by Six Sigma:

Let’s look at the main characteristics of each approach: 

Kaizen – a Japanese word that simply means “to make better” Its main characteristics are:

  • Projects are well defined and baseline stats are collected before starting the event 
  • Dedicated resources are subject matter experts (SMEs) and focus on only the event 
  • The solutions should come from the SMEs as they will need to act as champions for the change 
  • Often follows the Demming/Shewhart cycle of Plan-Do-Check-Act 
  • Kaizen event typically lasts 3 – 5 days 
  • Management MUST make resources available from support functions during the event. i.e. HR, Finance, Warehouse, Sales, Marketing etc 
  • Will implement solutions based on 80% confidence instead of 95%  
  • Implementation is completed within the week event but if items fall outside they are generally completed within 20 days 
  • Basic analysis is acceptable with indicative results enough to make decisions

DMAIC –a 5 step process where the 1st letter of each stage spells out DMAIC being, Define, Measure, Analyse, Improve & Control. Its main characteristics are:

  • The existing process is not meeting customer requirements but the reason why is not obvious 
  • Time is spent on analyzing the baseline data to understand current performance 
  • Baseline data is used to prove/validate the benefits once re-measured 
  • Solutions can come from anywhere and may not be popular with employees as may mean significant changes 
  • Solutions require 95% confidence in being correct before implementation 
  • Can be a level of risk associated with the solution that will need to be accepted by the business before implementation 
  • Change is led by a Blackbelt or Greenbelt due to the nature of the data analysis  

Now that we understand the 2 approaches a little better, which continuous improvement tool would win in a fight? Kaizen or DMAIC?  

The answer is both would. It depends on the nature of the fight. Here are 9 ‘fights’ or common circumstances in organisations and which tool we think would win the fight:

Consideration
If YES
If NO
Has the problem been identified?
Kaizen
DMAIC
Is there an urgent solution needed?
Kaizen
DMAIC
Is the source of waste unknown?
DMAIC
Kaizen
Are there dedicated SME’s from the business available?
Kaizen
DMAIC
Do we need to be 95% confident in the solution?
DMAIC
Kaizen
Is the solution likely to be expensive?
DMAIC
Kaizen
Do you have robust baseline data?
DMAIC
Kaizen
Is there a minimal risk to the business?
Kaizen
DMAIC
Is there a minimum requirement for data analysis?
Kaizen
DMAIC

Interestingly, many practitioners have started to plan out their Kaizen events using the DMAIC process steps. This way they ensure that everything is considered. So it may not be a case of Kaizen vs DMAIC after all but instead, Kaizen & DMAIC vs The World.