Lean Manufacturing and Six Sigma Definitions

Glossary terms, history, people and definitions about Lean and Six Sigma

6 M’s

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Used to summarize the six categories that start with M. Memorizing these 6 words can help improve brainstorming activities, so participants do not get too focused on one source of a problem.

  • Machines – the equipment, computers, tools, devices, databases, servers, software and hardware that are needed to do the job
  • Methods – the processes, procedures, policies, work instructions, standards, references, drawings, laws, regulations and any other documentation that impacts the process
  • Materials – the supplies, tools, resources, chemicals, vendors and other items provided to the process, often times outside of the organization
  • Measurements – how the data quality and accuracy can impact the process, assuming that there could be bias, missing, non-random or skewed data that hides the true issues in the process
  • Mother Nature – the impact of the work area or natural environment (nature) on the process, such as noise, temperature, humidity, wind, and air quality.
  • Manpower – the people who do the work, and ways in which they can contribute to the problem or issue that is not due to the other categories. You should assume that people are trying to do a good job, and are not intentionally making mistakes or errors. Often times, People is used instead of manpower to remove the gender implication.

Another version is called 4 P’s (People, Policy, Procedure, and Place).


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