16.660J | January IAP 2012 | Undergraduate

Introduction to Lean Six Sigma Methods


Course Meeting Times

Lectures: 1 session / day for 3 days, 8 hours / session

Course Description

This course introduces the fundamental Lean Six Sigma principles that underlay modern continuous improvement approaches for industry, government and other organizations. Lean emerged from the Japanese automotive industry, particularly Toyota, and is focused on the creation of value through the relentless elimination of waste. Six Sigma is a quality system developed at Motorola which focuses on elimination of variation from all processes. The basic principles have been applied to a wide range of organizations and sectors to improve quality, productivity, customer satisfaction, employee satisfaction, time-to-market and financial performance.

The curriculum corresponds to 24 hours spread over 3 days. The almost 600 slides given to the students, video tapes of many of the lectures, and some of the active learning exercises are available on MIT OpenCourseWare. Fifty percent of the contact hours involve hands-on exercises and simulations, most of which are not available from OCW. An instructor’s disk of the complete curriculum is available for purchase from the LAI Educational Network. Other course supporting materials, including the Lego® enterprise simulations, are also available for purchase. The course was originally developed for an aerospace audience at the upper class undergraduate level. Over 10 years, it has been refined and delivered to over 1,600 students from undergraduate through professional graduate degree programs, and to seasoned industry veterans from a diverse range of application domains. It assumes no prior knowledge of the subject material. For those interested in taking the entire course, including all of the active learning exercises, it is available through MIT Professional Education for interested groups.

Biographies of the course instructors can be found below:

The following paper provides an overview of the course history, content, and outcomes.

Murman, Earll, Hugh McManus, and Annalisa Weigel. “The LAI Lean Academy Experience: Introductory Lean Six Sigma Curriculum.” (PDF) Presented at the Industrial and Systems Engineering Research Conference, May 21, 2013.


Day 1
1-1 Why am I here?
1-2 The start of your Lean journey
1-3 Lean thinking
1-4 New Balance® plant tour
1-5 People: The heart of Lean
1-6 Value stream mapping basics
Day 2 Enterprise Option
2-1 Lean enterprise simulation, segment I
2-2 Lean supply chain basics
2-3 Lean enterprise simulation, segment II
2-4 Lean engineering basics
2-5 Lean enterprise simulation, segment III
Day 2 Healthcare Option
2-1 Lean healthcare simulation I: Baseline performance
2-2 Continuous process improvement
2-3 Lean healthcare simulation II
2-4 Improving the enterprise
2-5 Lean healthcare simulation III
Day 2 Common
2-6 Accounts payable I: Case study introduction
Day 3
3-1 Accounts payable II: Value stream analysis
3-2 Variability simulation
3-3 Guest speaker, Susan Sheehy
Lean for Healthcare: An Overview
3-4 A3 thinking
3-5 Quality tools and topic
3-6 Six Sigma basics
3-7 Enterprise speakers

  • Dick Lewis: Leading improvement across a complex aerospace enterprise
  • Eric Dickson: Applying Lean in an academic medical center: Lessons learned
  • Clay Jones: Leading Rockwell Collins’ Lean transformation