Professionals who are looking to start a career in quality management, Six Sigma or Lean Six Sigma are the few certifications that pop up in the mind. Six Sigma and Lean Six Sigma are two different tracks, which often leads to the confusing question – which certification is the best-suited for you? This article will help you to understand the difference between Lean Six Sigma and Six Sigma.

What are the belts?

The generally accepted Six Sigma Belts are Green, Black and Master Black(although some organizations also have white or yellow belts). Unless required by an internal policy, a Green Belt is not required in order to get a Black Belt. There is a wide variation in job duties of the various belts. In general, Green Belts work on Six Sigma projects as a part of their job. Black Belts are the project managers and may only work on Six Sigma projects. The Master Black Belt is the highest level of Six Sigma – they mentor and train others, consult on projects, and can be involved in strategic level work. Black Belts and Master Black Belts can move to different industries and do more soft skill and change management type work in addition to using deeper technical skills.

Lean Six Sigma (LSS) covers the basics of Six Sigma and is augmented by a set of industry proven philosophies, methodologies and tools for driving a cultural transformation focused on reducing and eliminating waste. Outside third-party experts – “Lean Senseis” – can provide companies with unbiased advice and coaching on Lean. Industry specific courses are offered for LSS certifications.

Six Sigma vs Lean Six Sigma

Though there are not many differences between the approaches in Six Sigma and Lean Six Sigma, let us look at the main areas where they both stand out to be distinct:

The main difference is that Lean is a philosophy and Six Sigma is a program. Six Sigma does not attempt at organisational culture change while Lean attempts at reorganising the culture and behaviour among the employees. Thus, Lean Six Sigma is both a program and a philosophy that attempts both.

The focus in Six Sigma is the elimination of errors or defects, which can hinder the ability to deliver high-quality services. The idea of Six Sigma is to reinvent the process so as to limit the process variations to 3.4 defects per million

Lean Six Sigma focuses both on the elimination of waste and speeding up of the process. There are 8 type of wastes according to the lean system: Waiting, Overproduction, Rework, Motion, Over Processing, inventory, Intellect and Unnecessary. It works to reduce the process variation, resulting in a quicker cycle of iterative improvements.