Close to 1,200 companies across the S&P 500, S&P 400, S&P 600, and S&P Completion indexes are projected to experience financial losses this year. This trend could potentially impact all businesses, including small and medium-sized businesses like yours.

In your quest to increase profitability, you may come across two widely employed methodologies: Six Sigma vs. Lean Six Sigma. Both improve your operations but take different paths to achieve this goal. Let’s delve into what makes each one unique and how they can contribute to growing your business.

What Is Six Sigma?

Six Sigma is a business improvement method developed by Motorola engineer Bill Smith. It uses a set of techniques to optimize business operations. The goal is to find and eradicate the causes of errors.


Six Sigma projects follow two major project methodologies. Both were inspired by Deming’s Plan-Do-Study-Act cycle.

The first, known as DMAIC, stands for:

  • Define
  • Measure
  • Analyze
  • Improve
  • Control

This is to examine existing processes that are not performing as intended.

The second, called DMADV, stands for:

  • Define
  • Measure
  • Analyze
  • Design
  • Validate

This method caters to creating new processes or products that meet Six Sigma quality standards.

In facilitating these methodologies, Six Sigma lays down a radical framework for business growth. It encourages practical measures to cultivate a culture of productivity, accountability, and a customer-centric attitude.

What Is Lean Six Sigma?

Lean Six Sigma combines the best of Lean manufacturing with Six Sigma. This powerful method boosts business performance by eliminating waste, making production smoother, and improving outcome quality.

Lean Manufacturing

Lean manufacturing is all about cutting out unnecessary steps in production. This results in lower costs, more time saved, and quicker delivery of value to customers.

Six Sigma’s Role

Six Sigma adds a layer of discipline with its focus on data. Its main goals are to decrease defects and make processes less variable.

The Fusion: Lean Six Sigma

When you mix Lean’s focus on streamlining with Six Sigma’s emphasis on precision, you get Lean Six Sigma. This approach doesn’t just speed up processes and cut waste; it ensures the quality and accuracy of what you’re doing.

Six Sigma vs Lean Six Sigma: Differences

Lean Six Sigma cuts waste to speed up delivery and reduce costs. It does this by removing steps that don’t add value.

Six Sigma focuses on reducing errors, making processes more consistent, and using data for decisions.

Time and Implementation

Lean Six Sigma works quickly, targeting fast results. Six Sigma takes longer, needing in-depth statistical analysis for quality improvements.

Customer Value and Satisfaction

While both methodologies aim to improve customer satisfaction, Lean Six Sigma is more directly concerned with enhancing customer value by speeding up processes. Six Sigma seeks to meet customer requirements through rigorous quality control and reduction of errors.


Merely meeting customers’ expectations won’t keep you on top. You have to go beyond. That’s where Lean Six Sigma and Six Sigma step in.

You’ll have standout services and products that appeal directly to your customers. This will lift satisfaction rates to new heights.

Continuous Improvement

Six Sigma’s principles of continuous improvement are engrained in your products as well. With a consistent focus on quality, your team begins producing nothing less than exceptional products. They’ll exceed industry standards and distinguish your brand in the market.


By curbing waste and championing efficiency, you’re tidying the workflow. This can boost your organization’s financial performance. The cost savings that Lean Six Sigma and Six Sigma bring forth drive profit growth.

High Productivity

Six Sigma and Lean Six Sigma spotlight and weed out tasks that don’t contribute to your ultimate goals. This focus on value-added activities paves the way for increased productivity throughout your team. They can concentrate on tasks that genuinely make a difference.

Attaining Operational Excellence

Six Sigma doesn’t just highlight areas to improve; it creates a hunger for perfection. By decreasing defects and maximizing process efficiency, you can elevate all operational aspects to their best.

How to Get Started

Embarking on the journey of Six Sigma or Lean Six Sigma requires a commitment to enhance your business skills. You can kick off your journey by participating in Lean Six Sigma workshops. These will introduce you to the core concepts, tools, and techniques of Six Sigma and Lean Six Sigma.

Training System

The Six Sigma and Lean Six Sigma belts represent levels of certification. Each level plays a critical role in the success of a Six Sigma project.

White Belt

The White Belt is the most basic level of Six Sigma certification. This certificate isn’t restricted to those in quality management or process improvement roles. Employees at all levels of an organization can earn a White Belt.

Yellow Belt

Individuals with a Yellow Belt certification know the specifics of Six Sigma, and how and where to apply it. They have a basic understanding and can support project teams on problem-solving tasks.

Green Belt

At the Green Belt level, individuals gain expertise in leading projects. They’re responsible for process improvement groups. They also assist with data collection.

This certification is suitable for professionals who participate in projects and work under the supervision of a Six Sigma Black Belt. This is also for those who lead improvement teams and coordinate with the project data collection team.

Black Belt

Black Belts lead projects full-time. They’re experts in all aspects of the Six Sigma process. They also provide mentorship to the Green Belts and help with data analysis.

This certification is ideal for leaders and managers looking to carry out quality enhancements at a high level.

Master Black Belt

The Six Sigma Master Black Belt is the highest level. They mentor and train Green and Black Belts, and find projects.

This certification is intended for experienced Six Sigma professionals who are capable of driving large-scale change in their organizations. It’s for high-level managers such as chief executive officers, CFOs, and so on.

Statistical Tools in Six Sigma

Statistical tools are essential in Six Sigma. They help organizations make decisions based on data.

With them, you can solve quality and performance issues. Here are the key statistical tools used in Six Sigma:

Control Charts

Control charts track processes over time. They help teams tell normal variations from signs of actual problems. This is crucial for keeping processes stable and planning for the future.

ANOVA (Analysis of Variance)

ANOVA compares the means of three or more groups to find out if they differ. It’s valuable for spotting key factors affecting quality.

Regression Analysis

This tool shows how changing one variable affects another. Six Sigma uses it to foresee outcomes and pinpoint factors crucial to quality.

It’s instrumental during the improvement phase of DMAIC. Use it to find new ways to enhance processes.

Pareto Analysis

The 80/20 rule indicates that 80% of problems may come from 20% of causes. For the Six Sigma framework, focusing on that 20% helps effectively improve quality.

Hypothesis Testing

Hypothesis testing checks if changes genuinely affect process performance. Evaluating changes before and after implementation ensures that improvements are real.

Design of Experiments (DOE)

DOE explores how various factors impact a process. In Six Sigma, it uncovers optimal conditions for the highest output. It shines in the Analyze and Improve phases by revealing complex factor interactions.

Chi-Square Test

This test compares expected and actual frequencies in categorical data. It assesses the success of changes in Six Sigma, making sure decisions rely on solid statistical proof.

Choosing the Right Projects

The projects of your choice should have clear, measurable outcomes. Metrics could include process cycle time, defect rate, customer satisfaction score, etc.

Clear metrics allow teams to measure progress. Have them available so you can confirm whether implementing Six Sigma has earned you any benefits.

Estimate the Potential Impact

The potential savings or revenue generation should be significant enough to make the project worthwhile. While smaller projects can be useful for training purposes, high-impact projects should be prioritized for Six Sigma or Lean Six Sigma implementation.

Evaluate Access to Data

Successful project execution requires access to enough reliable data to analyze processes. If data isn’t readily available, it may become a roadblock. This can extend timelines or limit the effectiveness of the implementation.

Team Availability

Select projects for which you can assemble a capable team. The team members should have the time to dedicate to the project alongside their regular duties.

Gauge Leadership Support

Secure commitment and support from top management. Their involvement is critical for providing the necessary authority, resources, and motivation throughout the project lifecycle.

More Tips to Improve Your Profits

When it comes to Six Sigma vs Lean Six Sigma, both can boost your business. Six Sigma is great for reducing mistakes and making processes more consistent. Lean Six Sigma is all about speed and cutting out the stuff you don’t need.

These tools can make your customers happier and make your business run smoother. If you want to find more cool business ideas to keep your profits growing, check out our other blog posts. You’re sure to find tips that can make a real difference.