Lean Six Sigma: A Holistic Approach to Process Improvement

Insights | 08 March 2018

Lean thinking embodies concepts of value, elimination of waste, and flow. Six Sigma is typically known for focussing on reducing variation and errors. By merging these philosophies, Lean Six Sigma provides a holistic approach to process improvement.

But what does this mean for an organisation?

Today, many organisations are finding themselves in an environment impacted and disrupted by advances in technology, and by customers demanding good service, high quality products and short response times. This applies to the full spectrum of organisations from technology and commercial, to services organisations, healthcare and the public sector.

So, the mantra becomes we need to do ‘more with the same’, or even, ‘more with less’.

Getting to ‘more with less’

An organisation embracing operational or business excellence focusses on:

  • Continuously improving processes, continuously simplifying and aligning them.
  • Continuously innovating core competencies, products, processes and services.
  • Applying fast decision making, welcoming change and coaching people to achieve better results.
  • Delivering to customer expectation on time, cost-efficiently, and without failures.

Lean Six Sigma provides a holistic mindset, with a wealth of tools and skills to navigate continuous improvement and the journey to operational excellence. It is not, however, something that can be understood or reached overnight. To be successful, organisations need people with the appropriate understanding of Lean Six Sigma – there will be a need for those with a basic awareness of Lean Six Sigma as well as practitioners and experts in the principles, practices and tools.

Starting the Journey: Lean Six Sigma Yellow Belt

Yellow Belts have an overall awareness and an understanding of the basics of Lean Six Sigma. When organisations embrace a continuous improvement and business excellence approach, it is valuable to have a common understanding of the Lean Six Sigma mindset and tools. Some Yellow Belts will go on to further training (e.g. Green Belt), whilst for many this level is just right (‘fit for purpose’).

Yellow Belts are valuable team members in Green or Black Belt projects as they have an appreciation of Lean Six Sigma practices. Some Yellow Belts will run Kaizen (small continuous improvement) projects.

Continuing the Journey: Lean Six Sigma Green Belt

Green Belts are specialists in executing Lean Six Sigma projects – this is reflected in the training and experience required. This level balances specialist expertise, statistical analysis and structured Lean Six Sigma methodology to achieve significant improvements in performance and quality. Typically, Green Belts work within one department, process or area as opposed to across departments and areas.

Green Belt training delves into a deeper understanding of Lean Six Sigma, exploring how to develop reliable and innovative products that meet customer expectations.

“…It is important that improvement programmes address both the visible and the invisible aspects. The visible aspects are the activities and lean six sigma tools, while the invisible are strategy, leadership and employee engagement.”

LSSA©, Theisens et. al.

Are you ready take your training to the next level? Join us for our next Lean Six Sigma Green Belt training or call us to speak to a professional development consultant on 1300 70 13 14.

About The Author

Tracey Copland, Head of Best Practice at PM-Partners group

Tracey has been involved in management, finance and business consulting including Portfolio, Programme & Project management for 20+ years. Together with her skills and experience, Tracey is a flexible professional seeking to achieve a high work standard, focussing on value-add.

Having been with PM-Partners group for 15 years, Tracey has held roles including Consultant/Trainer, Head of Training and currently, Head of Best Practice. Tracey has provided training and consultation services to clients in both the public and private sectors, across various disciplines and at all levels including Project, Programme, Portfolio and Change Management, and Agile practices.

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