Lean Six Sigma is a set of process improvement tools that applies a disciplined, data-driven approach and methodology for eliminating defects (driving toward six standard deviations between the mean and the nearest specification limit) in any process – from manufacturing to transactional and from product to service. DVIRC offers progressive 6 Sigma training and education with a progressive sophistication of tools and skills—Yellow Belt, Green Belt and Black Belt.

Lean Six Sigma (LSS) combines two proven improvement methodologies – Lean and Six Sigma – into one package to achieve business results greater than either one could generate separately. Developed by the Toyota Corporation, Lean focuses on eliminating wastes that impede process flow, and is a process improvement methodology that has spread into numerous industries beyond manufacturing.  Lean tends to use the Plan - Do - Check - Act (PDCA) approach to process improvement

Six Sigma follows the ‘DMAIC’ philosophy of Define – Measure – Analyze – Improve – Control. This approach ensures that improvement efforts are focused and targeted at specific issues. Understanding the relationship of the inputs and outputs using data-based statistical tools is a key feature of Six Sigma.DMAIC is also a great way to approach any project methodically, whether it is a 'Six Sigma' project or not.

Six Sigma focuses on reducing variation in any process, using statistical tools to make sense of and use data generated in a business for quantifiable and typically substantial improvements. Very often Lean tools are used in the ‘Improve’ Phase of a Six Sigma project to implement the findings developed in the ‘Analyze’ Phase.

Very simply Lean has several facets.  One one hand Lean is a way of looking at anything you do and trying to come up with ways to make it better, faster, cheaper, or more error-proof. 

We think of these as "the tools of Lean".  We set up processes and procedures so they can work for anybody with minimal training. 

Another facet is the people-centric view of including people in the process.  This is the "human side of Lean" and both facets are important.

We include people who work the process in the changes to get their input and buy-in so that the countermeasures applied actually work for the people who need it.  Have you ever had someone observe what you do and then attempt to "help" you by making changes without ever asking you what you need or taking time to understand why things are done a certain way?  It's usually not that helpful unless you can be a part of the problem-solving process from the beginning.

Lean commonly starts with evaluating the current state of the operation or the current condition.  This can be through a tool, like a 5S audit, that shows the 5S condiiton of the operation.  It could also include production metrics, like cycle times, lead times, reject rates, or cost or margins.  Some of these would be identified using a process or Value Stream map.

Once we identify areas of opportunity, we would then examine the operation step-by-step and identify any of the 8 Wastes that are involved. What is Transactional Office Lean?

Then, prioritize the opportunities based on business need, ie. add capacity, reduce cost, improve lead times.

Root cause analysis will help to target the areas to be improved.

Once specific processes or sections of processes have been identified as needing improvement then standard Lean tools, like 5S, Standard Work, or Setup Reduction can be applied as needed to make the activity better.

Lean and Six Sigma belong together just like a hammer and a screwdriver in a carpenter’s tool belt. They are both anchor elements of the Continuous Improvement toolbox and are effective alone and even more effective together. Both are proven CI methodologies, with Lean focused on eliminating waste to improve process velocity and flow, and Six Sigma focused on reducing variation in the output.

In our experience, operating excellence is a key driver of economic margins with analysis revealing that 30-50% of the costs in many organizations today are pure waste. Eliminating waste not only reduces costs, but more importantly allows a business to become faster and much more responsive to its customers, driving revenue growth and increasing profitability. Implementing Lean and Six Sigma helps drive broad cultural change, creates a common operations language and places great emphasis on creating the internal capability required for continuous improvement. Both Lean and Six Sigma have a positive impact on quality, cost reduction, and customer satisfaction.

Lean vs. Six Sigma Summary



Six Sigma

Focus on

Eliminating waste by improving processes

Understanding root causes of problems and reducing variation

Methods Used

Kaizen events and PDCA

Kaizen events & DMAIC Project

Application Areas


Processes and anything that can be measured

Other Tools

Use of charts & diagrams

Hypothesis Testing & Design of Experiments

When do I use Lean?

Lean can be used to remove the blockages (or stopping points) inherent in any process and the emphasis is on making the physical and system changes that promote a controlled process flow. Lean has a proven set of tools for eliminating common forms of waste in all types of organizations. 

If you know what Lean tool to use and where to fix the issue at hand, then just do it!  Don't waste time on proving something you already know.

When do I use Six Sigma?

When you don’t know what to do to fix a problem, basic Six Sigma tools can point you in the right direction. Also, when excess variation makes a process somewhat unpredictable, when failure/scrap rates are higher than expected, or when quality is a recurring issue. Six Sigma can be applied when you have a nagging problem that has not been solved despite previous attempts, and also when you need the discipline of a longer-term project-driven solution, such as dealing with the root cause of a measurable problem before committing capital for new equipment. 

Every Six Sigma project turns into a Lean project during the Improve phase. 

It's not Lean OR Six Sigma, it's Lean and Six Sigma.

A free Lean assessment occurs when one of our experienced consultants goes and observes some or all of the operation and office functions with someone who can answer questions about the area under review.  They compare what they see to a checklist of best practices and highlight any gaps or opportunities that may exist.

Areas assessed include effectiveness of the operation in the following ways:

  • Does it meet customer expectations efficiently and effectively?
  • Do employees know what going on in the operation? 
  • Is the operation profitable?
  • How does the operation cope with changes in schedule or products?

Some answers to these questions can be readily seen in the operation, like workplace organization or the flow of product through the process.  Other items may be less visible, like on-time delivery, setup times, or scrap rates or customer returns.

The initial tour of the operation, can take several hours, depending on size and complexity.  Depending on the desires of the leadership, the consultant can focus on certain areas of the operation.  Some focus areas can include increasing capacity to meet demand, reducing cost to efficiently meet steady demand, and improving outgoing quality.  In reality these goals are intertwined and when the operation makes good product efficiently, cost is reduced and capacity is increased.

After writing the report with scores for the various measuring points and some comments, the consultant will meet with leadership to discuss the ratings of the current condition of the operation and the opportunities that present themselves.  

The assessment is free.  The insights are free. 

Call 267-841-7555 to get started today or click here to contact us!


What are the basic differences between Yellow Belt, Green Belt and Black Belt?

Yellow Belt candidates are given developmental and foundational knowledge to start their journey into Lean/Six Sigma. Yellow Belt candidates gain a foundation in topics such as Lean, PDCA (Plan-Do-Check-Act) and the DMAIC methodology with the ability of practical application and execution. Yellow Belts become a great resource for Green Belt and Black Belt projects due to the foundational skills they receive. Yellow Belt programs are great for entry level employees and/or executive team members looking for an overview of what Lean/Six Sigma can offer their company.

 Green Belt candidates learn project management tools that support both Lean and Six Sigma methodologies, including the DMAIC process. Green Belt candidates build a basic skill set of graphical methods and analysis tools to support departmental or enterprise projects. A heavy emphasis is placed on the understanding of normal distributions and data analysis of ongoing operations. Green Belts are capable of leading smaller project teams or can become a key resource on Black Belt project teams. Common requirements for Green Belts are passing a formal exam and the successful completion of a project with sustained results.

Black Belt candidates build on the knowledge learned in their Green Belt training. Black Belts become key subject matter experts in the Lean and Six Sigma methodologies. They deploy large scale projects with great financial and cultural impact to their organization. Key topics include the instruction of non-normal data analysis and DOE (design of experiments) for advanced process control. Similar to Green Belt, all Black Belts must pass a formal exam and successfully complete a project with sustained results. Training can be delivered on-site or through public workshops.

Software. All CICS Six Sigma training includes statistical software for analysis. Students must complete a project in conjunction with training to demonstrate material application and ROI benefits. QI Macros statistical software is standard for GB training. Minitab software is available at additional cost.

Green Belt-Black Belt Summary


Green Belt 

Black Belt

Time Commitment

8 days of training; 3 coaching days; homework; optional coaching days

10 day training; 3 coaching days; homework; optional coaching days

Project Focus

Student’s area of responsibility

Across functions or departments

Use of Statistics

To understand the effects of variation

To analyze & correct variation

Other Tools

Use of charts & diagrams

Hypothesis Testing & Design of Experiments


Effective team member, works under guidance of Master Black Belt

Direct & supervise Green Belts; focus on effective communication

Investment Average

(for 8-20 people per onsite class-  includes QI Macros)

$25,000 - $30,000

 $25,000 - $30,000


What are some of the content areas for Lean Six Sigma Training?

All Lean and Six Sigma training includes a training project in your organization and coaching to project completion.  More than just another training class, the project and coaching are key to integrating the skills learned in class and providing a positive return on investment for the training.

Some of the topics in Lean training include:

  • What is Lean?

  • Root Cause Analysis Methods

  • How to identify the 8 Wastes

  • 5S and Visual Organization

  • Mapping (VSM, SIPOC, Mind maps, etc.)

  • Standard Work

  • Project management tools

  • Setup Reduction

  • Managing change and Teaming

  • One piece flow and Cellular

  • Improvement & Coaching Kata

  • Setup Reduction

  • Total Productive Maintenance (TPM)

Lean Daily Management

Some of the topics in Green Belt include:

  • The Continuous Improvement Model

  • Root Cause Analysis Methods

  • Role of Green Belt & Team Members

  • Cause & Effect Diagrams

  • Project Charters & Completing an A3

  • Failure Mode Effects Analysis (FMEA)

  • Basic Statistics, Intro to Software

  • Standard Work

  • Using SIPOC Diagrams

  • Meaurement Systems Analysis (MSA)

  • Developing a Problem Statement

  • Setup Reduction

  • High Performance Teams

  • Improvement & Coaching Kata

  • 8 Wastes & Variation

  • Process Capability

  • Mapping (VSM Process Maps, etc.)

  • Statistical Process Control

  • Data Display Graphical Methods

  • Lean Daily Management

  • Types of Data - Continuous vs Attribute

  • Visual Controls and 5S

Some of the topics in Black Belt include:

  • Role of the Black Belt

  • Root Cause Analysis

  • Project Selection

  • Conflict Management

  • Software Review

  • Simple Regression

  • Standard Work

  • Hypothesis Testing

  • Hoshin Kanri

  • Job Instructions (TWI)

  • Single Minute Exchange of Dies (SMED)/Set up Reduction

  • Introduction to Variance Analysis: ANOVA & Design of Experiments

  • Value Stream Mapping

  • Control Plans

  • Communication & Measurement Plans

  • Pull / Kanban

  • Team Facilitation

  • Total Productive Maintenance

  • Basic Statistics

  • Lean Leadership

What about kaizen events?

Very often, successful Six Sigma projects utilize kaizen events to drive the improvements identified in the Analyze Phase of the DMAIC cycle. Kaizen events are usually short-term (less than a week in duration) and have a very specific goal that can be achieved by a team of 5 -7 people. For instance, Six Sigma tools used in the Analyze phase of a project can point to lost capacity from excessive setup (or make-ready) time. The best way to reduce setup time is to perform a kaizen event aimed at setup reduction, which has an initial goal of reducing time lost to setup by 50% or more.

      1. What is Transactional Lean Office?

Transactional Lean, often known as Office Lean, is a method of continuous improvement designed to take typical office processes like sales order processing or accounting processes and make them better, faster or cheaper.

        2. Why do I need to improve office processes?  They’re already pretty good.

Several reasons include the need to keep up with changing customer requirements, governmental regulations, increased and adaptable competition, new products and markets, changes in software, and experienced people moving on or retiring.  

It’s hard to find enough employees to be able to keep up with current workloads, much less increased requirements.  We need to really understand the purpose of any process step and come up with ways to achieve that purpose efficiently and effectively.  

The goal is to improve customer satisfaction and reduce processing time and errors.  We can see this by measuring lead times to complete a process like creating a quote, entering a sales order, placing POs and similar transactional processes.  As a result, customers get what they want faster and more consistently.

        3.  What are the steps towards implementing Office Lean?

  1. Recognize that the business can use this tool to stay competitive.  (Awareness)
  2. See the opportunity (process problem) and write it down so everyone understands the same issue.  (Everybody on same page)
  3. Identify the wastes in the process (8 Wastes)
  4. Determine root cause (Root Cause Tools)
  5. Plan and execute countermeasures (Lean tools)

        4.  What type of business can use this type of improvement?

All types of businesses can benefit:

  1. Back offices of manufacturing companies
  2. Warehouse and delivery operations
  3. Sales offices and distributors
  4. Service companies
  5. Medical clinics and offices
  6. Franchise operations
  7. Retail
  8. Call centers
  9. Insurance

       5.  What are typical improvements?

  1. Organizing needed tools and supplies, including files on a network (5S)
  2. Creating standard procedures for consistent results and ease of training new employees (standard work)
  3. Streamlining processes to reduce redundancies and missed items
  4. Getting work right the first time (% complete and accurate)
  5. Developing workflows that achieve their desired result while taking advantage of software capabilities.

       6.  How do I get started?

Contact us at contact@ciconsultingservices.com or call 267-841-7555. 

Read more about continuous improvement topics at www.ciconsultingservices.com

Developing Leaders thru Coaching FAQ

Do you have talented employees who seem to “get it” but aren’t achieving their full potential?

Perhaps a newly promoted or existing supervisor, manager, engineer, or director who is not meeting expectations? 

Then read on for more information.

1) What is leader coaching?

One-on-one coaching is a proven method to ease the transition for a newly promoted employee or to help someone be a more effective leader.  It provides immediate impact in strengthening the developing leader, which bolsters the department and therefore the overall organization, much faster than learning on the job.

2) Why consider coaching?

It shortens the typical learning curve for employees to handle their new responsibilities, whether it is a new position or a new project.

3) What are the benefits of coaching?

  • Makes employees more effective at their jobs faster.
  • The coach can identify the gaps in the person’s skill set and provide the tools that they can use to manage their areas of responsibility.
  • The coach can help the developing leader, or “learner”, set personal improvement plans and provide guidance on how to achieve those goals in a measurable fashion.
  • The coach acts as a filter for new ideas and screens them for maximum impact.
  • Since the coach is outside the whirlwind of daily activity in the business he or she can provide an objective view of any situation.

4) How does coaching work?

  • The coach and sponsoring leader meet with the learner to agree on initial goals and a timeframe to get there.  Goals may be operational in nature (improve productivity 15%) or could be personal (managing relationships with co-workers).
  • The coach and the learner create a plan to achieve those goals.  
  • Coach and developing leader meet weekly for one hour or by mutual arrangement.  It could be via online meeting after normal working hours as needed.
  • During these regular sessions the coach and learner meet to discuss issues to ensure accountability and progress toward achieving the goals.  
  • The coaching process is flexible enough to deal with alternatives and obstacles as they pop up along the way.

5) How do I get started?

This is not a cookie cutter program.  Contact us at contact@ciconsultingservices.com or call 267-841-7555 to discuss your specific needs.

Read more about continuous improvement topics at www.ciconsultingservices.com