Lean Six Sigma combines two methodologies, Lean and Six Sigma, to help accelerate specific processes so that organizations can solve problems faster and reduce waste, while creating more value for customers. It combines the waste-reducing mentality of the Lean methodology with the defect and variance reduction focus of Six Sigma. Together, Lean Six Sigma creates a powerful methodology for keeping businesses ahead of schedule and under budget, enabling organizations to create processes that support the organization and its employees, while saving money, adding value, and improving productivity.\n\nThe main focus of Lean Six Sigma is to reduce waste by minimizing variability in business processes and creating a continuous flow between each step. The methodology categorizes eight types of waste: defects, overproduction, waiting, nonutilized talent, transportation, inventory, motion, and extra-processing. Once your organization reduces these types of waste, you can solve problems faster, reduce process inefficiencies, and boost productivity.\n\nLean Six Sigma principles\n\nWhile Lean and Six Sigma have their own sets of principles, Lean Six Sigma offers a separate set of principles that combines elements of both frameworks.\n\nAccording to Purdue University, the five main principles of Lean Six Sigma are:\n\n[ Learn more about the top ITSM tools today and how ITSM is evolving in the digital transformation era. ]\n\nLean Six Sigma belts\n\nTo designate an individual\u2019s experience and proficiency in implementing the methodology, Lean Six Sigma uses a similar structure as Six Sigma, which borrows from martial arts. As you work your way up the certification ladder, you\u2019ll earn different belts until you reach the final \u201cChampion\u201d level.\n\nLean Six Sigma certification and training\n\nA Six Sigma certification can be a valuable investment. According to the Six Sigma Council, the average salary for a Lean Six Sigma White Belt is $42,000 per year. That number goes up to $65,000 for Yellow Belts; $85,000 for Green Belts; $95,000 to $110,000 for Black Belts; and $100,000 to $135,000 for Master Black Belts.\n\nLarger enterprises typically have an internal system for certifying employees\u2019 Lean Six Sigma belt levels. Several colleges, universities, and independent organizations also offer certification courses and training for Lean Six Sigma designations, including:\n\nLean Six Sigma tools\n\nLean Six Sigma tools typically focus on streamlining processes, enhancing collaboration, and providing data analysis. Common Lean Six Sigma tools include DMAIC (define, measure, analyze, improve, control), data collection plan, scatter plots, SIPOC (suppliers, inputs, process, outputs, customers), stakeholder analysis, seven wastes, value stream mapping, flow, fishbone diagram, regression analysis, project management, visual workplace, statistical process control, and voice of the customer.\n\nSoftware tools designed to assist with Lean Six Sigma can help you effectively implement the methodology. These solutions typically focus on data reporting and analysis as well as collaboration. Popular software tools include:\n\nHow to integrate Lean and Six Sigma\n\nThe American Society for Quality (ASQ) states that most successful implementations begin with the Lean approach, which boosts efficiency and makes the workplace as efficient and effective by reducing waste and using value stream maps to improve throughput. After that, whatever process problems remain can be addressed with \u201cmore technical Six Sigma statistical tools.\u201d\n\nThe overall idea is to use the best of both methodologies to build a well-rounded IT process improvement strategy. Alone, there are weak areas in both methodologies, but used together it\u2019s easier to fill in those gaps. For example, according to the Business Process Management Institute (BPMI), Six Sigma eliminates defects but won\u2019t show organizations how to optimize process flow. Similarly, the BPMI says Lean offers a shallow view of process defects, lacking the \u201cadvanced statistical tools often required to achieve the process capabilities needed to be truly \u2018lean.\u2019\u201d\u00a0\n\nEvery organization\u2019s strategy will be different when integrating and implementing Lean and Six Sigma. Lean uses less technical tools such as Kaizen, workplace organization, and visual controls, according to the ASQ. Whereas Six Sigma relies on tools such as statistical data analysis, design of experiments, and hypothesis tests. Some organizations might be fine relying on mostly Lean principles, while other companies will need to expand into more in-depth Six Sigma analysis.