What is Lean/Six Sigma?

What is Lean?  Ask this to five people and receive five different responses.  In short, lean is waste elimination and it is an ongoing process.  You will never have officially completed a lean transformation and it may take years to be successful.  This isn’t a simple statistical model where you input some data and receive an answer.  Nor is it just a set of tools you apply to a company.  A lean transformation involves a culture change and it requires buy-in from the lowest level through middle management and all the way up to the big boss.

Alternatively, no project is too small.  In fact, you should probably start small.

You will also see the term Six Sigma associated with lean.  Same goal, more statistics.

Lean/Six Sigma Certifications

If you are interested in becoming certified, there are a number of options available to you.  A certificate course offers you a structured environment and support from your instructors and coaches in learning how to facilitate a lean transformation.  However, pieces of paper do nothing for an organization.  You can be a Green Belt, Black Belt, Master Black Belt or whatever…who cares about a cert if you do nothing with your knowledge?

Where do I obtain a certification?

Many colleges and universities have certificate programs.  There are also several online programs.  My recommendation is to go through a brick and mortar program where you can receive interaction with your instructors and other students.  Also, no matter what type of location, DO A REAL PROJECT.  A simulated project (as you will find in many online programs) does not begin to touch upon the issues you may have while trying to institute a lean transformation.  A main component of lean is the culture – you can’t simulate that!  There are plenty of forums dedicated to arguing over which online university sucks more and why.  It’s up to you.  I’m not against online certifications if you have a job where you can apply your skills as you learn.  If your employer supports your educational aspirations, then go for the online cert.  It’s all about experience.

How long does this take?

It depends what certificate you want to receive.  A Green Belt takes the least amount of time – maybe six months.  A Black Belt or Master Black Belt might take at least a year.  However, this varies depending upon which program in which you are enrolled.




University Certifications Programs

Arizona State University

Brigham Young University – Hawaii

Boston University

Cal State Fullerton

Case Western Reserve University

Cornell University

Emory University

Franklin University

George Washington University

James Madison University

Kent State University

Louisiana Tech University

The Ohio State University

Rutgers University

San Jose State University

University of Colorado – Boulder

University of Houston

University of Michigan

University of South Carolina

University of Texas

Villanova University


Here’s a great book resource for Lean:



If you know of more courses available (and there are a ton!) please comment!  Or, email DD365 and I will update the post.