Understanding the Basics of Six Sigma - all there is to know

  • Six Sigma
  • Published by: André Hammer on Feb 26, 2024

Interested in learning about Six Sigma but feeling overwhelmed by all the information out there?

Don't worry!

In this article, we will break down the basics of Six Sigma in a simple and easy-to-understand way.

By the end, you'll have a clear understanding of what this methodology is all about and how it can benefit your organisation.

Let's dive in and explore Six Sigma together!

What is Six Sigma?

Six Sigma is a quality management methodology. It aims to improve efficiency and reduce defects in organizations. Originally developed by Motorola, Six Sigma focuses on identifying and eliminating defects. This is done in manufacturing and other processes. Statistical analysis is used to measure and manage process data.

The methodology operates on the principle that standard deviations can determine process capability and quality levels. The goal is to achieve a sigma level of six. This represents only 3.4 defects per million opportunities.

Key methodologies within Six Sigma include DMAIC (Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, Control) for process improvement. Additionally, DMADV (Define, Measure, Analyze, Design, Verify) is used for creating new processes.

Training and certification in Six Sigma are available at different levels:

  • White Belt
  • Yellow Belt
  • Green Belt
  • Black Belt
  • Master Black Belt

Organizations applying Six Sigma principles have seen improvements in quality, efficiency, savings, and customer satisfaction. This is witnessed across various industries. Lean Six Sigma combines Six Sigma with Lean methodologies to further optimize processes.

History of Six Sigma

Six Sigma is a quality management methodology. It started at Motorola in the 1980s and has spread globally since then.

The term "Six Sigma" measures defects in a process. The goal is to have fewer than 3.4 defects per million opportunities.

Initially for manufacturing, Six Sigma now applies to finance, economics, and sociology.

Important milestones include the DMAIC and DMADV methodologies.

Different belt levels show expertise, from White Belt to Master Black Belt.

Six Sigma aims to boost data, efficiency, and customer satisfaction. This leads to savings and better quality control.

Certifications from IASSC, ISO, and others confirm proficiency in Six Sigma.

Benefits of Implementing Six Sigma

Implementing Six Sigma in organisations can bring many benefits. It focuses on reducing defects in processes to enhance efficiency and quality management.

This methodology, developed by Motorola, uses statistical quality control to measure process data in standard deviations called sigma levels. Training programmes like DMAIC and DMADV help employees earn certification belts from White to Master Black, enhancing their Lean Six Sigma skills.

The goal is to achieve sigma levels above six, indicating near-perfect process capability. By improving process efficiency, organisations can save money and improve customer satisfaction.

Training Options

Classroom Training

Classroom training is a helpful tool for implementing Six Sigma in organisations. It allows participants to interact with instructors and peers, creating a collaborative environment for discussion and problem-solving.

This type of training enhances the learning experience, making it easier to understand concepts like sigma levels, process capability, and statistical quality control. Training options range from white belt to black belt certification courses, each focusing on different aspects of Six Sigma.

Well-known organisations such as Motorola, Microsoft, and ISO offer training programs worldwide. Classroom training can enhance efficiency, reduce defects, improve customer satisfaction, and overall quality management.

Investing in Six Sigma training can lead to significant cost savings, process improvements, and a more effective quality management system.

Online Training

Implementing Six Sigma through online training has many benefits for organisations seeking to improve their quality management.

Accessible training options for individuals interested in Six Sigma certification can help reduce defects in processes and operations significantly. Online training covers various sigma levels like white, yellow, green, black, and master black belt, which are crucial for quality management.

Organisations can also gain from learning lean Six Sigma, statistical quality control, and the DMAIC and DMADV methodology, focusing on efficiency and enhancing customer satisfaction.

Online training offers flexibility in location and scheduling, suitable for professionals in finance, systems, economics, and sociology.

Whether through onsite or open enrollment classes, online Six Sigma training offers a cost-effective and efficient way for organisations to improve processes and achieve significant savings.

Blended Learning Approach

A blended learning approach can improve Six Sigma training effectiveness. It combines online and classroom learning for better results.

Participants can learn at their own pace online and have face-to-face interactions in class. This way, they get a comprehensive understanding of Six Sigma methodologies like DMAIC and DMADV.

This approach suits different learning preferences. It accommodates both self-paced online learners and those who prefer traditional classrooms.

Blending online and classroom training can speed up Six Sigma certification. This saves time and resources. Many organizations globally use this method inspired by pioneers like Motorola.

Blended training is vital for quality management. It helps professionals in various industries earn different belt certifications like black, green, yellow, and white belts.

Onsite Training

Onsite training for Six Sigma has many benefits for organisations wanting to improve efficiency and quality management.

Training at the organisation's location helps employees learn in a familiar environment, making it easier to implement process improvements and savings.

Onsite training allows for real-time application of concepts to specific processes and data, leading to more effective learning outcomes compared to classroom or online options.

The advantages of onsite training for Six Sigma include tailored content delivery, immediate problem-solving with coworkers, and addressing defects and process data on-site.

This training method ensures that employees not only understand Six Sigma principles but can also apply them directly to their work, leading to improved process capability and customer satisfaction.

Six Sigma Certification

Importance of Six Sigma Certification

Obtaining Six Sigma certification brings many benefits. Individuals and organizations can improve quality and efficiency. By mastering Six Sigma principles, defects in processes can be identified and eliminated effectively. This can enhance career prospects and create advancement opportunities in economics and finance.

Six Sigma helps organisations achieve cost savings, improve customer satisfaction, and streamline operations. The methodology, developed by Motorola, focuses on quality management through statistical quality control and process data analysis. Tools like DMAIC and DMADV can help achieve process capability within specific standard deviations, ensuring high efficiency and quality.

Certification at different belt levels (Yellow, Green, Black) in Lean Six Sigma or DFSS can have a significant impact on an organization's bottom line. It is a valuable investment in today's business world.

Types of Six Sigma Certifications

There are different types of Six Sigma certifications available. These range from White Belts to Master Black Belts. Each certification level shows a different level of expertise in Six Sigma, quality management, and statistical quality control.

  • White Belts are entry-level certifications. They cover basic Six Sigma concepts and terms.
  • Black Belts are more advanced. They lead and carry out Six Sigma projects in organisations.

Attaining different Six Sigma certification levels has benefits. These include increased efficiency, cost savings, and lower defects in organisations. By getting certifications like Green Belt or Black Belt, people gain skills to analyse data, find defects, and make improvements for better quality management. This can result in improved customer satisfaction, enhanced process ability, and better organisational performance in sectors such as manufacturing, finance, or systems.

Key Methodologies

DMAIC (Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, Control)

The DMAIC methodology in Six Sigma aims to find and fix defects in business processes. It follows a structured approach with five key steps: defining, measuring, analyzing, improving, and controlling processes.

  • Each phase has specific goals:
  • The Improve phase concentrates on implementing solutions to tackle root causes of defects.
  • The Control phase focuses on maintaining improvements through standardization and monitoring.
  • Training employees as Six Sigma White, Yellow, Green, and Black Belts enables organisations to use statistical quality control techniques effectively for process improvement.
  • Pioneered by Motorola, this methodology has become a quality management standard. Different sigma levels indicate process capability and quality standards.
  • By using DMAIC, organisations can save money, streamline processes, and boost customer satisfaction.

DMADV (Define, Measure, Analyze, Design, Verify)

The DMADV methodology is a process improvement framework in Six Sigma. It focuses on designing new processes or products to meet customer needs by getting rid of defects.

It is different from DMAIC, which aims to enhance existing processes. DMADV begins with defining goals and customer needs before moving on to measure, analyze, design, and verify the new process.

Following these steps makes sure that the end result meets quality standards and customer satisfaction.

Implementing DMADV can lead to significant savings, better efficiency, and happier customers. Training in quality management and statistical quality control can help individuals become certified in Six Sigma, opening up career opportunities in various sectors.

Application in Manufacturing

How Six Sigma is Applied in Manufacturing Processes

Six Sigma can be implemented in manufacturing processes. The DMAIC methodology is followed, which stands for:

  • Define,
  • Measure,
  • Analyze,
  • Improve, and
  • Control.

This structured approach helps organizations identify and eliminate defects, ultimately improving quality management.

Specific steps involved include:

  • Training employees on Six Sigma principles,
  • Setting up a project team with individuals holding different belt certifications (e.g., Black Belt, Green Belt),
  • Using statistical quality control methods to analyze process data.

Real-world examples of successful Six Sigma applications can be seen in manufacturing industries. For instance:

  • Motorola used Six Sigma to reduce defects in their products, leading to significant savings and increased customer satisfaction.
  • Companies like Microsoft adopted Lean Six Sigma to improve efficiency and process capability.

Success Stories of Six Sigma in Manufacturing

Six Sigma has helped manufacturing by reducing defects and improving efficiency. This has benefited companies in the industry by enhancing quality management and process capability.

Specific success stories include Motorola. They saved money and increased customer satisfaction with Six Sigma. Training programmes, like Six Sigma belts, have helped train employees in statistical quality control and data analysis.

Lean Six Sigma Integration

Combining Lean Principles with Six Sigma

Combining Lean principles with Six Sigma involves two powerful methodologies. They aim to improve efficiency and quality in organizations.

Lean focuses on eliminating waste and reducing process cycle times. Six Sigma emphasises reducing defects and variations. By integrating these two approaches, organizations can make significant improvements in their operations. This holistic approach addresses speed and quality at the same time.

Integrating Lean principles with Six Sigma offers numerous benefits. It leads to increased process efficiency, reduced defects, and cost savings. By streamlining processes and removing non-value adding activities, organizations can deliver higher-quality products and services. This boosts customer satisfaction and enhances competitiveness in the market.

Lean Six Sigma uses statistical quality control methods and process data to identify and eliminate root causes of defects. This data-driven approach ensures sustainable and measurable improvements. Training employees at different levels (e.g. White Belt, Green Belt, Black Belt) and fostering a culture of continuous improvement drives lasting change. Achieving higher sigma levels in processes becomes possible with this approach.

Benefits of Lean Six Sigma Approach

Implementing the Lean Six Sigma approach has several benefits for organisations. It combines Lean principles with Six Sigma, focusing on efficiency and reducing defects. This integration improves process data and management to enhance quality and savings.

Lean Six Sigma training offers different levels of expertise, such as White Belt, Green Belt, Black Belt, and Master Black Belt. These levels help individuals effectively address defects and improve quality management.

Organisations like Motorola have used Six Sigma to reduce defects significantly and boost customer satisfaction. The methodology uses standard deviations to measure process capability and sigma levels for statistical quality control.

Lean Six Sigma includes tools like DMAIC and DMADV to increase efficiency and savings across various industries, beyond just manufacturing. Obtaining Lean Six Sigma certification helps individuals improve processes and enhance customer satisfaction, benefiting the organisation in the long run.

Tools and Methods

Common Tools and Methods Used in Six Sigma Projects

Common tools used in Six Sigma projects are:

  • Statistical quality control
  • Process capability analysis
  • Process data analysis

Methods commonly employed in Six Sigma projects are:

  • DMAIC (Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, Control)
  • DMADV (Define, Measure, Analyze, Design, Verify)

These tools and methods help in:

  • Providing a structured approach to problem-solving
  • Identifying and reducing defects
  • Improving efficiency

Implementing Six Sigma methodologies can help organisations:

  • Achieve savings
  • Improve quality management
  • Increase customer satisfaction

Six Sigma also values:

  • Training
  • Certification at different levels like White Belt, Yellow Belt, Green Belt, Black Belt, and Master Black Belt

It is a proven methodology successfully used in various industries since Motorola introduced it in the 1980s.

Sigma Levels

Explanation of Different Sigma Levels

Different Sigma levels indicate varying levels of quality and efficiency. In Six Sigma, Sigma levels show how many standard deviations exist between the process mean and the closest specification limit. A higher Sigma level means fewer defects, resulting in happier customers and cost savings.

For instance, a Six Sigma company has 3.4 defects per million, while a Three Sigma company has 66,807 defects per million. Organisations assess their Sigma levels by analysing process data statistically. They use methods like DMAIC (Define, Measure, Analyse, Improve, Control) or DMADV (Define, Measure, Analyse, Design, Verify) to boost efficiency and quality.

Companies offer Six Sigma training and certification, including roles like Black Belt, Green Belt, Yellow Belt, and Master Black Belt. Recognised names like Motorola, Microsoft, and Lean Six Sigma use Six Sigma to enhance processes, increase efficiency, and improve customer satisfaction.


Six Sigma helps organisations improve processes and reduce defects. It focuses on data-driven decision making and aims for near-perfect quality. Trained professionals known as Green Belts or Black Belts usually lead Six Sigma projects. The methodology follows a structured approach called DMAIC (Define, Measure, Analyse, Improve, Control) to identify and eliminate errors.

Readynez offers a portfolio of Six Sigma courses, including the 2-day Lean Six Sigma Yellow Belt, the 5-day Lean Six Sigma Green Belt and the 5-day Lean Six Sigma Black Belt courses and certification programs, providing you with all the learning and support you need to successfully prepare for the exams and certifications.

Please reach out to us with any questions or if you would like a chat about your opportunity with the Lean Six Sigma certifications and how you best achieve them.


What is Six Sigma and why is it important?

Six Sigma is a data-driven methodology aimed at improving processes by reducing defects and variation. It is important as it helps organisations improve efficiency, quality, and customer satisfaction. For example, Motorola reduced errors in its manufacturing processes by implementing Six Sigma.

What are the key principles of Six Sigma?

The key principles of Six Sigma are customer focus, data-driven decision-making, process improvement, and employee involvement. Example: Using customer feedback to identify areas for process improvement and empowering employees to make necessary changes.

How is Six Sigma different from traditional quality management?

Six Sigma focuses on eliminating defects to achieve near-perfect processes, while traditional quality management aims to meet predefined quality standards. For example, Six Sigma uses statistical tools like DMAIC, while traditional quality management relies on techniques like Total Quality Management.

What are the different Six Sigma methodologies and how do they differ?

The different Six Sigma methodologies include DMAIC (Define, Measure, Analyse, Improve, Control) and DMADV (Define, Measure, Analyse, Design, Verify). DMAIC is used for process improvement, while DMADV is used for creating new processes or products.

How can individuals and organisations benefit from implementing Six Sigma?

Implementing Six Sigma can benefit individuals and organisations by improving processes, reducing defects, increasing efficiency, and ultimately leading to cost savings and increased customer satisfaction. For example, a manufacturing company reduced defects by implementing Six Sigma, resulting in higher quality products and reduced waste.

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