lean six sigma steps

When you walk into your kitchen to cook dinner, you’re constantly moving, searching for the utensils and ingredients you need…and they seem to be all over the place. You’re wondering: How can I possibly have 12 different pots and pans, yet not find the ONE skillet I need?

Does the painted picture sound familiar? (I can relate!)

And wouldn’t more efficiency—with reduced effort—be nice? (Of course).

This is where Lean Six Sigma comes in. While the popular process improvement tool can be used in your personal life, it is typically applied in organizations all over the world to optimize operational performance. Dr. Serkan Varol, an assistant professor in the College of Engineering and Computer Science at UTC, states, “The aim of Lean Six Sigma is to increase efficiency and productivity without sacrificing quality.”

Earning a Lean Six Sigma certification reaps many benefits, both personally and organizationally. Here are 12 reasons to consider certification and begin you and your organization’s journey to greater efficiency.



When creating this article, I spoke with Kenco Group’s Director of Organization Effectiveness, Rebecca Wilson, on the value of Lean Six Sigma certification. One of the biggest personal benefits she highlighted is potential career advancement. “Getting green belt certification can certainly help your career in terms of advancement, especially if you can lean back on a project,” Rebecca said. Certification boosts your resume, and when you can not only hear but also APPLY what you’ve learned, you set yourself apart from competitors. Rebecca said, “When I interview people, I want to see how they execute the methodology.” The skills you learn will be valued tremendously, and you can continue advancing your skill set by earning higher-level belts.


The earlier kitchen example shows that when you can easily locate the items you need and reduce time wasted, your life is made easier on a daily basis. The same is true for individuals in their workplace. “If you can learn some of the basic lean principles, and that everything has a proper location,” Rebecca said, “then your life is made much easier in many different ways.” It may take time to learn how to use Lean Six Sigma tools like control charts and sampling processes. However, you’ll shorten the time you spend on tasks if you take the time to learn how to use the tools up front.


Unlike some certifications that limit you to one industry, Lean Six Sigma can be applied in industries like manufacturing, healthcare, hospitality, finance, technology, and more. No matter what industry you work in, you can use Lean Six Sigma to create positive change in your organization. Lean Six Sigma certification is also globally recognized, meaning you can move across the world and still use your certification.


Six Sigma Daily writes that “data analytics are used to automate everything from manufacturing processes to handling government paperwork, and ideas gleaned from data help companies innovate production operations, customer service, and more.” As data analysis has become more important in the manufacturing industry, professional needs to learn how to approach data with confidence. Lean Six Sigma equips individuals with a new perspective, evaluating data for trends and inconsistencies. And in turn, if you feel more comfortable with data, you’ll also have…


“Lean Six Sigma uses data to drive your decision making as opposed to making decisions based on feelings,” Rebecca said. “ I always tell people learning Lean Six Sigma that when it comes to data, data doesn’t have feelings. We don’t do things because it feels right or because we believe it’s right. We do things because we know that if we change something, a certain outcome will happen. I tell people that their gut is probably right, but we never want to get into a bad situation because we made a decision based on feelings.” The more backing you have to your decisions, the more confidence you will have in your decisions.


Once you earn your green belt certification, you are certified for life! There are no renewal certification exams or CPEs that must be completed later on. While individuals should definitely continue their education through professional development, those working toward certification are often encouraged by the fact that they won’t be taking an exam once a year for the rest of their lives—especially if they have test anxiety.


two men walking through factory




“Lean Six Sigma is one of the most cost-effective methodologies to improve the operational performance of most organizations,” said Dr. Seong Dae Kim, associate professor in the College of Engineering and Computer Science at UTC. The lean aspect of Lean Six Sigma is focused on waste reduction, and the Six Sigma aspect is focused on reducing variation—finding ways to make processes as consistent and efficient as possible. When waste and variance is eliminated in a company, money will be saved as production and resource costs decrease. “You typically link projects to savings that are achieved at the company,” Rebecca said. “So, for the company, that will always be a benefit of Lean Six Sigma.”


Becoming Lean Six Sigma certified, you will learn how to effectively implement risk management strategies. If you identify risks and potential responses ahead of time, you are more prepared to handle crises’ when they do arrive, creating a smaller margin for error. This also goes hand-in-hand with saving money; the less mess you have to clean up, the less money you spend on messes.


While there are many process improvement methodologies to choose from, Lean Six Sigma has proven to be effective because of the focus on the bottom line. Managers can use data to tangibly prove how Lean Six Sigma processes benefit the organization. For example, they can measure how less product was thrown away because product quality improved, or how overtime was reduced and products were made more efficiently. “When you look at process improvement using Lean Six Sigma, you analyze the baseline, make improvements, and then you must prove that your improvement was the one that made the difference and drove change,” Rebecca said.


Many organizations hold contracts that have a cost savings requirement (for example, reducing the contractor’s invoice by 3% on an annual basis). “If you’re using the appropriate amount of labor already,” Rebecca said, “the only real way to reduce costs is through other means…like process improvement.” When you meet your key performance indicators, you are more likely to retain customers for the upcoming years. And if you continue to implement Lean Six Sigma and go above and beyond, even when things are going relatively well, you will not only retain but also highly impress your customer base.


During the sales process, you can boost client confidence and credibility in your organization by touting that your organization utilizes Lean Six Sigma. There are several aspects of Lean Six Sigma that can be advertised during the marketing process, such as “we have this number of certifications” or “we have this number as our satisfaction rate.” These aspects can position your organization levels above your competition. According to Seong, “Unless the organization requires a high level of innovativeness, making their processes more efficient by eliminating hidden wastes can help the organization become more competitive!” Trust is also built because your customers know you’re striving to provide high-quality services and/or products.


If all employees of an organization use the same process improvement method, then the company will be standardized across the board. When different parts of an organization use different methods in their work, things often get lost in translation. However, when everyone uses the same vocabulary, tools, and approaches to projects, confusion is less likely to be a problem.

Whether you’re looking for career advancement or to simplify your day-to-day activity, to save more in your organization or improve your bottom line—Lean Six Sigma can help you achieve your goal. And who knows, maybe your kitchen will become tidier after you are certified, too!

Many thanks to our guest contributors for sharing their Lean Six Sigma knowledge!

Rebecca Wilson headshot


Rebecca Wilson, PMP

Director of Organization Effectiveness at Kenco Group

Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt




Seong Dae Kim headshot


Dr. Seong Dae Kim, PMP

Associate Professor, College of Engineering and Computer Science

University of Tennessee at Chattanooga




Serkan Varol headshot


Dr. Serkan Varol

Assistant Professor, College of Engineering and Computer Science

University of Tennessee at Chattanooga




The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga offers comprehensive Lean Six Sigma programs designed for working professionals to thrive in today’s changing business environment. The courses draw on what Lean Six Sigma experts practice every day in the field to provide professionals with the most effective ways to learn and implement Lean Six Sigma.

UTC offers the following courses 100% online:

Lean Six Sigma Yellow Belt (Exam Cost Included)

Lean Six Sigma Green Belt (Exam Cost Included)

Lean Six Sigma Black Belt (Exam Cost Included)

To see more lean courses, visit our course catalog.


Marah Whitaker headshot

Marah Whitaker (think Laura with an M) serves as the marketing assistant for UTC Center for Professional Education. During the workday, she spends time writing blog posts, creating content for social media, developing email campaigns, and building relationships with CPE’s customer base. During her free time, you can find her getting lost in a good book, having spontaneous dance parties, playing piano, and going to Buffalo Wild Wings on Wing Night. Professionally and personally, she aspires to live by Mr. Feeny’s advice, “Dream. Believe. Try. Do Good.” She strives to use her passions to serve others and contribute positively to the world around her.

Connect with Marah on LinkedIn.