Test Your Knowledge of Lean Six Sigma: Part 1

By November 10, 2014 IT-oLogy Columbia

Riverwood Associates

This guest post was written by IT-oLogy partner, Riverwood Associates. 

  1. What is Lean Six Sigma?
    a. A technique for reducing variation
    b. A methodology for eliminating waste and streamlining processes
    c. A system for shifting process mean
  2. Lean Six Sigma can be described as:
    a. A technique to develop business strategy
    b. A process improvement methodology that reduces defects and deviation
    c. A management style
  3. A Six Sigma process is how good?
    a. 6 defects per million opportunities
    b. 99.9% quality yield
    c. 99.9997% quality yield
  4. What is the primary focus of Lean Six Sigma?
    a. Enhancing customer satisfaction / profit by improving quality and process speed
    b. Profit improvement by improving quality
    c. Profit improvement by improving process speed
  5. Lean Six Sigma can be utilized in which industries:
    a. Manufacturing
    b. Service
    c. Healthcare
    d. Technology
    e. Government
    f. Not-for-Profit
    g. All of the above
  6. Lean and Six Sigma:
    a. Should be deployed in a linear fashion (first Lean, then Six Sigma)
    b. Are complimentary and can often be orchestrated in parallel.
    c. Must be applied in different areas of a business (Lean on the factory floor and Six Sigma in the office)
  7. What do Lean Six Sigma terms like Yellow Belt, Green Belt and Black Belt describe?
    a. A Six Sigma area of specialization by a consultant
    b. The management level that must be involved in a Six Sigma project
    c. Roles within a Lean Six Sigma deployment


1. B: Lean focuses on value through the relentless elimination of waste and acceleration in the velocity of processes. Its origins can be traced to Henry Ford of Ford Motor Company and Taiichi Ohno of Toyota.

Value is defined in terms of what is important to the customer. If your customer is willing to pay for an activity you do, that can be considered value-add work. Waste includes activities the customer is not willing to pay for like defects, waiting, and excess processing. Increasing the velocity of processes is not about working faster, but speeding up the entire end-to-end process or lead time. Think of lead time as the time it takes to receive a book once you order it from Amazon or the time from entering a hospital ER to being treated.

2. B: Originated by Motorola in the 1980s, Six Sigma is a well-defined, customer-focused, process improvement methodology. Six Sigma focuses on reducing defects and deviation (or variation).

3. C: A Six Sigma process translates into 99.9997 percent quality or yield. Dial tone of traditional landline phones, for example, was designed to be available 99.9997 percent of the time. This translates into 3.4 defects per million opportunities.

4. A: Lean Six Sigma is not just about saving money. And it is not about just removing waste. When we combine Lean and Six Sigma, we get something powerful — a business improvement methodology that maximizes shareholder value by achieving the fastest rate of improvement in Cost, Quality, Delivery and Customer Satisfaction.

5. F: While Lean Six Sigma may have originated in manufacturing, the principles apply equally to other industries including Service, Healthcare, Government, and Not-for-Profit. Organizations who embrace it include American Cancer Society; AT&T; The Coca-Cola Company; Bank of America; City of Fort Wayne, Indiana; Merck; Starbucks; UPS; and Virginia Mason Hospital.

6. B: Lean and Six Sigma are complimentary and can frequently be implemented in parallel. Contrary to popular myth, it does not require a choice between one or the other. Nor must you implement one or the other methodology first.

7. C: The different color belts refer to the roles within a Lean Six Sigma deployment. The Yellow Belt is the first step for individuals and organizations new to Lean Six Sigma. As an introductory training, it concentrates on the fundamental principles and key tools to start driving improvement. Yellow Belts are skilled in problem solving, critical thinking and leading small projects. The Green Belt is the next step. It includes more in-depth training on tools and techniques. Green Belts frequently lead larger initiatives and support Black Belts. Black Belt certification requires a real commitment in terms of time and effort. It involves more training in advanced statistical tools, project management, and leadership. Black Belts typically must complete a project to be certified.

Now that you have better understanding of Lean Six Sigma, your next question might be, “Why should I enroll in the Yellow Belt Certification?” To find out, we’ll explore this topic in Part 2 in our weekly series by Riverwood Associates.

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