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Six Sigma Defined
Six Sigma is a methodology for reducing defects and improving quality using statistics. It was first developed by Motorola. While it is not technically a Lean tool, some businesses use it along with Lean. The name Six Sigma comes from the statistical term sigma that is used to measure the deviations something is from perfection. Six Sigma comes out to 3.4 defects per million, a number pretty close to perfection. Businesses utilizing Six Sigma aim to reduce the number of defects they experience to this level.
While Lean and Six Sigma both seek to improve processes and quality, Six Sigma focuses more on statistical analysis and reducing the amount of variation in a process.
Some businesses choose to use both Lean and Six Sigma, but the two methodologies are different. The Six Sigma system also employs trained experts to execute changes. These people earn levels of certification such as Black Belts or Green Belts.