Lean and Six Sigma Competencies as defined by ISO-18404

Lean and Six Sigma competencies

There are three levels of competency for Lean and Six Sigma described in the ISO-18404 standard: Lean Practitioner, Leader, and Expert; and Six Sigma Green, Black, and Master Black Belt. “Lean & Six Sigma” is simply a combination of the competencies of the equivalent Lean and Six Sigma levels, and follows the same belt structure as Six Sigma. For each level, the standard lists competencies, performance criteria, and suggested evidence of understanding, applying, managing, and training the competency.
LeanThere are 18 competencies described for Lean Practitioner, Leader, and Expert. The focus of the Lean Practitioner level is on understanding and applying the Lean Principles, change at individual and organisational level, workplace optimization (see 5S), and analysis and measurement of data and process improvement. At Lead Leader and Expert level there is additional focus on stakeholder management, team engagement, and reporting skills, as well as a shift towards management and teaching of the competencies. The expectations of the three levels are summarized in the table below:
LevelExpectations
Lean Practitioner1. Work to implement improvements in the local area
2. Use workplace layout techniques to improve process flow
3. Be required to lead improvement activities and quantify benefits delivered
4. Coach team members on process improvement methods and activities
5. Run training sessions on Lean techniques
Lean Leader1. Work with the local ‘line management’ to identify and drive improvement within the local environment
2. Use takt times and cycle times to identify appropriate resource requirements
3. Be required to lead improvement activities and quantify benefits delivered
4. Coach Lean practitioners on process improvement methods and activities
5. Run training sessions on Lean techniques
Lean Expert1. Lead improvement initiatives as required
2. Determine if any training activities are appropriate and effective
3. Provide training in Lean approaches to Lean leaders as required
4. Assist in the identification of suitable areas for Lean implementation
5. Assist in periodic reviews of the implementation
6. Provide internal consultancy in Lean
7. Provide support so that improvements identified are realized and maintained
8. Coach and mentor the Lean leaders in the implementation of Lean principles and the selection and use of the techniques required
9. Work regularly with senior management to build Lean awareness, Lean skills and support for implementation
10. Perform Lean audits at site level and use the results to identify future Lean events
11. Benchmarking
12. Instigate/coordinate reward and recognition as appropriate
Six Sigma
There are 23 competencies for Six Sigma in ISO 18404, which are consistent across all the levels. As with Lean, as one progresses to the higher belts there is more attention to specific techniques and to managing and teaching the competencies. We’re not Six Sigma experts so we can’t comment on the appropriateness of the standard in this area, however, the approach and tools and techniques in ISO 18404 have been drawn from ISO 13053-1 and -2.