Continuous Improvement Apprenticeships: Lean Six Sigma DMAIC model

Lean six sigma

The Lean Six Sigma methodology is the amalgamation of two improvement methodologies. Firstly ‘Lean’ which targets the elimination of waste in production and service-based processes. Secondly, ‘Six Sigma’ defects by reducing variation in in a particular business processes. 

Lean has a bias towards action and is underpinned by five core principles. Identifying value, undertaking value stream mapping, ensuring continuous process flow, moving to customer pull process initiation, and pursuing  perfection of the product/service, process and individual.

Six Sigma adopts a bias towards analysis and has two approaches. Firstly DMAIC focuses on the process improvement of existing operations. Whereas DMADV concentrates on process improvement planning for new processes or innovations.

People typically consider Lean Six Sigma projects as efforts to make process improvements. These projects usually follow a five-step problem-solving methodology known as DMAIC (Dee-May-Ic) or DMADV.


DMAIC and DMADV represent structured, customer-focused, data-driven cyclic approaches to problem-solving. The acronyms stand for:

  1. Define / Define
  2. Measure / Measure
  3. Analyse / Analyse
  4. Improve / Design
  5. Control / Validate

Organisations seeking to implement incremental improvements find both models highly suitable, making them valuable in various contexts.

The Purpose of DMAIC / DMADV

Define – The team and sponsor collaboratively establish the scope, goals, financial targets, and operational performance objectives for the improvement initiative driven by the Voice of the Customer.

Measure – collects data to develops detailed understanding of the current process state, collect data on process speed, cost and quality by seeking to expose the underlying causes of problems.

Analyse – Conduct a thorough assessment to identify and validate the key input and output variables (referred to as the Critical ‘Xs’) linked to the improvement goals.

Improve – pilots selected solutions. Using structured Design of Experiments (DoE). Executes a full-scale implementation / Design. The internal specifications are validated and compared to the customer wants & needs so that new process can be subjected to customer feedback before the final product or service is released.

Control – completes the improvement project work and hands-over the improved process to the business owner along with the procedures (Standard Operating Procedures, SOPs) to realise and maintain the gains / Verify – adjusts the processes, develops the metrics and tracks customer product / service feedback.

Benefits of Lean Six Sigma

When implemented successfully, Lean Six Sigma is far more than a waste reduction or a statistical analysis methodology to improve processes. It is one of the foremost methodological practices for increasing customer satisfaction. Improving process capability and improving profits, employee morale and business product / service quality.

Lean Six Sigma has been refined and perfected over many years to enhance operational efficiency, increase productivity and lower operating costs. It can improve get products and services to market faster and with fewer defects, leading to a measureable competitive advantage. 

Continuous Improvement Apprenticeships

The DMAIC model is at the heart of the Business Improvement Apprenticeships. Delivered by City Skills to help businesses enhance their business understanding by means of improved strategic linkages, project management and Lean Six Sigma skills. Used in a manner to improve performance and increase productivity. 

In addition to the government’s funded improvement apprenticeships, City Skills also offer bespoke tailored training packages to ensure your business improvement, project or change management strategies are a success.

The Improvement Leader Apprenticeship is best suited to someone with an undergraduate degree or those in a managerial role. It is perfect for those with a good understanding of their business. Or those who have improvement or Lean and Six Sigma experience under their belt.  

The Improvement Practitioner Apprenticeship suits anyone that has the responsibility or need to support change / project management. As well as those who need to develop their lean and six sigma skills.