Project Management and Lean Six Sigma have different but complementary certifications. Both certifications are very popular in the business world and add a valuable and desired skill set to the individuals completing these certifications. Project Management Certification is regulated by a governing body called, the Project Management Institute. Six Sigma, however, does not have a parallel governing body . There are a number of organizations who would you like to believe they are the governing body for Lean Six Sigma Certification, but there’s never been any agreement among the competing firms.

Project Management is the application of knowledge, skills, tools and techniques to activities in order to meet the project requirements. Lean Six Sigma can fit under this broad definition, however, Lean Six Sigma certification focuses on the application of the process improvement methodology and tools. An even simpler explanation is this: Lean Six Sigma certification concerns root-cause analysis and problem-solving. Project Management is about managing actions, timelines to meet requirements such as implementing solutions. We see a lot of overlap with Project Management and Lean Six Sigma in the Improve Phase when the team has agreed on a solution and they need to manage the implementation.

Tracy O'Rourke

Tracy is a Managing Partner & Executive Advisor at She is also a Lean Six Sigma Green Belt Instructor at University of California San Diego and teaches in San Diego State University’s Lean Enterprise Program. For almost 20 years, she has helped leading organizations like Washington State, Charles Schwab and GE build problem-solving muscles.