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Does Six Sigma really bring huge advancements to software development projects? Are Six Sigma principles as effective in software development as they are in manufacturing?

In the software world they use a different form of Lean called Agile. There are some similarities in the approach but I would characterize Agile and teams of software developers who do short cycles of coding bookended with showing the customer the results. The idea is that the customer has a general idea what they want, but seeing what the team produces at each step might result in new “requirements” which can be addressed in the next cycle. They use simple Kanban Boards to keep track of where each development piece is in the process and they use minimal documentation to stay on track. For a really wonderful comparison of “Lean vs Agile” see this blog by someone familiar with both Lean Six Sigma and Agile.

Bottom line, Agile revolutionized software development so I’d give it a big thumbs up!

Elisabeth Swan

Elisabeth is a Managing Partner at, the co-author of The Problem-Solver’s Toolkit and co-host of the Just-in-Time Cafe. For over 25 years, she's helped leading organizations like Amazon, Charles Schwab and Starwood Hotels & Resorts build problem-solving muscles with Lean Six Sigma to achieve their goals.