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Yellow Belt Glossary - GoLeanSixSigma.com

An Easy-to-Understand Lean Six Sigma Yellow Belt Glossary

The web is overflowing with confusing Lean Six Sigma resources. Our Yellow Belt glossary provides clear, straight-forward language, organized for quick access so you can easily find and understand terms that you’re searching for!

You can view our full Lean Six Sigma Glossary here.


5S: 5S is a workplace organization technique composed for five primary phases: Sort, Set In Order, Shine, Standardize, and Sustain.

5 Whys: 5 Whys is a simple but effective method of analyzing and solving problems by asking “why” five times, or as many times as needed in order to move past symptoms and determine root cause. This approach is used in tandem with Cause-and-Effect or Fishbone diagrams.

8 Wastes (aka Muda): The 8 Wastes are Defects, Overproduction, Waiting, Non-Utilized Talent, Transportation, Inventory, Motion, and Extra-Processing. These are a list of the most common reasons for excess cycle time in a process. The idea of process improvement is to identify and remove all forms of waste from a process in order to increase efficiency, reduce cost, and provide customer value.

Analyze Phase: The Analyze Phase is the third phase of the DMAIC process, and focuses on identifying the root cause (or causes) of a process problem. The Analyze Phase requires data and knowledge gleaned from the previous Define and Measure phases of DMAIC. This phase focuses on analysis of the data and the process. In terms of the data focus, statistical analysis is a cornerstone of Analyze, ensuring that potential root causes are not only validated but significant enough to merit attention. Methods and tools used include Process Maps, Charts and Graphs, Hypothesis Testing, and Value-Added Analysis.

Approvals: An approval indicates a process step that requires time and attention from someone in an organization to sign or provide an “okay” before the process can continue. This adds to the waste of “Waiting,” generally does not add value and frequently becomes a “rubber stamp” type activity when the approver does not have the time to pay close attention. The fewer approvals required, the faster a process can flow.

Average (aka Mean): The Average is one of the measures of “central tendency” in a data set. Calculating an average involves determining sum of a list of numbers and then dividing the sum by the number of numbers in the list. Averages don’t take process variation into consideration.

Baseline Measures: Baseline measures are data collected to establish the initial capability of a process to meet customer expectations. By collecting this data prior to making any changes to the process it is possible to determine if solutions implemented later on have the desired impact.

Batching: Batching is the practice of making large lots of a particular item to gain economic efficiencies. Although the assumption is that it increases efficiency, batching increases total cycle time and increases the waste of waiting both internally and for the customer. Batching is considered the opposite of the concept of “Single-Piece-Flow” where the goal is to use the smallest batch possible with the optimal size being one unit.

Black Belt: A Black Belt is the second highest level of training for a Six Sigma practitioner; Master Black Belt is the highest. A Black Belt devotes 100% of their time to Six Sigma and focuses the execution of specific Six Sigma process improvement projects. In addition to project work, they are often assigned as a mentor to one or more Green Belts. To become a Black Belt, please register for our Lean Six Sigma Black Belt Training & Certification course.

Bottleneck: A Bottleneck is a step in the process where the process is limited in the volume it can handle. This is often the result of specialization, task imbalance or other constraints on capacity. Bottlenecks constrain the process and limit the ability of the process to flow at the rate of customer demand.

Brainstorming: Brainstorming is a free-thinking group method for generating ideas to handle a challenging situation. An underlying maxim for Brainstorming is “from quantity comes quality.” The primary objective of Brainstorming is to encourage innovation and out-of-the-box thinking. To achieve this goal, the Brainstorming session is performed with no editing: analysis, discussion, and criticism are allowed only after the session.

Business Case: A Business Case is a broad statement that helps sell or justify a specific improvement opportunity to the senior leadership or stakeholders in an organization. This is generally part of a Lean Six Sigma Project Charter. A Business Case defines how the customer is negatively impacted, how long they’ve been impacted, and the benefits of making of an improvement–or, conversely, the risks of not doing so. This is done by tying the improvement opportunity to the organization’s business objectives, which include their overall business strategy, customers, and values.

Cause and Effect Diagram: A Cause and Effect Diagram is structured brainstorming tool designed to assist an improvement team in listing potential causes of a specific effect. It is also known as an Ishikawa Diagram, for its creator, or a Fishbone Diagram, for its resemblance to the bones of a fish. Causes are often grouped into major categories, which are classically defined as the 6 Ms: Man/Mind Power (people), Methods (processes), Machines (technology), Materials (raw materials, information, consumables), Measurements (inspection), and Milieu/Mother Nature (environment). An additional 2 Ms are also sometimes used: Management/Money Power and Maintenance.

Champion (aka Sponsor): A Champion is someone in a leadership position who helps a Green Belt or a Black Belt secure resources and overcome departmental barriers in pursuit of project goals. This person has “skin in the game,” cares about the process being improved, and regularly meets with and supports team leads.

Continuous Improvement: Continuous Improvement broadly describes ongoing, incremental efforts to improve products and processes. Continuous Improvement with Lean Six Sigma utilizes a data-driven approach and process analysis to solve problems.

Control Phase: The Control Phase is the last phase of DMAIC, and ensures that improved processes continue to work predictably and meet the customers’ expectations. In short, Control ensures any gains are maintained. During this phase the documentation is finalized, monitoring plans are put into place and response plans are designed in the case that process performance falls below acceptable levels.

Control Plan: The Control Plan is a guide to continued monitoring of the process, and the response plan for each of the measures being monitored. These three elements have been initiated earlier in the process, but in the Control phase, the monitoring is reduced to key input, process and output measures that will provide critical leading and lagging indicators during the project tracking period after implementation.

Cross-Training: Cross-Training is training different employees to perform different tasks outside of their original role. For example, training Worker A to do Worker B’s job, and training Worker B to do Worker A’s job. Cross-Training improves the flow of the process, enables the sharing of best practices and increases flexibility in managing the workforce.

Customer: Broadly defined, a Customer is any person (or group of persons) that receives products or services. In the context of Lean Six Sigma, a Customer refers to anyone who receives the output (information, goods, services, etc.) of a process. Therefore, depending on the process, a Customer can include persons both internal and external to the organization or business.

Customer Focus: A Customer Focus is an emphasis on understanding the needs of a customer; in short, a Customer Focused organization understands what customers really care about. A proper Customer Focus results in increased satisfaction by identifying/anticipating their needs, adding value, and eliminating defects and waste.

Customer Requirements: Customer Requirements are the needs and expectations of the customer, discovered through a measurable, data-driven (“hard evidence”) approach.

Customer Value: Customer Value is a term that underlies the fact that the value of any given process step or output is defined by the customer. They key is to define what is of value to the customer and focus the process outputs and improvement efforts to provide that value.

Cycle Time: Cycle time is the measurement of the time elapsed from the beginning of a process or a step to its end. Reduction of cycle time focuses on bringing products and services to market faster in order to provide value to customers.

Data Analysis: Data analysis is the practice of both determining how to display data and then the interpretation of the resulting data displays. Typical charting and graphing tools include Histograms, Time Charts, Pareto Charts, Control Charts, Scatter Plots as well as Bar charts and Pie charts. This analysis of displayed data is often a key step to finding clues to process issues.

Data Collection Plan: This is a well thought out approach to data collection that includes information around where to collect data, how to collect it, when to collect it and who is responsible. This plan is prepared for each measure and includes helpful details such as the operational definition of the measure as well as any sampling plans.

Decisions: A decision represents a step in a process requiring time, expertise and a determination before moving forward. Decisions often add to the waste of “waiting” especially when only certain process participants have the expertise or permission to make the decision. The fewer decisions required in a process, the faster it flows.

Defect: A Defect is any process output, product, or service that does not meet customer requirements. Defects are one of the 8 Wastes.

Defective: Defective is the term applied to any process, product, or service with one or more defects.

Define Phase: Define is the first phase of the DMAIC method, and involves defining the problem or opportunity, determining the voice of the customer/customer requirements, and outlining the project purpose/scope. This foundational phase paves the way for an improvement team to narrow and describe exactly what is being targeted for improvement. The goal(s) set during this phase define when a project can be considered successful.

DMAIC: DMAIC is a methodology for improving existing processes. DMAIC stands for Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, and Control.

Documentation: Project Documentation is the deliberate preservation of process improvement work. Key outputs such as process charters, process maps, customer requirements, and charts and graphs are captured for multiple purposes; as a display to leadership, as educational tools for process participants, as guides for team leaders and as a way to transfer best practices.

Downstream: Downstream refers to any processes or activities that occur after a given process.

Effectiveness: Effectiveness is a measurement that refers to how well a process output meets customer requirements. It is tied closely to customer satisfaction. Effectiveness is measured using both value-adding and non-value adding activities.

Efficiency: Efficiency measures the amount of resources used in maximizing the output of a process.

Extra-Processing: Extra Processing refers to the concept of adding more features or producing a product or service of higher quality than required by the customer. Extra-Processing is one of the 8 Wastes.

Fishbone Diagram: A Fishbone Diagram is structured brainstorming tool designed to assist an improvement team in listing potential causes of a specific effect. It’s name derives from its resemblance to the bones of a fish. It is also known as an Ishikawa Diagram, for its creator. Causes are often grouped into major categories, which are classically defined as the 6 Ms: Man/Mind Power (people), Methods (processes), Machines (technology), Materials (raw materials, information, consumables), Measurements (inspection), and Milieu/Mother Nature (environment). An additional 2 Ms are also sometimes used: Management/Money Power and Maintenance.

Flow: Flow is the ideal state of processes such that units and services move through each process step at the rate of customer demand. This means there are no bottlenecks or other forms of waste in the process.

Flow Chart (aka Process Map): A Flow Chart is a step-by-step diagram that shows the activities needed to complete a process. Creating a Flow Chart is one of the first steps in a Lean Six Sigma process improvement project.

Goal Statement: A Goal Statement states the desired results of a process improvement project. It is a fundamental part of any Project Charter. Goal Statements should be clearly and precisely written, with specific, measurable goals (e.g., Improve delivery time by 25%). Goal Statements are focused exclusively on the goal: they should avoid mention of causes or solutions.

Green Belt: A Green Belt is Six Sigma practitioner trained in DMAIC. They assist Black Belts and Master Black Belts in process improvement projects. Green Belts are generally not dedicated 100% to improvement projects but spend at least 20% of their time either participating on or running project teams.

Handoff: A Handoff is when a product or item “changes hands” between individuals or departments. Handoffs are prone to adding defects to a process.

Histogram: Histograms are frequency charts. In Lean Six Sigma, they show the distribution of values produced by a process. In other words, a histogram is a visual display of how much variation exists in a process.

Improve Phase: the Improve Phase is the fourth phase of the DMAIC process and focuses on identifying opportunities for improvement based on the discoveries uncovered in the data and the process in the Analyze Phase. Once potential solutions are identified, the are evaluated and selected for implementation. Risk assessment, piloting and verification that the changes had the desired impact take place prior to moving on to the Control Phase.

Input: An Input is a resource (product, service, data, labor, etc.) that is added to a Process by a Supplier. Inputs are the second step of SIPOC which is a high-level map of the process. Inputs are often measured in terms of volume and quality to understand their impact on a process.

Input Measures: Input Measures are measures that describe an Input; they are generally related to the quality or quantity of the Input as dictated by the Supplier.

Inspections: An inspection is a process step that has been created to determine if a product or service has any errors. If the inspector detects a mistake this leads to a rework step. Inspection adds time to a process and rework adds cost. The key is to mistake-proof the process such that inspections and rework are not necessary.

Inventory: Inventory is the materials, parts, or units sitting unused in a process. Excess inventory before a process step indicates a bottleneck and maintaining more inventory than required ties up capital and takes up valuable storage area. Inventory is one of the 8 Wastes.

Lead Time: Lead time is the measure of the cycle time from the moment a customer places an order to the moment they receive the desired goods or services.

Lean: Lean is a systematic method for the elimination of waste from a process with the goal of providing what is of value to the customer. Much of what constitutes Lean stems from tools developed at Toyota while creating the Toyota Production System. Although the Lean roots are in manufacturing and production environments, it is widely applied to transactional processes as well.

Lean Six Sigma: Lean Six Sigma is the name given to the combination of the top two process improvement methods, Lean and Six Sigma. Lean traditionally focuses on removing waste from the system with the objective of a streamlined process. Six Sigma focuses on reducing variation in the system with the focus on increasing predictability. Both models focus on the satisfying the needs of the customer by incrementally improving processes. The combination follows the DMAIC (Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve and Control) model and combines the best tools and concepts of both Lean and Six Sigma.

Master Black Belt: A Master Black Belt (aka a Coach) is the highest level of training for a Six Sigma practitioner. Master Black Belts not only guide improvement teams, but are responsible for identifying improvement projects.

Mean (aka Average): The Mean is one of the measures of “central tendency” in a data set. To calculate the mean is to determine sum of a list of numbers and then divide the sum by the number of numbers in the list. Means don’t take process variation into consideration.

Measure Phase: The Measure Phase is the second phase of the DMAIC process. During this phase the effort is to determine key ways to measure the process, define each of the key measures and then form a plan to detail who will collect the data, in what quantity and where. This data used as a baseline of for the process and is then displayed and studied in the Analyze Phase.

Median: The Median is the middlemost point in a data set. It divides a data set in half by separating the lowest 50% of the values from the highest 50%. It is one of the measures of “central tendency” in a data set.

Mistake Proofing (aka Poka-yoke): Mistake-Proofing, also known as Poka-yoke, means to consciously and diligently try to eliminate defects by preventing human errors before they occur or create alarms to warn of potential defects.

Monitoring Plan: A Monitoring Plan is a detailed data collection plan that supports the Control Plan. It lists the measure, the targets for each measure, how the measure will be checked, how often the measure will be checked, and who will check the measure.

Motion: Motion refers to the movement of employees involved in a given task. Motion refers only to the movement of the person as opposed to the unit and excess motion increases cycle time. Motion is one of the 8 Wastes.

Muda (aka Waste): Muda is the Japanese term for “waste” which refers to anything in a process that does not add value from the customer’s perspective. The 8 Wastes are a comprehensive list of the most commonly found wastes in a process.

Non-Utilized Talent: Non-Utilized Talent refers to the concept that employees are not being utilized to their full capability or, conversely that they are engaged in tasks that would be more efficiently done by someone else. Non-Utilized Talent is one of the 8 Wastes which is also known as the waste of intellectual capital.

Operational Definition: Operational Definitions describe the terms used within measures such as “accurate” or “complete” and if it’s a time-based measure, they include the stop and start points. These detailed description of each measurement are designed to ensure that each measurement is interpreted the same way by different people. They are key to insuring the integrity of any measurement system.

Output: An Output is any resource (product, service, data, labor, etc.) that is the result of a process. In a Process, the Output occurs at the end. Likewise, an Output is the last step of SIPOC.

Output Measures: Output Measures are measures that describe an Output.

Overproduction: Overproduction means producing something faster or in more abundance than needed. Overproduction is one of the 8 Wastes.

P Chart: P Charts are Control Charts designed for tracking the proportion defective for discrete data. These charts require both the total population as well as the count of defective units in order to plot the proportion.

P-Value: The P-Value is stands for “probability” which translates to “likelihood.” It indicates how likely it is that something has happened to random chance. As an example, say someone conducts a hypothesis test to see if a process has truly improved. If the resulting P-Value is less than .05 then there is a less than 5% likelihood that the difference in the process is due to random chance. This means there’s a 95% likelihood that the process has truly improved. To learn more about P-Values, please register for our Lean Six Sigma Black Belt Training & Certification course.

Parallel Processing: Parallel Processing indicates that two separate activities are taking place at the same time. This is a common improvement technique used to reduce the overall cycle time of any given process. This is the opposite of linear or serial processing.

Pareto Chart: A Pareto Chart is a quality chart of discrete data that helps identify the most significant types of defect occurrences. It does this by showing both frequency of occurrences (bar graph) and cumulative total of occurrences (line graph) on a single chart. The type of occurrences are organized on the X-Axis from highest to lowest frequency. Respectively, the left Y-Axis shows frequency of occurrences, while the right Y-Axis shows the total percentage.

Pareto Principle: The Pareto Principle is a quality principle that asserts that the majority of effects come from a minority of causes. AKA the 80/20 rule, 80% of effects come from 20% of causes.

Poka-yoke (aka Mistake Proofing): Poka-yoke is a Japanese term (poka: mistakes; yokeru: avoid) that means to mistake-proof a process. The goal is to consciously and diligently try to eliminate defects by preventing human errors before they occur or create alarms to warn of potential defects.

Problem Statement: A Problem Statement is a clear, concise statement about the symptoms of problems being encountered in a process. Included in the Charter, a Problem Statement avoids discussion about causes or solutions; its only goal is to state problem symptoms and their measurable effects.

Process: A Process is a stepwise combination of people, tools, materials, and methods where an Input is converted into an Output. A fundamental term, the goal of any Lean Six Sigma project is to streamline Processes by eliminating waste. This results in increased revenue and improved customer satisfaction.

Process Analysis: This a a broad concept that entails the study of detailed process maps. “As Is” process steps are scrutinized for bottlenecks, rework loops, missed handoffs, redundancy and other inefficiencies as potential root causes of defects and waste. Analysis of the process and data are the two main avenues used during root cause analysis.

Process Improvement: Process Improvement refers to the continuous, gradual reduction of defects, errors, costs, and wasted time in a process.

Process Improvement Project: A Process Improvement Project is an effort to incrementally reduce cost, cycle time, variation or defects within a process. These efforts involve a problem where the root cause and solution are unknown. These efforts can be addressed by DMAIC (Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve & Control) or PDCA (Plan, Do, Check, Adjust) improvement methods.

Process Map: A Process Map is a step-by-step diagram that shows the activities needed to complete a process. Creating a Process Map is one of the first steps in a Lean Six Sigma process improvement project.

Process Measures: Process Measures are any and all measurements of a Process. Process Measures are critical to understanding not only the baseline state of a Process, but if (and if so, how much) improvements have been made due to Lean Six Sigma project.

Process Time: Process time is a measure of the time a product is actually being worked on in a machine or by an employee in a work area.

Project Charter: The Project Charter is a living document that outlines a process improvement project for both the team as well as leadership. Teams use the charter to clarify the process issue being addressed, the reason for addressing it and what “success” looks like for those working on it. It’s also used to clarify what’s not being addressed. It is the first step in a Lean Six Sigma project, and therefore takes place in the Define phase of DMAIC. The Project Charter is periodically reviewed and refined throughout the project. The elements of a Project Charter generally include the: Business Case, Problem Statement, Goal Statement, Team Members/Roles, and Constraints/Boundaries, and Project Scope.

Proportion Defective: Proportion Defective is the fraction of units that contain defects. Proportion Defective is a percentage value. It is calculated by dividing the number of defective units by the total number of units, and then multiplying by 100 to get a percentage.

Pull: Pull systems refer to the goal of having units “pulled” through the process at the rate of customer demand. The opposite of a Pull system is a “Push” system in which goods or services are prepared ahead of time potentially resulting in excess inventory or increased waste. JIT (Just In Time) and Kanban are part of Pull systems.

Push: Push systems refer to processes that rely on forecasting or the practice of creating excess goods and services to maintain a buffer. This method of meeting customer demand can result in unused goods and wasted labor. The goal of Lean Six Sigma is JIT (Just In Time) or Pull system.

Quality: Quality describes how well a process consistently meets customer requirements.

Range: The Range of a data set is determined by subtracting the lowest value or minimum from the highest value or maximum. Range is a measure of “spread” in any data set.

Red Tag: A Red Tag is a labeling tool used in the Sort Phase of a 5S as employees try to determine what’s necessary in a given workspace. They the place questionable items into a holding area and attach a red tag or label to each item. The information on a Red Tag can vary, but the goal is to determine if anyone thinks the item is necessary and, if so, in what quantity. Items are “red tagged” for a limited period of time and then given away, sold or recycled resulting in a less cluttered and more organized work area.

Redundancy: Redundancy is when the same steps are done more than once in a process. To reduce Redundancy, look for limitations causing multiple entry of the same data or materials.

Response Plan: The response plan for a process establishes, for each measure being monitored, a threshold or trigger level for that process measure. When a process performance hits a trigger level, the response plan details what immediate and long-term actions must be taken to return to and maintain the desired performance.

Rework Loop: A Rework Loop is a situation where a step in a process is repeated in order to correct a defect; also known as backtracking. Rework Loops are work that must be done over and over. They often become an accepted part of the process as people get used to them over time. To find Rework Loops, look for places where large amount of work move back in the process to be fixed. Rework Loops are Non-Value Adding Activities and are undesirable, as they add to cost and cycle time.

Root Cause Analysis: Root Cause Analysis is the method of finding the source of process problems by uncovering their origin or “root.” This is in contrast to focusing on fixing the symptoms or effects of process issues. If a “root cause” is removed or neutralized then the undesirable effects will no longer impact the process in question.

Scope: Scope is a clear statement that defines what is included (and, by exclusion, what is not included) in a Lean Six Sigma process improvement project. Scope is therefore part of the Define phase in DMAIC and is defined in the Project Charter. In other words, Scope sets the limits of what a process improvement project can accomplish.

Set in Order (aka Seiton): Set in Order, also known as “Seiton,” is the second step in the 5S method. The goal is to make items easy to find in the areas they are needed to enable the flow of the process.

Shine (aka Seiso): Shine, also known as “Seiso”, is the third step in the 5S method. The goal is to sweep or clean the workplace and use cleaning as a form of inspection. This can refer to the shop floor or the office as well hard drives.

Single-Piece-Flow: Single-Piece-Flow is the concept that products should flow from operation to operation in the smallest increment, with one piece being the ideal. The Single-Piece-Flow emphasizes that batching increases cycle time. The idea is that products should be pulled from the preceding operation as needed which prevents overproduction or excess inventory.

SIPOC: A SIPOC is a high-level view of a process. It stands for Suppliers, Inputs, Process, Outputs, and Customers. A SIPOC is ordered from start to finish. In conversational English, every Process starts with Suppliers, who provide Inputs to the Process, which results in an Output that is delivered to Customers.

Six Sigma: Six Sigma is a process improvement strategy that improves Output quality by reducing Defects. Six Sigma is named after a statistical concept where a process only produces 3.4 defects per million opportunities (DPMO). Six Sigma can therefore be also thought of as a goal, where processes not only encounter less defects, but do so consistently (low variability).

Sort (aka Seiri): Sort, is also known as “Seiri”, is the first step in the 5S method. The goal is to remove unnecessary items from the workplace and keep only what’s needed in the appropriate quantities.

Sponsor (aka Champion): A Sponsor is someone in a leadership position who helps a Green Belt or a Black Belt secure resources and overcome departmental barriers in pursuit of project goals. This person has “skin in the game”, cares about the process being improved, and regularly meets with and supports team leads.

Stakeholder: A Stakeholder is any individual who is affected by or can affect a process improvement project. In other words, a Stakeholder is anyone who has a “stake” in a project. Stakeholders’ interests should always be considered in project.

Standard Deviation: Standard Deviation is a statistical measure that shows the average amount that values vary (aka “Dispersion”) from the mean. A low Standard Deviation means that values cluster very close to the mean, while a high Standard Deviation means that values are spread out far from the mean.

Standard Work: Standard Work refers to the goal of eliminating the variation in how a process or process step is completed. This is in response to the problem of process participants developing their own preferred ways of completing any given task. The concept dictates that if there is no one “best” method being practiced then there is no way of achieving process excellence.

Standardize (aka Seiketsu): Standardize, also known as “Seiketsu,” is the fourth step in the 5S method. The goal is to establish standards for the first three steps in the 5S method such that all employees know how to maintain the workplace.

Storyboard: Project Storyboards are ready-to-go project overviews. They communicate a success story of process improvement projects and highlight the project as an example of real world application of Lean Six Sigma tools. The Storyboard also shares lessons learned so that others can learn from mistakes and replicate success.

Supplier: A Supplier is any person or organization that provides an Input to a Process. A Supplier is the first step of SIPOC.

Sustain (aka Shitsuke): Sustain, also known as “Shitsuke”, is the fifth step in the 5S method. The goal is to maintain the standards established in the previous 5S steps which generally involves audits of the work place.

Swimlane Map (aka Deployment Map or Cross-Functional Chart): A Swimlane Map is a process map that separates process steps by function, department or individual. Each lane represents a different department or individual. The process map is called a swim lane because the map resembles a pool with lanes identifying the different groups in the process.

Toyota Production System (aka TPS): The Toyota Production System, a framework for conserving resources by eliminating waste, is considered the precursor to Lean Manufacturing. The two main concepts that drive “The Toyota Way” are Just-in-Time; only producing what is needed and not storing excess inventory and Jidoka; getting to immediate root cause when production runs into problems. This powerful combination is only possible by trusting and empowering employees to participate in the system.

Transportation (aka Touches): Transportation refers to the concept of the moves or “touches” to a unit or product as it flows through a process. This can refer to an email sent from one department to another or to materials being moved from one warehouse to another. Transportation is one of the 8 Wastes.

TPS (aka Toyota Production System): The Toyota Production System, a framework for conserving resources by eliminating waste, is considered the precursor to Lean Manufacturing. The two main concepts that drive “The Toyota Way” are Just-in-Time; only producing what is needed and not storing excess inventory and Jidoka; getting to immediate root cause when production runs into problems. This powerful combination is only possible by trusting and empowering employees to participate in the system.

Upstream: Upstream refers to any processes or activities that occur before a given process. The opposite of Downstream.

Voice of the Customer (VOC): Voice of the Customer (VOC) is data that represents the needs and wants of your customers. VOC data is collected through various means, including Surveys and Focus Groups.

Wait Time: Wait time is a measure of the time a unit or service is idle within a process. Waiting is considered the most common of the 8 Wastes.

Waiting: Waiting happens internally when one colleague is idle because they are unable to proceed with a process step until another colleague or department provides the necessary parts or information in order to continue. This also refers to the resulting delay before customers receive their desired goods or services. Waiting is one of the 8 Wastes.

White Belt: White Belt is the name of the beginner role within Lean Six Sigma. This is someone who has had an overview of DMAIC, the reasons to use it, how to use it, the roles within it and some basic concepts like the 8 Wastes.

Yellow Belt: Yellow Belt is the name for Lean Six Sigma novice. This is someone who has had enough process improvement training that they have a grasp of the vocabulary and could participate on an improvement team if asked. Their education is often supplemented with Just-In-Time training from Green Belts and Black Belts and they are able to spot and submit improvement opportunities within their work processes.


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D – F

G – O

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For a better understanding of these terms and an overview of Lean Six Sigma, check out our Free Lean Six Sigma Yellow Belt Training!