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When I discuss about Six Sigma with people of similar interests, some of them argue with me that Six Sigma and ISO are similar concepts. Both strive to achieve process improvements, and both are implementable in all the domains.

Though I have argued with them saying Six Sigma is about improving a certain process by analyzing and improving it to better quality and also about data driven decision making, ISO works on fulfilling the certain best standards for a prescribed quality., my friends were not completely convinced.

If six sigma is a very powerful concept, why are organizations still going for ISO ??

Pls enlighten us with the differences between the two.


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  • 2 weeks later...

ISO standards mostly deal with "WHAT" and not the "HOW". For example, ISO 9001 is a quality management system that prescribes what should a company do to meet the requirements, get certified and to be able to showcase to their customers that they have a quality assurance system in place. If the same company has to implement Lean Six Sigma, it shall have to carry out Lean Six Sigma projects. Each such project shall delve into "What specifically needs improvement" and "How can the improvement be brought" with the help of world's bet tried and tested methods.


ISO and Lean Six Sigma are not comparable.


  • ISO provides generic frameworks, requirements and guidelines, while LSS projects work with sharp focus on a specific problem or improvement area to bring business benefits.
  • With ISO, companies get certified while with use of Lean Six Sigma, they seek better business results.
  • While ISO does not guarantee business results, Lean Six Sigma has grown because of its ability to improve results.  
  • With ISO, if certification is the focus, it may not matter how it is achieved as long as it is sustained. But with Lean Six Sigma, success and sustenance is dependent on how well it is understood and driven.
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  • 7 years later...

The main difference between the two concepts is that ISO 9000 is a shell of requirements used as the basis to develop the entirety of a business' quality management system while Six Sigma is solely a set of tools and methods used to improve specific business processes

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