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ISO 18404

The new International Standard, ISO18404:2015, was officially launched in the UK on the 2nd of February 2016, having been published three months earlier. It is the first International Standard that will look to certify both organisations and their personnel for their successful implementation of Lean and/or Six Sigma.


Certification against ISO18404 will be for application of competencies rather than knowledge and is aimed at delivering results immediately. Prior to ISO18404, it was quite the opposite. Only knowledge was tested, and as a result, paths to certification became abused and bad practice became a mainstay.


The standard was developed around the Lean and Six Sigma methodologies, therefore as an organisation, it’s important to have key knowledge of either or both. However, if your organisation hasn’t implemented a documented management system in the past, you can still work toward ISO18404, only the lead time for implementation will be a little longer; you’ll have to build up evidence. 


In addition to organisational certification, personnel will be eligible for certification under the following roles, Six Sigma Green, Black & Master Black Belts and Lean Practitioners, Leaders & Experts. However, if you’re a Lean & Six Sigma practitioner, you must display your full competencies for both roles. 


Within the aforementioned roles, a competent professional at the Lean Practitioner or Green Belt level will need to adhere to a yearly in-house check, whilst a review every three years by an external certification body is required for Black and Master Black Belts, and their Lean equivalents.  

In the first version of the standard, Yellow Belts, White Belts and Project Sponsors or Champions have been omitted from the classes of certifiable personnel, this could change in subsequent revisions.


Professor Tony Bendell is a unique knowledge holder on ISO18404:2015 thanks to his experience as chair of BSI Technical Committee, MS6, that developed the new International Standard. Alongside this, Tony is the project manager for the sector scheme for certification set up by the Royal Statistical Society in cooperation with the major UKAS accredited certification bodies, to allow accredited certification against ISO18404.​


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