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The two terms are frequently used interchangeably and can often be interpreted to mean the same thing. However, there are some key differences between the two.

Continual improvement means that the approach is repeated and has pauses in between repetitions. A continual approach will have a phased system, whereby improvements will be made then there will be a brake to measure and analyse the success, after this further improvements can be made.

Whereas a continuous improvement approach does not stop, it is an uninterrupted flow. A continuous approach is one that will constantly look to make improvements, it is a sustained process of development.

One of the most common approaches of continuous improvement is Lean. This approach aims to embed a culture of continuous improvement (Kaizen culture) which uses a set of tools and techniques to reduce waste and maximise customer value.

Yes, employees can undertake training whilst furloughed. Government guidelines in a sense encourage this by stating that employees ‘must be able to undertake any training [their company] require while on furlough’ and therefore many businesses will see it as an opportunity to upskill their workforce and ensure certificates are up to date prior to them returning to work.

Government guidance also explains that training for employees whilst furloughed is allowed on the basis that they are not making money for their employer (or a company linked or associated to their employer), or providing services to their employer.  Note also that employees undertaking training whilst on furlough must be paid the minimum wage, even if this is more than the 80% of their wage that will be subsidised.

Providing staff with training whilst on furlough is a great way to enhance their skills without the pressure of their usual workload distracting from their studies. Bywater now offers online ISO auditing & business improvement training courses that allow your staff to undertake training at home, in line with government COVID-19 recommendations.

Further details of the government regulations regarding training whilst furloughed can be viewed here:

Yes, all of our training courses and exams are available virtually as well as at over 25 venues across the UK. IEMA, CQI and IRCA have approved our online exam process and therefore you will receive a certificate upon successful completion in the same way you would with our venue based exams.

All online and venue based exams are invigilated. If you are undertaking the exam online the exam will be invigilated via Zoom, you will be required to leave your webcam and microphone on for the duration of the exam. For Lead Auditor exams you will also be required to share your screen.  Anti-plagiarism software is in place. All exams are time limited, you will be provided with a web link to the exam website prior to the start time. The invigilator will go through all of the exam instructions with you prior to the exam starting and answer any questions you may have. Technical support will be available on the exam date.

You will be informed prior to the exam date of the full exam process as it does vary depending on the exam you are taking, if you have any questions please contact our team on 0333 123 9001.



Lean is a continuous improvement approach that incorporates a number of tools and techniques to create a Kaizen culture (a culture of continuous improvement). Lean allows businesses to redefine the output of departments and functions by focusing on what value is from a customer perspective at every stage of a product or service creation. Actions that do not add value to the customer are considered waste, or Muda which can be removed. For more information view our Lean training courses.

Certification is approval from a third party. In the UK Lean and Six Sigma certification is undertaken by the Royal Statistical Society (RSS). Certification adds creditability by demonstrating that the individual or company is competent with ISO 18404 (the international standard for Lean and Six Sigma implementation). View our Lean and Six Sigma to find upcoming courses in your area, or schedule dedicated training on a date and at a location which is convenient for you team.

There are a number of certification bodies out there and choosing one can be confusing. That’s why in 2015 the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) released the standards of Lean and Six Sigma; this included the certification process for individuals and businesses. Currently in the UK the only method to be officially certified is through the Sector Scheme RSS 18404. The RSS is responsible for both monitoring the participant bodies that certify organisations and certifying individuals through their assessment centres.

Although the two are often paired together seamlessly in conversation and can be combined in some introductory training courses, there are some substantial differences between Lean and Six Sigma. Lean is a set of tools and techniques that are used under a culture of continuous improvement aimed at eliminating waste. Whereas Six Sigma focuses on the reduction of process variation with use of data and statistical analysis tools.

Benefits of becoming certified include:

  • Certification is the step to define your expertise. It demonstrates that an individual has been assessed to hold a high level of competence to ISO 18404 the international standard for Lean and Six Sigma.
  • Access to the RSS’ extensive resources and their certification database.
  • You will be given a unique certification number from the RSS that will be on the certification database, displaying your approval.
  • RSS certification can be publicised, allowing you to authenticate your reputability.
  • Top manufacturing employers such as Jaguar Land Rover actively hire certified Green Belt and Lean Practitioners


Six Sigma is a set of statistical analysis tools used to measure and eliminate process variation, in other words, it improves quality by reducing the likelihood something is done wrong or differently to the way the customer is expecting. The Six Sigma process is based upon the DMAIC methodology of Define, Measure, Analyse, Improve, and Control. We offer a range of Six Sigma courses, including Six Sigma Yellow Belt, Six Sigma Green Belt and Six Sigma Black Belt Training Courses.

The goal of Lean thinking is to increase efficiency and customer satisfaction by implementing a culture of continuous improvement (Kaizen culture). This culture is supported with the use of Lean tools and techniques such as value stream mapping, which is used to identify waste by mapping the flow of information and materials. Learn more about Lean on our Lean Training Courses.

  1. Click on your name to view your LinkedIn profile
  2. Scroll down to ‘Licenses & certifications’ and click the add ‘+’ button on the right (on the mobile app click the pencil icon and then the ‘+’ symbol)
  3. Enter the name of your certificate, for example ISO 9001 Lead Auditor. Under Issue Organisation, type and then select ‘Bywater’. Enter the date and credential ID where relevant.
  4. Click ‘Save’.

As LinkedIn no longer shares changes to licenses and certificates with your network we recommend that you also post a status about your achievement. Within the post you may wish to include details such as what you enjoyed the most about the course, what you learnt and how the course will benefit you in the future. You may also wish to include a photo of your certificate. Use relevant hashtags on your post to ensure your post is seen by relevant professionals in your sector making it a great opportunity for networking. To tag Bywater, simply type @Bywater within the post.

Kaizen simply means ‘improvement’ in Japanese. The word Kaizen has been used within Lean as an expression of a philosophy of small scale incremental and continual improvement changes.

Rather confusingly a ‘Kaizen event’ means something different, is an improvement event that happens over a very short period of time to make improvements of a pre-determined set of processes. Learn more on our Kaizen and 5S Training Course.

Yes, Lean has successfully been used in both services and the public sector for a considerable amount of time. Although Lean originates in manufacturing the tools have been developed to suit service-based industries, with certain tools such as 5s becoming service industry orientated. View our Lean Training Courses.

All delegates receive a certificate upon successful completion of our online courses. IEMA, CQI and IRCA have approved are virtual training courses and virtual exams.

As an individual you can become certified through your organisation if it is certified by the Royal Statistical Society (RSS), or directly through the RSS. This is available to delegates that successfully complete either a Six Sigma Green Belt training course or a full Lean Practitioner Programme. The process will involve submitting a portfolio of evidence demonstrating successful practice. Delegates will also have to attend a half day assessment centre at RSS in London, for groups this can be arranged on site. Bywater does offer a bespoke training package to guide delegates through this process with one to one tutoring from Lean and Six Sigma experts.

A business can be become certified through the RSS 18404 scheme. This will be an assessment of the ‘system the organisation has in place for managing the competence of its Key Personnel under the standard.’  A full description of the process can be found here.

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