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  • Writer's pictureJosh Atkinson

PMP vs Agile Vs Lean Six Sigma; how they relate to military planning and civilian jobs

In the world of project management methodologies, three prominent approaches often stand out: PMP (Project Management Professional), Agile, and Lean Six Sigma. Each methodology brings its unique strategies, principles, and practices to the table, and they can be compared and contrasted through a military lens.

PMP (Project Management Professional):

PMP is a structured approach to project management developed by the Project Management Institute (PMI). It follows a sequential, step-by-step process that includes initiating, planning, executing, monitoring, controlling, and closing phases. The methodology emphasizes meticulous planning, risk management, and adherence to a predetermined project plan.

Parallel with Military Strategy: In military operations, planning is crucial. Similarly, PMP aligns with military strategies by emphasizing the importance of thorough planning, establishing clear objectives, and defining roles and responsibilities—akin to the preparation and execution phases of a military operation.

Agile Methodology:

Agile is a flexible and iterative approach that focuses on collaboration, adaptability, and quick response to change. It breaks down projects into smaller, manageable components called "sprints" and promotes continuous improvement through regular feedback and adaptation.

Parallel with Military Strategy: The agile methodology resonates with the military's need for adaptability and flexibility on the battlefield. Just as soldiers must quickly adjust to changing conditions, Agile teams constantly reassess and adapt their strategies to meet evolving project requirements.

Lean Six Sigma:

Lean Six Sigma combines two methodologies—Lean, which aims to eliminate waste and optimize processes, and Six Sigma, which focuses on minimizing defects and variations. It emphasizes data-driven decision-making and continuous improvement through the DMAIC (Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, Control) or DMADV (Define, Measure, Analyze, Design, Verify) frameworks.

Parallel with Military Strategy: Lean Six Sigma shares parallels with military operations concerning efficiency and precision. The focus on reducing waste aligns with the military's goal of resource optimization, while the emphasis on minimizing errors and variations reflects the military's commitment to precision in execution.

Differences and Intersections:

  • Approach to Change: PMP follows a more rigid structure, while Agile and Lean Six Sigma embrace flexibility and adaptability.

  • Project Size and Complexity: PMP is suited for large, complex projects, while Agile excels in dynamic environments with rapidly changing requirements. Lean Six Sigma focuses on process optimization and defect reduction.

  • Mindset: Agile and Lean Six Sigma foster a continuous improvement mindset, while PMP leans toward adherence to a predefined plan.

In a military context, these methodologies find application in various scenarios. For instance, PMP might be more suitable for long-term strategic planning, while Agile could be employed in agile response units or for adaptable mission planning. Lean Six Sigma principles can be applied to streamline logistics or enhance operational processes to reduce errors.

Ultimately, just as military strategies vary based on the mission and context, project management methodologies also find their strengths in different environments, allowing for adaptability, efficiency, and precision, all crucial elements in both military operations and project management.

The certifications associated with these methodologies often align with specific job roles and industries. Here's a breakdown of the types of jobs that commonly seek individuals with certifications in PMP, Agile, and Lean Six Sigma:

PMP (Project Management Professional):

  • Project Manager: The most direct correlation is with project management roles across various industries, including IT, construction, healthcare, and finance.

  • Program Manager: In larger organizations, where multiple projects are interconnected, program managers oversee these interconnected initiatives.

  • Project Coordinator: Entry-level roles supporting project managers in administrative and coordination tasks may seek PMP certification for career advancement.


  • Scrum Master: Specifically associated with Agile methodologies, Scrum Masters facilitate the Agile process and ensure teams adhere to Agile principles.

  • Product Owner: Responsible for maximizing the value of the product and work of the development team.

  • Agile Coach: Experienced Agile professionals who guide teams in adopting and implementing Agile methodologies effectively.

Lean Six Sigma:

  • Quality Manager: Focuses on implementing and overseeing quality initiatives within an organization.

  • Process Improvement Manager: In charge of identifying and implementing process improvements using Lean Six Sigma principles.

  • Operations Manager: Uses Lean Six Sigma techniques to optimize processes, reduce waste, and increase efficiency within operations.

The industries and sectors seeking these certifications can vary:

  • PMP: Widely applicable across industries, especially in sectors like IT, construction, healthcare, finance, and manufacturing.

  • Agile: Commonly sought in software development, IT, marketing, and project management industries.

  • Lean Six Sigma: Prevalent in manufacturing, logistics, healthcare, and service industries, focusing on process optimization and quality improvement.

Employers often prioritize these certifications because they demonstrate a candidate's proficiency in a particular methodology, providing assurance of their ability to manage projects, lead teams, implement process improvements, or drive agile practices.

Individuals pursuing these certifications align their career paths with project management, process optimization, or team leadership roles. The choice of certification often depends on their career goals, industry preferences, or the specific methodologies used in their field of work.

If you are looking to earn a certification please email and our team will be glad to help.

Military members: we can help you use Army CA, GI Bill, AF COOL, Coast Guard COOL/USCG CA funding, VR&E, Unit funding etc.

Civilians or organizations, we love working with you to establish work force development plans, integrate training into your work force, or help you individually get certified too.

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