Are Belt Exams Overkill?

Benchmarking results consistently identify examples of Six Sigma success. Even so, getting “naysayers” on board is a continuous challenge. What do you tell them?

Nayism 12: Are Black Belt and Green Belt exams really necessary? It’s not like we’re getting a college degree.

This is a common question, especially from those who may have attended various professional training classes that did not require successfully passing an exam after completion. Exams are a vital element in any credible Black Belt or Green Belt certification processSo, here’s what I say . . .

Exams confirm that an individual understands and can apply the basic principles of DMAIC and statistics to solve business problems. It can be a risky situation if someone misapplies concepts and draws wrong conclusions which results in making an incorrect business decision, especially if that decision has a major negative impact on employees or the company.

It is the responsibility of the training and certifying organization to assure that individuals who obtain ‘belt’ certification understand concepts and tools and apply them appropriately. This is usually accomplished by several items including completion of training, passing an exam to ensure understanding of concepts, and passing a technical proficiency review of completed projects to substantiate proper application of concepts.

So yes, exams are necessary if you want to make sure your belts know what they are doing. If they do, then passing an exam should not be a big deal.

Comments 4

  1. Manish Badani

    It is always difficult to know/measure the effectiveness of training. During the in-house training there are lot of distractions (some self-imposed) and training by itself is not adequate.

    Projects don’t necessarily cover all the steps and aspects of DMAIC or DFSS. At times the projects are done with plenty of assistance and help from others, especially if the BB enjoys a good (managerial/delegating) position.

    Exams under above circumstances ensures that (if not all) at least part of the BB objective is achieved.

  2. AJ

    I agree that exams affirms the knowledge gained from the training to all that goes through a belt training program but since there isn’t a standard for the training, is there an archive from which MBBs can pull sample test questions?

  3. Prithesh Prabhu

    Exams are a necessary evil!!. They help the trainer to measure the level of understanding of the trainees and help the trainees to estimate their level of proficiency in any concept.

  4. Barry

    With the proliferation of "mail order certification" where the passing/certification rate appears to be directly proportional to the "available credit" rate, professional peer-based certification is one of the few ways you can demonstrate and document the level of your knowledge and capabilities. Certification provides objective comparative data. For example, an ASSBB knows that they are above the 75th percentile of all test takers and that the population of test takers is a small proportion of black belts who receive training "certificates." My little granddaughter received a "certificate" from kindergarten the other day. Does that mean she is a "certified kindergartener"? Certificates demonstrate attendance; certification demonstrates comparative proficiency. Comments?

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