There are two steps to earn a martial arts belt. First, you must be trained in the various techniques and then you must demonstrate your skills and knowledge. The same holds true for Lean Six Sigma training and certification. Let’s learn a little more.

What is Lean Six Sigma training and certification?

In martial arts, a student goes through training for a certain period of time and learns an appropriate number of techniques based on the level of belt they wish to acquire. The question is whether they have mastered the required number of skills. This can only be answered by demonstrating their skills to the Sensei or Master. If they demonstrate a sufficient level of competency, the Sensei will award them their belt and they can say they are a certified belt.

Lean Six Sigma Training

In the case of Lean Six Sigma (LSS), training provides you the skills while certification is the recognition and acknowledgement that you have acquired the skills and can appropriately apply them in your organization. It is customary to do testing, either intermittently during your training or as a final comprehensive exam at the end of training. In the more comprehensive programs, you might have both types of testing. If you successfully pass your exams your Black Belt (BB) or Master Black Belt (MBB) trainer may give you the designation of, for example, being Green Belt Trained or Black Belt Trained. This is not the same as being a certified belt. In many cases, your training will be done within your employer either by an external consultant or an internal certified BB or MBB.

Lean Six Sigma Certification

At the higher levels of certification (Green Belt/Black Belt/Master Black Belt), the successful completion of a project is required for certification. There is a difference between being LSS Trained and LSS Certified. The difference is the completion of a project(s). In other words, the difference is whether you just know the concepts, tools and methodologies and whether you can also apply them to improvement projects in your organization. At the higher level of belts, you may also have requirements about coaching others, doing LSS training and contributing to the field of LSS through writing articles or presenting at conferences.

For the lower levels of LSS certification (White Belt/Yellow Belt) projects are not typically required although the better programs may require the Yellow Belt to complete a small improvement project in their specific work area in addition to passing a final exam. As with your training, certification may be given by an external consultant or internal resource.

Lean Six Sigma Training Questions to Ask

There are many LSS training options available in the marketplace. Here are some questions to ask if you choose to use an external training provider:

  • What is the reputation and acceptance of the provider?
  • Where did the instructor receive their training?
  • Are the instructors properly credentialed and experienced to provide the level of training you are seeking?
  • Where was your instructor certified?
  • Where have they worked and implemented LSS?
  • Can the instructors do a great job presenting content AND teaching content? Sometimes you can find your instructor doing a presentation on YouTube so you can get the feel of their presentation and teaching capabilities. Maybe the provider can let you see a video clip of the instructor.
  • Is the training content and length of training consistent with mainstream thinking? Check out the better known and recognized providers and see what their training timeline and curriculum look like. For example, if their programs for Green Belt training are 80 hours and the provider you are considering says they can do the same thing in 40 hours be wary.
  • Is the training format virtual or classroom? There are advantages and disadvantages of each format. Consider which works best for you, depending on your schedule and personal learning style.
  • Is the cost in line with other providers? As the old adage goes, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. And another, let the buyer beware.

Lean Six Sigma Certification Questions to Ask

Since training is only part of the process, be sure you are being properly certified. Here are a few questions to ask if you are seeking to be certified by an external provider:

  • Is your training provider also going to certify you? Many training providers also provide final certification. But there are also some that only provide the training so getting certified is up to you. This will need to be done by a different external provider.
  • To be certified, do you need to do a project? Reputable providers will require projects for Green Belt, Black Belt and Master Black Belt certification.
  • Is the required project a simulation/case study or real world project? If you are being trained and certified by your employer, they will most likely require a project(s) to help improve an internal process. External providers may use a simulation or case study to assess your skills for certification. This is quite different from a real business setting with all its uncertainties and influences.
  • Does the external provider require ongoing re-certification? At some level this makes sense to assure you have retained your skills. On another level it is a good business model to assure the cash flow of an annuity.

LSS Training and Certification FAQs

Do all LSS training providers also do certification?

Most do but many don’t. If a provider won’t certify you, there are numerous providers who only do certification. Be certain they are credible, reputable and recognized as a high quality certifying organization. Don’t rely solely on the claims on their website.

Will I need to do a project to be certified?

Reputable providers will require Green, Black and Master Black Belts to do a project. Depending on the organization, the project may be a real world business project while others may require a simulation or case study.

Can I just do training without doing a project?

Yes, it is possible depending on the provider. Some providers will provide a designation of, for example, Black Belt Trained rather than Black Belt Certified. The difference is the completion of the required project(s) and other requirements. But, you can’t honestly advertise yourself as a Black Belt.

This is similar to academia where, once you have completed your Doctoral coursework and passed the comprehensive exam, you can identify yourself as John Smith, PhD, ABD. The ABD (All But Dissertation) alerts people you have not completed your dissertation and therefore can’t be considered a full fledged PhD yet.

Summing it Up

In LSS there are two steps to complete before you can be considered a certified Belt. The first is training. As in all other disciplines, the purpose of training is to acquire the needed knowledge and skills to competently apply them for whatever purpose they are intended. The second step is certification. This occurs after you have adequately demonstrated that you can apply your training. This usually takes the form of a project or projects depending on the level of certification.

There are many options for doing training and certification. This article has provided some questions to help you identify the most appropriate course of action to meet your needs. You will be investing considerable time and money to get trained and certified. The end game is to have a special level of skills which your employer will hopefully value and become a positive influence on your professional career as well as your personal development and satisfaction.

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