Would you be happy if your doctor received her MD from an unknown and unaccredited medical school? Probably not. What about your CPA or attorney? Again, probably not. For the same reason, your employer wouldn’t be happy with your Lean Six Sigma certification if it was awarded by an unknown organization with a poor reputation and no acceptance in the industry.

Why is Lean Six Sigma accredited training and certification important?

This is a tricky question to answer. Unfortunately, there is no centralized or recognized organization for the accreditation of Lean Six Sigma (LSS) training and certification. While many LSS training and certification organizations claim to be the one to provide accreditation for LSS training and certification, you must ask who awarded them that title. If you are being trained and certified by your employer, the issue is moot since you can only assume they did their due diligence in selecting the consultant who is helping or helped with the training and certification.

The Problem

The issue becomes important if you are seeking to be trained and certified on your own. If you read a little deeper into various promotional materials provided by organizations claiming to be accredited, you will see they are often referring to their process for accrediting the providers they recommend for you to get trained. They are usually just a third-party certification if you receive your training from one of their approved and accredited providers. Here is the tagline from one of the organizations: Official Industry Standard for Six Sigma Accreditation. Who made them the Official Industry Standard? To repeat, there is no officially, universally accepted industry standard providing accreditation of Lean Six Sigma training and certification.

It is the Master Black Belt (MBB) who certifies an individual through the organization that he/she represents. The organization may be an educational institution, consulting firm, professional association, or a company’s internal certification.

The problems of having no sole certifying body are:

  1. Fly-by-night LSS training organizations or certification mills
  2. Once you get certified, it means you are only as good as the MBB who awarded you your certification

There are several organizations proclaiming, directly or indirectly, that they are the central certifying body for LSS. The amusing thing is that the companies which were on the forefront of Six Sigma never claimed to be the central certifying bodies or said their way was the best and only way. Yet today there are a number of groups making the claim.

One such organization says it is the only independent third-party certification in the LSS industry. What it means is they only certify persons and institutions, and according to them, it removes the conflict of interest of being the trainer and then later issuing the certification to the student.

The problem is the organization is advocating for persons who want to get certified in LSS to take the training from the list of its accredited training institutions/ persons. The accredited training institutions/ persons pay this organization a fee each year, to be on its list. Is that a conflict of interest?

So where does that leave you?

Given the lack of a centralized accreditation body, how do you know if your LSS training and certification will have any value to your current employer, future employer, or yourself? Since there is no single industry standard, there is no control or guidelines for training content and certification requirements. Any consultant or external provider is free to design their own training curriculum and certification requirements. In the absence of a singular source of credibility, here are three factors you might consider when deciding whether your training and certification will have value.

Well-known Professional Organization

Although nobody has anointed the American Society of Quality (ASQ) as the standard, they are one professional organization that enjoys some widespread recognition and respect as providing a credible training and certification experience.

Principals and Instructors

There are several companies who are known for their deployment of LSS. If your instructor or the leadership of the organization you are researching came from one of those companies, it may be an indication that the quality and comprehensiveness of the training and certification should be of good quality and be recognized by those in the LSS industry. Some of the companies known for an extensive LSS deployment include:

  • 3M
  • Allied Signal
  • Amazon
  • BAE Systems
  • Bank of America
  • Becton Dickinson
  • Boeing
  • Caterpillar Inc
  • Dell
  • Eastman Kodak Company
  • Ford Motor Company
  • General Electric
  • Keurig
  • Dr Pepper
  • Motorola
  • Northrop Grumman
  • PolyOne Corporation
  • Raytheon

Beware of Training and Certification at Educational Institutions

While some educational institutions are well known and recognized, be aware they generally outsource the training and certification to external consultant providers. The educational institution may have their name prominently displayed on your certificate, but it is the quality and credibility of the provider that you should be concerned with rather than the name value of the institution.


Is there a centralized body for accreditation of LSS training and certification?

Unfortunately, there is no single recognized organization for accreditation of LSS training and certification.

Who would certify me, a Master Black Belt or a company?

While an organization’s name might be featured at the top of your certificate or plaque, it is the Master Black Belt (MBB) who signs off on your certification. The MBB may also do your LSS training and help coach and sign off on your project if it is a requirement for a certain belt level.

Does it really matter where and with whom I get trained and certified?

Absolutely. An employer is hiring you or paying for your training and certification because of the expectation you will bring certain skills, knowledge, and capability to the organization. Most experienced LSS professionals can tell within the first few questions whether you are knowledgeable about LSS or not. In fact, most will form an initial opinion after the first question, “Where were you trained and certified?”. Their initial opinion is usually confirmed with your first few answers to their questions. Where and with whom you train and certify is important.

In Summary

Where you are LSS certified and by whom is important. The better training and certification programs and organizations are well known to LSS professionals and are usually correlated with a person’s performance on the job.

Unfortunately, there is no single organization who serves as the central source for accrediting LSS training and certification. It will be up to you to do your research to identify those organizations who have a reputation for turning out top notch belts and who are recognized as the best in the business. This will give value to your investment of time and money and provide you the opportunity to take advantage of the best available jobs.

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