Training Variation

The training and curriculum of Lean Six Sigma is the perfect example of variation in action.
I have the ability to see about 4 different types of curriculum for GB’s and BB’s. In all cases,
each one presents you with a almost totally different perspective of what the trainers want
you to be able to do. Some are more statistically oriented, some on processes and others on tools.

I couldn’t say which one is better or worse, but I think the organization that employs a training program
needs to think about the orientation of the curriculum format. In this sense the organization can ensure
their GB’s or BB’s have a effective transition from class to project.

Comments 7

  1. robert thompson

    Process variability affects the quality of a process because the more you reduce variation, the more likely it is that the process will produce a good product. In my experience identifying variation in the Define stage is critical. Foe example, do the critical X’s of your process have a larger impact on variation (spread) or central tendency (centering)? Training is no different.


  2. Mike Carnell

    I think you place too much value on the curriculum. If you look at Blooms Taxonomy you will see that the first two levels are the only ones that are achieved in the classroom and neither produce any commercial value.

    The third level of application is the absolute minimum that must be achieved by either a GB, BB or MBB to produce any value for the organization. You did hit that right on the head when you spoke about the transition from the class to the project and that transition is in the hands of whomever does the site support. The project is where the learning comes to life. You can take the best curriculum, with the best instructor and follow it up with a complete slug for sight support and completely marginalize the whole thing.

    The initial deployments issued certifications as an ancillary effect of the deployment but the focus was always on business results. Todays focus is on certification with shortcuts around projects or no projects at all. Some of the best consultants in the business came out of Wave 1 at Allied Signal and the entire curriculum could be held in one 3 inch binder. Now you get 5-3inch binders and the average value of projects hasn’t changed much. If you run that in a correlation study with number of pages on the x axis and average project value on the Y axis the correlation is poor at best.

    If you want good GB’s support them with good BB’s. Nothing more complex than that.

    Just my opinion.

  3. Mike Carnell

    The focus shifted from Business Improvement to certification when people began offering cerification without being part of a deployment. Most of the individual certifications end up going to people who are in places where there isn’t a program to sustain. People walking around with one walkie talkie. They miss the experience of being involved in a deployment and therefore a business transformation as well as the experience of driving change and actually driving a financial result of some sort. The issue for the general public is more one of separating these people from the one who have more bandwidth in what they have experienced.

    Currently we are seeing entire deployments of Green Belts with no Black Belts or Master Black Belts to support them. If you want to see an investment that pays back poorly look at the results in one of these deployments. It does pay well for consulting companies that just crank out the certifications.

    Going back to your original issue around curriculum it can be an issue but the serious damage is coming from other places.

    Read Watts Wacker’s book "The Deviant’s Advantage and look at his model as things move from the "Edge" to "Social Convention." Even in its mosr basic precept of being a Breakthrough Strategy it has been emasculated into "Variation Reduction" because that is a much easier sell to the old TQM’ers.

    Just my opinon.

  4. CPT Harris

    Since LSS training is a product, any firm who seeks to teach it will differentiate it in order gain some level of competitive advantage. That being said, has training shifted from teaching the basics to focusing on presenting more and more sophsiticated information.

    As a result, has the LSS deployments become more about training and less about creating a support system for long term sustainability of the program?

  5. Sue Kozlowski

    As Education Coordinator for our Lean Six Sigma program, I find your dialog valuable on this point. We piloted our own training program last year, for 45 Green Belt "novices" who have a requirement to complete one Six Sigma or two Lean Kaizen training projects before granting their certification. Following that initial offering, we refined our program which has two major objectives: Teach the philosophy and tools; and teach how to facilitate a project. We are on our third class now and will be starting our fourth in June.

    Leadership has asked repeatedly: Can we shorten the course (from 9 days over 4 months)? Can we make the days shorter? Can we get rid of the final exam? Can we make a Green Belt class that just teaches the tools, not the project management? Can we teach the material on-line? To all of which I answer, no. The course work is 20% lecture, 80% exercises. If we’re not teaching project management along with concepts & tools, then we’re not preparing future Green Belts.

    Granted, we’re not presenting "pure" Six Sigma. We’re teaching a combination that works for us in healthcare – DMAIC structure and tools that work for our non-normal data distributions; Lean principles and tools that work for our waste-heavy flows. That means we go lighter on the statistics and heavier on the Value Stream analysis. The training projects are supported by our Black Belts – I agree that this is an essential to good GB training!!!

    Thanks for your post.

  6. CPT Harris

    In the spirit of Improvement, one size does not fit all. In some of the projects, I have mentored the problems do not always merit a strict DMAIC or even Lean approach. I often tell my GB’s or BB’s that whatever path you take, ensure you can prove it and control it.

  7. Jose Raul Mercado

    Throughout the historical trends in the quality field the programs such as Total quality management, Lean manufacturing, Six Sigma have undergone an evolution. This evolution has transcended and made an appearance in the curriculum for programs such as Six Sigma.

    Many organization thrive on the variance concept to maintain adaptability, others prescribe to limiting variances. Consequently, the bottom line to any program is delineated by customer satisfaction. Furthermore, several companies like GE whom the media promotes in the field of Six Sigma and lean often carry a great index of unsatisfied customers and employees. Then in turn the index value of unsatisfied customers is lowered by reporting these values in metrics. The manufacturing concept of an uncaring view towards the customer has promoted procurement out of our country and in to others because of the uncaring view towards customers. So the bottom line to a purchase is not variances alone of a product but also how well your firm satisfies the customer. That is the reason I stay away from GE and their Six Sigma

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