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What is the Best Lean Six Sigma Training and Certification?

What is the Best Lean Six Sigma Training and Certification?

Getting recommendations from others for your Lean Six Sigma training and certification is a good strategy. But given all the variation in available programs, it is a good idea to have a list of criteria to compare your recommendations. Here is a list to get you started.

What is the best Lean Six Sigma training and certification?

It would be great if this article was able to provide you with specific names of people and organizations which are the best at providing Lean Six Sigma (LSS) training and certification. Unfortunately, that can’t be done. As an alternative, a list of criteria will be provided which will help you evaluate the various options during your own due diligence. If you are participating in your employer’s LSS program, they will have already decided on a LSS training and certification provider.

Criteria

Here are the various options you will have to choose from:

Training provider

You can choose the following providers for your LSS training:

  • External consultant doing public training
  • Professional organizations
  • Educational institutions

The number of consultant-based training organizations almost seems limitless. But which one is the best? You should investigate the credentials, qualifications, credibility, and reputation of both the organization as well as the specific consultants. Where were they trained and certified? Where have they worked and implemented well known LSS deployments? Can you get an idea of teaching and presenting styles of the potential instructor? Are they thought leaders and published? Are they client focused and flexible or have the attitude of my way or the highway? Do they only do public training or are they engaged in significant company deployments?

Since LSS is a specialized field, there are only a few professional organizations who are recognized as providing industry wide accepted training. You will want to confirm whether their training is done by employees of the organization, or they just subcontract it out to various external consultants and just put their name on the certification and act as the middleman.

There are several well-known educational institutions offering LSS training. This is usually done in an Executive or Continuing Education division of the institution. While it sounds logical that you would want to say you were LSS trained at BIG U but that might not be the case. Most educational institution based LSS training is done by a subcontracted consultant and not a prestigious faculty member who won the Nobel Prize. You should thoroughly investigate who is doing your training since you will only be as good as the person training you regardless of the fancy name on your certificate.

Certification provider

Your options here are:

  • External consultant doing public training
  • Professional organizations
  • Educational institutions
  • Third-party organizations only providing certification for those trained elsewhere

Keep in mind, it is a specific Black Belt (BB) or Master Black Belt (MBB) who will be signing off and certifying you, not an organization. You will want to know whether there will be value in your certification. Most external consultants, professional organizations and educational institutions will provide certification once you successfully complete your training and project requirements (if applicable for your level of belt).

Training can be intensive and costly for an organization to deliver. An LSS industry subset has sprung up where organizations will gladly provide certification if you have been trained elsewhere. Some require you to be trained by one of their accredited training partners who pay to be partners. They pitch the concept of being a third-party independent judge thus removing any conflict of interest between an organization doing your training and then providing your certification. The cost of such independent certification is not high, but one wonders how they are able to adequately judge your training and projects based on some submitted documentation you provide.

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Training format

Training is usually done in four formats:

  • Classroom
  • Online – live instructor-led
  • Online – self-paced
  • Hybrid of either classroom and online or instructor-led and self-paced

Classroom training has evolved with the increased sophistication of e-learning capabilities. Additionally, the COVID-19 Pandemic dramatically reduced the feasibility of providing classroom training in most organizations.

The traditional classroom-based training has the distinct advantage of greater personal interaction between students and instructors as well as student to student interaction. It also allows for more experiential activities in the form of breakout exercises.

Online training is offered in either a live instructor-led format or a self-paced format. Just like a classroom format, an instructor-led course requires you to be there at a specific time but you can be located anywhere which allows for adequate internet connectivity. A self-paced format is best for those with inflexible schedules or those who learn best when they can study at their own pace without the pressure of keeping up in the often-rushed timeframe of an instructor-led course or classroom.

Project requirements

Most credible programs have a project requirement for Green Belt (GB) and Black Belt levels. There is rarely a project required for White Belt (WB) or Yellow Belt (YB). Projects can take two forms:

  • A simulation or case study approach using fictitious informational content in a hypothetical environment.
  • A business-related project done with your employer in your work area or with some other outside organization who allows you to work on their project as a volunteer with the purpose of fulfilling your project requirement.

Once you get to the Green Belt and Black Belt level, it is expected that you can apply your classroom learnings to the successful completion of a business related project. If you are being trained in your company’s LSS program it will be expected that your project will solve an internal problem or improve an internal process.

This becomes more difficult when in a public format whether it be classroom or online. As a result, most online training will allow you to satisfy your project requirement by successfully completing a simulation or a case study of a business situation. Regardless of how comprehensive and detailed the simulation or case study is written it cannot totally convey the variation and reality of working a project in a true business environment.

Length of training

It is typical for Green Belt training to encompass 40 hours of training. Black Belt training is usually 80 hours. Programs significantly less than this should raise some questions about the depth and breadth of material being taught.

Cost

If you are seeking LSS training and certification for your own personal and professional development, then cost will probably be a consideration. You will find a wide range of costs. Of course, an astute businessperson will wonder why. Here are two examples of what you might expect to see for consultant based online training:

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Organization 1:

Green Belt:

  • 2 weeks of training spread out over instructor-led multiple virtual sessions
  • Cost of training is $5,179

Requirements for certification:

  • A defined, management-approved business improvement project that provides a positive business impact to your organization of $10,000 – $50,000. The knowledge and skills learned in this training course will be applied to this project.

Black Belt:

  • 2 weeks of training spread out over instructor-led multiple virtual sessions
  • Cost of training is $6,439

Requirements for certification

  • Student already possesses a Green Belt certification
  • A defined, management-approved business improvement project that provides a business impact to your business of $100,000 or greater.

Organization 2:

Green Belt

  • $257 (includes Lean Six Sigma Green Belt Training & Certification)
  • Fully online, self-paced, lifetime access (does not expire)
  • Includes optional simulated project component
  • Certification exam included (taken online – unlimited attempts)
  • Short case studies and real-world examples from leading organizations

Black Belt

  • $399 (includes Lean Six Sigma Black Belt Training & Certification
  • Management Focused Certification
  • Average Completion Time: 4-7 Weeks
  • 100% Online & Self-Paced Training Included
  • Black Belt Certification Exam Included (taken online – unlimited attempts)
  • Simulated Project Included

Does the above raise any questions in your mind? Which person would you be inclined to hire?

So, what do you recommend?

As an LSS professional with over 50 years in the quality business and having worked as a consultant as well as a senior leader of several top company LSS deployments here is what I would recommend:

Training provider

If you are not being trained as part of your organization’s LSS deployment I would recommend a consultant-based training provider keeping in mind most of the professional as well as educational programs will likely be using an external consultant anyway. Just be sure you check out who will be training you and be comfortable he or she has the proper credentials and style compatible with your needs.

Certification provider

If your training provider offers certification, then you should use them. If they don’t, you might investigate why they don’t. Are they only a training mill or are they willing to take the responsibility for also certifying you?

Training format

During the Pandemic, when students were forced to use e-learning, it became obvious what the downsides of e-learning are. While some people are strong advocates of e-learning, the research is really mixed about its success versus the more traditional classroom. If you have a flexible schedule, are close to a classroom option and are comfortable learning in that environment I would recommend this as your first choice. The advantage of more personal interaction and the ability to engage in experiential activities with others makes it a better learning environment.

If your schedule or location doesn’t permit a classroom option but you can handle an instructor-led virtual alternative, then this makes for a viable choice. If neither choice is possible, then a self-paced approach is better than nothing.

Project requirements

Hiring managers are often more interested in what you can do for them rather than just who trained and certified you. By presenting a well thought out and analyzed real business project with a successful outcome you can demonstrate your capabilities and what you can do for the organization. That should be your first choice.

If your selected program requires a case study or simulation, ask whether you can substitute something from your own job. If not, try to do your case study or simulation with as realistic an approach as possible and come close to representing the realities of a real work project versus an artificial project.

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Length of training

While doing your research and due diligence, observe how long most programs are. Green Belt should be around 40 hours of learning and Black Belt 80 hours. Ask how much of that time is actual learning time versus estimated self study, group study or homework.

There is an accepted Book of Knowledge (BOK) for LSS training content. Consider whether a program of 20 hours can be equivalent to one for 40 hours and still provide you the needed learning. A recent posting on LinkedIn extolled the benefits of a Green Belt program that was 5 days consisting of 7.5 hours per day minus lunch and breaks. Three of those days were allocated to three advanced statistical topics which most Green Belts would not normally do. Subtract the time for daily review and an end of class final exam there wasn’t much time left for the bulk of the LSS BOK. Let the buyer beware.

Cost

The cheapest will not necessarily be the best. Most of the credible programs will have similar pricing. The key is comparing the price with what they are offering. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

FAQs

Is e-learning better for LSS training than classroom?

This is a controversial topic. While technology has allowed for the expansion of online training, the research is still not consistent whether it is a superior format for learning. The recent COVID Pandemic clearly demonstrated the deficiencies in children’s learning experience when the classroom format was shut down. Using an e-learning format for your LSS training is a viable option if you are not able to participate in a traditional classroom format.

Does e-learning training cost less than classroom training?

In reviewing the pricing on the websites of several online training providers, it does not seem that the cost of e-learning is significantly different from classroom training. But, since the cost of training has wide variation, you can compare the cost between the possible providers you have researched.

Will the organization who provides my LSS training also certify me?

In many cases, yes. But there are some organizations who are not set up to also provide your certification, particularly your project requirement. In those cases, you will have to find a third-party organization who specializes in just certification, not training.

In Conclusion

You will be spending your valuable time and money to get trained and certified in Lean Six Sigma. As such, you will want to optimize the value of your endeavors. It would be nice if someone was able to pinpoint the best organization to help you do that, but that isn’t possible. Instead, here is a list of criteria you can use to evaluate potential providers of training and certification so make the decision which is best for your circumstances:

  1. Who is the training provider?
  2. Who is the certification provider?
  3. What is the training format?
  4. What are the project requirements?
  5. What is the length of training?
  6. What is the cost?

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