iSixSigma

Advice?

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  • #39750

    xupz
    Member

    Well I just recently graduated with a B.S. in Statistics and have been job hunting. I’ve come across many job descriptions referring to Six Sigma which ultimately lead me here via Google. Anyway, I was wondering how someone with a master black belt cert compares to having an actual degree in statistics?Quite honestly this whole certification process seems like utter nonsense to me. I apologize if I insult anyone, but to think someone with a certification can even remotely compare with someone who has had YEARS of schooling on the subject matter in application & theory seems ridiculous. It just seems like this is another tactic to make money off corporations.So anyway here’s my dilemma. I’m currently looking for a job in statistical analysis and methodology. These certifications seems like they would give an extra edge in getting in the door, since many of the companies here use these programs. However, I’m not sure if they even matter other than having it on paper, when in actuality I already know the material. Also since there appears to be no standards set for the certifications, is it worth the time? Any thoughts?So I am not sure how to proceed. I honestly feel insulted as a statistician that these certifications even exist. However, if it will get me a decent job doing what I can already do to begin with, then I will play ball. I would appreciate any advice anyone can offer. Thanks in advance.

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    #121615

    Saherngu
    Participant

    gr8 and valid thought..
    the answer to the question will be available by answering this question below :
    “Assuming that another graduate in english from your university asks to explain the physical interpretation of standard deviation” what will be your answer

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    #121616

    AlexP
    Participant

    What makes you think you can play ball? You feel insulted because you dont have a clue of what Six Sigma is. It’s much much more than statistics. First learn about it and then critisize.

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    #121617

    Anonymous
    Guest

    Xupz,
    Having a degree doesn’t guarantee anything… neither does officer training. I once came across a Major trying to boil water in a plastic bowl.
    Similarly, any statistician, with or without a degree in statistics, that fails to appreciate that factor levels are not necessarily ‘fixed’ in a chemical process by measuring quantities doesn’t deserve to be called a statistician! Perhaps this is why Georege Box insists Dr. Taguchi’s use of an outer array is wrong!
    Good luck!
    Andy
     

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    #121620

    xupz
    Member

    Well I’ve taken the time in the past hour to discuss this subject with some PhDs I know online, it turns out this whole certification business is getting a bad rap now anyway even in B-schools as with some of the larger companies. I’ve decided to not waste my time or money with the certifications. Thanks for your reply Andy, I realize the degree itself does not guarantee anything, I’ll hold out for a legitimate position to become available locally since I’m not willing to relocate.As for the others I’ve taken several courses on quality control (1 graduate level) amongst the myriad of other statistical courses, everything from Markov chain theory and rule applications to knowing most standard process chart types, but everyone with the certifications knows this too right? Why bother with getting a college degree when everything will be ‘certified’.Anyone have any links to studies that show these programs even make a difference?
    Do these certifications teach theory and/or application at what level?

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    #121624

    Peppe
    Participant

    You are right and wrong. Maybe you are right saying that these certification not add value to your background, but why you doesn’t want take it,  if it is so clear that business want it ? At lesat, what are other 4 weeks,  against some years of statistics studies, already done ? Maybe you aren’t really interested in that, so if you are really interested in quality from different level, there are universities that teach quality and statistcis applied to quality, at level you believe is right for you.
    Rgs, Peppe

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    #121626

    xupz
    Member

    Hey Peppe, I understand your argument that it’s what companies are looking for, however, I believe the degree I earned after years of work should speak for itself. The certifications seem like ‘get rich quick’ methodology for the companies that are offering them.I fully understand the need for improving quality control on broad scale, not just on the manufacturing line. I’m a firm believer anyone with statistical background ALONE should be able to save a company what they make in salary every year.The four weeks you mention are exactly the problem, how can anyone with four weeks of training be comparable to someone with the degree is my whole arguement about these certifications. Why pay some company $2k when that covers tuition for an entire semester at most universities.Anyway I’ve read through Waxer’s attempt at justifying the costs but I see no statistical analysis whatsoever. It’s one thing to show things are correlated (which he doesn’t anyway), but this by no means implies causality in the company’s savings by implementing these programs. It could be attributed to improvements in manufacturing, business processes, flat out experience of being in business to name a few. What are his qualifications anyway? Liberal Arts degree, what’s that? He is good at writing though. Not only that, look at this link:
    https://www.isixsigma.com/library/content/c010325a.asp”$12,000-$50,000
    4 weeks delivered over a period of 2-6 months”If some company is willing to spend that amount of money on training one person, which by the way, would pay for both my masters and PhD, they could certainly afford to hire plenty of industrial engineers, statisticians, and operations research people they want. The could implement an entire department that over looks all aspects of quality control company wide and handles in-house training bypassing the “consultants”. How do you even ensure “quality control” on the consultants? How do you know they’re really qualified to teach the material let alone apply it. It’s all that perception based ignorance again, since they come in from outside people assume they know what they’re doing, when it probably is not the case for the most part. I could be wrong, after all they’re charging 2k/person/day, so they could afford to hire plenty of knowledgeable people at those prices to try to cram in all their knowledge and experience from their life into 4 weeks of classes.The more I read about these certs I realize any company who’s doing any of this certification not in-house is wasting their time any money, perhaps following another corporate fad. I’d rather not work for people who think like that to begin with. As I understand it, GE does it all in-house and most of these are just copies of their program.Well anyway, I am tired and it is late, I have however come with up with some ideas of my own, maybe one day I can boast some companies are marketing my in-house methodologies like GE can now.

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    #121630

    AlexP
    Participant

    Good luck

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    #121633

    Tronan
    Member

    Hi xupz,
    It is so rare these days that I tread on people’s toes, however, I would like to take this time to mention that you are a dangerous academic twit.
    Furthermore, when you go into your first manufacturing environment, please ensure you take a video camera as I would like to see the responses of the people in the work area, and how they react to you.
    If you think it is only about stats, then you confirm my first paragraph.
    T.

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    #121636

    xupz
    Member

    Falling back to name calling now? Now I know I’ve tread on some toes. Certified in assumptions too? The simple fact is you don’t know me and have never met me in your entire life, so saying “If you think it is only about stats” then you’re are as naive as your post.Your post speaks plenty of your character. Certified Dolt.

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    #121638

    Peppe
    Participant

    I believe you are misunderstanding if compare your university background to SS ones. They are two different levels. SS don’t require your skill, but this not mean they can make more money than you. They are different matters (businesses). I agree with you on companies in house training/skill. See Toyota.
    Rgs, Peppe 
     

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    #121639

    Tronan
    Member

    Have a nice day!
    A Certified Dolt and proud of it.
    T.

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    #121643

    Paul Gibbons
    Participant

    Having a degree in stats is a great foundation qualification and the world is now your oyster.
    “The knowledge of the world is only to be aquired in the world, and not in a closet.”
    (Lord Chesterfields Letters to His Son, 4th October 1746)
    Paul

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    #121644

    Mikel
    Member

    xupz,
    Ever heard the expression “young and dumb”?

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    #121649

    xupz
    Member

    I’m not one to back down, but if that’s the sum total of your attempt at an insult, then I hope whomever you work for is proud to have such a creative employee.

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    #121651

    walden
    Participant

    xupz,
    Although not always supported on this forum, academic experience can be useful in the “real world”. With more than one class in advanced statistics at the graduate level required for a Ph.D. program while working in the manufacturing world maybe I can give you a little insight. Reviewing research, discussing BB certification with Ph.D.’s, and manipulating data to meet significance and assumption needs does not replace “real world” application. What your project proposals in your role as an expert may effect are jobs, profit, and company survival. Once you interpret your data, you’ll find many gray areas to interpret which is usually not taught an academic setting. BB certification can help elaborate on the applications side of the playing field. Besides, when you and your buddy who just graduated apply for the same great job, what makes you different for a business leader to appreciate?
    Chris

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    #121653

    Mikel
    Member

    Not meant as an insult, just an observation.
    Your experience is all academic and you don’t have a clue how to leverage your knowledge. To take swings at people who are accomplishing things but that are not degreed statisticians is just plain stupid. There are a lot of people out there that have spent years learing but do not have a degree in stats. To have some snot nosed kid degrading that is both insulting and stupid on your part. Go find out what people are really doing. Go find out what you can really do. Shut your mouth and learn in the meantime.

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    #121656

    xupz
    Member

    I’d like to thank those of you that posted something worthwhile. I’ve received all the information I needed to make my decisions.I’ve realized in the end it’s like being certified in Windows 95, while a degree will last a lifetime. I’ll go for my PhD.

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    #121658

    walden
    Participant

    I applaud you for attempting to go for your Ph.D., I assume you have been accepted to a particular program? I must caution you to be opened minded. Too many schools of thought have been prematurely ignored in the name of “mine is more better than yours”. If you go in the graduate world and eventually the post-doctorate world with your current disposition and attitude you will not go far. That is not to say not going into six sigma is a bad decision for you or anyone, but when you disrespect those plugging away through whatever means they find successful you will always stand alone. The analogy to this is the 1st Lt. who thinks he knows more than the non-commissioned officer and refuses to respect his true knowledge and experience. There is a “BIG” difference between earned and expected respect.
    Chris

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    #121659

    Mikel
    Member

    Ever heard the expression “young and dumb”?

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    #121662

    cheezer
    Participant

    Congratulations on your degree. Based on your faith in you degree I strongly agree with your goal of the Ph.D. I know many Master’s & Ph.D’s in statistics (I sleep with one every night-don’t ask to see the data). They generally have no understanding of six sigma and turn their nose up when they hear of it, similar to you, so I understand your reaction.
    I’m a deployment leader at a mid-sized company (the person who would be hiring you) and I could care less about your degree (well-I’m glad you have one, but I’d be fine with any type of degree). FTR-I know much less about statistics than many of the posters you’ve been sparring with and they know much more than you. However, I do know I want to see some kind of project work/success in a “real” setting (non-academic) before I’ll hire you. Project management skills are really hard to come by, and you don’t get them via a degree. I also want someone who has some general business knowledge, so I’m more willing to take a chance on a good employee gaining six sigma knowledge than I am on a statistician gaining business knowledge (that also helps keep support for the program high). I also prefer people who can talk with line employees and make them understand what’s going on with a project. Too much statistical terminology and holier than thou attitude can really turn the team off, thereby killing project results. You may want to work on this communication side of your skillset based on your posts.  
    If your Ph.D plans don’t work out and you wish to enter industry in a six sigma role I suggest you volunteer at a non-profit and offer to lead an improvement project for them. That’s something I’d like to see on a resume. So, you may be in the old quandary of “can’t get a job without experience-can’t get experience without a job”
    Good luck.

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    #121663

    Thai
    Participant

    xupz,
    While a degree title may last a life time, unless you are in pure research or teaching the effectiveness of that degree will only last a few years.  I had read someplace that within 5 years out of college your degree is outdated and you are working from knowledge mostly picked up from your career.
    Six Sigma is not only about statistics.  I have seen some of the most effective Blackbelts and Greenbelts from people who don’t have a background in statistics (some don’t even have a college degree). 
    Good luck in your career…
    Kirk

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    #121665

    walden
    Participant

    I applaud you for attempting to go for your Ph.D., I assume you have been accepted to a particular program? I must caution you to be opened minded. Too many schools of thought have been prematurely ignored in the name of “mine is more better than yours”. If you go in the graduate world and eventually the post-doctorate world with your current disposition and attitude you will not go far.  That is not to say not going into six sigma is a bad decision for you or anyone, but when you disrespect those plugging away through whatever means they find successful you will always stand alone. The analogy to this is the 1st Lt. who thinks he knows more than the non-commissioned officer and refuses to respect his true knowledge and experience.  There is a “BIG” difference between earned and expected respect.
    Chris

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    #121666

    Ken Feldman
    Participant

    It is obvious that you have a misunderstanding of the role of the BB/MBB in Six Sigma.  A person with a statistical background does not necessarily make a good BB/MBB nor does the lack of a statistical background mean a person will not make a good BB/MBB.  Frankly, the advent of Minitab, JMP and other statistical packages has stripped away the aura of statistical analysis.  Most statistical work has been greatly simplified so a big deal statistical degree is not needed for practical application and use.  
     
    While Six Sigma has a base in data driven decision making, much of the BB/MBB’s time is spent dealing with non statistical issues.  Your degree will not be much value when a key stakeholder tries to sabotage the project.  Your degree won’t help when it turns out that there is no data collection process in place.  Your degree won’t help when the process owner declares, “change over my dead body”.  Your degree won’t help you manage a project team of 8 people spread across the country.  Your degree won’t help when team members lose motivation because their manager is bad mouthing Six Sigma.  Your degree won’t help you motivate senior leadership when their interest starts to wane.  Your degree is no guarantee that you can “teach” others either in a classroom setting, small group or one-on-one.  Yes, if you possess other facilitative, leadership and political skills, you can become a successful BB/MBB and your statistical background gives you an edge.  But, if all you have to offer is a theoretical, academic statistical degree, then get off your high horse and realize you probably don’t have what it takes to be a successful BB/MBB.  If all you want to do is play with data, Six Sigma is not for you.   Based on your current level of understanding and attitude, maybe going for the PhD is best for you and a blessing for the SS world.  Good luck.

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    #121671

    Alvin the Chipmunk
    Participant

    Amen, Darth.

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    #121672

    AMU
    Participant

    I absolutely agree with Darth. SS is jus not stats.
    BB/MBB certification is not jus for the sake of it and not everyone can get certified jus because they know some stats.
    Stats will only help you to slice and dice data but will not help you in real process improvement.
    Good Luck for your PhD anyways.
     
    Rgds
    AMU
     

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    #121677

    sue
    Member

    I agree with AlexP and would like to add….
     Determining critical measurements and analyzing performance data are just 20% of the Black Belt work in Six Sigma. However, generating creative solutions, planning and sustaining process improvements, having teams buy-in; re-design of processes, to name the few, takes the majority of your time. Statistics is just a tool that gives you direction. In that sense, Black Belts are considered more as change agents. It is not so black and white!
     
     Thanks,
     
    Sue

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    #121680

    BTDT
    Participant

    Sue:Only 18% of really good MBBs are stats wizards, the remaining 87% are good change agents.BTDT

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    #121682

    Peppe
    Participant

    Could be interesting to know the % of “really good MBBs” …
    Rgs, Peppe

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    #121689

    walden
    Participant

    What is a measure of good? See, you brought it back to a stats question.
    Chris
     

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    #121691

    Mikel
    Member

    Could be interesting to know the % of stats majors who aren’t idiots…

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    #121692

    BTDT
    Participant

    xupz:Being good at inferential stats will give you a leg up, but the balance of being a Black Belt is all the messy stuff that goes along with investigating a problem and implementing a solution where people are involved. Data is never as clean as you want and the determination of the single best solution with laser like precision is never as simple as you’d like.Part of the success of Six Sigma is its success in melding data driven analysis with business problems. Data analysis is less than half the battle.If you go to the ASQ website, it has a list of the sorts of things that a BB should know. It tends to emphasize the statistics component of SS. Given your background, you will find it is fairly basic. Roger Hoerl published an article a while back about “What a Black Belt should know”. This site has a number of articles on similar subjects.You should be prepared to tackle change management, communication planning, project management, elementary financial analysis, resistance management, risk assessment, etc., in order to be a good Black Belt.It would be a mistake to purport that you are an expert in Six Sigma, though. If you do so, then the next question from anyone conducting an interview will be, “What projects have you worked on, and what was the financial benefit to the customer/company?” It will be the second question even for a certified Black Belt.Six Sigma has also defined a language of business. If the Six Sigma culture is mature, then this is the way the managers, process owners and Black Belts all talk. If you can’t define RPN, CTQ, VOC, DPMO or FMEA, you will not be effective.If you can not answer these types of question, then you will not do so well in the interviews.If the company has an existing program, see if you can sign up. Best of luck!BTDT

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    #121693

    Savage
    Participant

    Quite honestly this whole certification process seems like utter nonsense to me. I apologize if I insult anyone, but to think someone with a certification can even remotely compare with someone who has had YEARS of schooling on the subject matter in application & theory seems ridiculous.
    Maybe you should feel insulted that there are plenty of people that CAN compare to someone that has YEARS of schooling.  Maybe you should feel insulted that there are probably a number of people on this forum that are making more money than you will ever see and they DON’T have YEARS of schooling in statistics.    
    There is a reason that in every industry that I’ve ever worked in that the graduates make less money than everybody performing the same function.  Graduates are next to useless.  You should lump yourself into that category unless you have several years of experience doing the very job you went to get a degree for.  Lump yourself into the useless category and while you are at it get over the “YEARS of schooling” god syndrome.  As you mature you will understand that most of what makes you valuable down the road was not learned in school.  There are some exceptions for sure but the majority of professionals learn significantly more after school.  I have two degrees so I’m certainly not anti college but now i’m aware how little i knew when i hit the workforce.
    The main thing that you need to do is understand what Six Sigma is.  You are insulted and you dont even understand the idea that a good BB can know as much about the stastics of six sigma as you (probably more) and not know near as much overall as you do about statistics.  You are comparing apples to roller skates.
    You go right ahead and get your phd.  I’ll continue to make six figures while utilizing my self taught statistics.  While you are deferring your student loans I will be hanging out at my lake home probably round filing your resume because all you have is a degree in statistics.
    Matt         

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    #121695

    Ozarski
    Participant

    Stan,I could probably get you a good sample size on that one for a study, but I don’t think I should.
    Plus, don’t get me started on this guy who fails to realize that Six Sigma has brought statistics out of back room analysis and into acceptance throughout a company.  It’s amazing when statisticians don’t see this as a huge opportunity for them.

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    #121696

    BTDT
    Participant

    Jeff O:I like to tell people that the best project I ever did was to define a check sheet for job scoping and communication in a 3 FTE service shop. The project spread worldwide by word of mouth because it made everybody’s work easier.The only stats we did was to quantify the defect reduction and cycle time reduction.93% of the statisticians fail to find evidence to disprove the null hypothesis 19 times out of 20 within a sampling error margin of less than 4%. It’s a mystery to me why they don’t get to talk at the project meetings. All the better for the rest of us I suppose.:) BTDT

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    #121698

    Restagno
    Member

    Xupz,
    You are absolutely right.  A 3 weeks Black Belt Certification does not remotely compare to having a B.S in statistics.
    I have had the fortune of working with both, full time staticians and the so called “Black Belt” and in my opinion there no comparison between the 2.
    My recommendation:
    1) get your feet wet out there in the industry.
    2) Don’t waist your time and money getting a certification, your B.S. is a lot more valuable.
    3) Develop confidence in yourself and the field(s) you are working on.
    If you do that, the potential benefits are much more greater than if you decide to go Black Belt.
    I know a group of full time staticians that have their hands full of job offers plus they get paid very well!!!
    Good luck.

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    #121700

    Restagno
    Member

    xupz:
    Let me add that if you had the right people skills, the power of getting people buy in -extremely important- , in addition to you BS, let me tell you that  your are dinamite!!
    If you have all that, go for it.
    Otherwise, theory and the BS alone will not help you much.
    Good luck again!!

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    #121706

    walden
    Participant

    Having a Ph.D. in anything or having completed BB certification or any other business model is just the first part of the process.  You choose the path you take based on what your passion is. What you do with the information in the applied “real” world is what counts.  If someone with a Ph.D. or someone with BB certification thinks he or she can fix the world by yourself, you are sadly mistaken. You have to sell yourself and then follow up on your promises. Problem is too many individuals want to through stones and spitballs at each other instead. You keep that up and you can sit in the corner in timeout.
    Chris

     

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    #121709

    New VGB
    Participant

    Mixing apple with orange:2 different  things Basic Academic  Education  with  Practical Professional Certificate,you  are  giving  the  wrong  advise and  creating just  a “new”  confusion??.I would  suggest to  proceed  first  with  the  SS-GB Certification,before  going  to  the  BB.Just  my  opinion. 

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    #121711

    xupz
    Member

    Wanted to thank you all for taking the time in recent replies, much more informative as compared to what I encountered last night. I did want to address a couple things mentioned.Cheezer I wish to point out that is an online forum, so communication isn’t exactly comparable to an in-person situation. Looking back at my previous posts they were somewhat uncalled for, but I still feel the same way as in regards to the nose turning ;). Anyway, I don’t have plans to enter into quality control. I was simply asking in regards to getting a short-term position for a year or so in order to gain some experience. I see now it would be better to just continue my schooling as I apparently have this so hated “academic mind set”, one I don’t see as a disadvantage in any sense since statistics is simply applied mathematics. This may not be in the real world, but the large majority of the problems we solve are real world problems. As for my PhD I will focus my thesis on regression analysis such as applications of tree-structured regression amongst other ideas I have.I also wanted to address the post regarding the degree being outdated. I don’t think this is the case at all. If anything, the future I believe will be based on a combination of classical and nonparametric methods to get things done, without all those pesky assumptions to verify. This is still an early stage for statistics because computers are just now allowing us to numerically prove theorems that could not have been proved by analytical methods. I wonder if we’ve even scratched the surface yet.I can also see some of you have no respect for college degrees in the work place (Matt for instance). What kind of salary you talking about anyway? 100k? 200k? I hate to break this to you but my father’s company is making WELL ABOVE that quarterly, net to boot. Making money is not difficult by any stretch if you HAVE money, and when you have money, it breeds money. However, it’s not a business in which I can apply what I’ve learned and leaves nearly no room for advancement in my field. This has nothing to do with comparing pocket books, I’m trying to set out on my own and earn my own keep. I’m sure some of you understand what I’m trying to do. I wish to make my own accomplishments.Anyway, I digress. I don’t want to get back into these flames I received earlier.I am wondering if any of you by chance have both a statistics degree and the certifications. What is your take on the subject?Also thank you for the advice Sergio, it’s the only other post other than Cheezer’s that seems to have any bearing on both a statistician and the certifications.Looking forward to some replies.

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    #121715

    Savage
    Participant

    Anyway, I don’t have plans to enter into quality control.
    What makes you think that a BB is in quality control?  I talk to the quality guys maybe 2 times a week.  I have virtually nothing to do with the quality group.  There are certainly some BB’s that are quality but please don’t lump Six Sigma into the quality discipline.  Please refer to my earlier reply about understanding what a BB does.
    I can also see some of you have no respect for college degrees in the work place (Matt for instance).
    How did you interpret that?  I said that i have two degrees.  I absolutley value college degrees, however; they are almost never as adequate as experience.  College grads are the bottom of the food chain but most of us started there.  You just need to understand that you are starting there as well and that most of the people in this forum are not at the bottom.  In fact, most are highly successful.    
    100k? 200k? I hate to break this to you but my father’s company is making WELL ABOVE that quarterly, net to boot
    I’m not talking about company revenue.  I work for a fortune 500 company.  My personal salary is over six figures.  I realize that isn’t anything special but its a superb living for somebody that spent less than $8000 out of pocket for education.  I’m 32 years old.  I was tossing the salary in there because I was hoping you’d see that in large part your degree won’t determine what you earn.  There’s a good chance that after you’re in the workplace the hard earned degree you spent years getting won’t even be used.
    I’d like a show of hands:  Who is doing something completely different, unexpected, or unrelated to your original education?
    I’ll raise my hand first.  I’m a degreed mechanical engineer and I use the actual knowledge from college about .5% of the time.
    Matt   

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    #121716

    xupz
    Member

    Matt, I’m not lumping Six Sigma methodology in with quality control. I’m fully aware of the aspects of TQM, CWQC, and TQA. I know all 14 of Demings points on the subject, as well as Juran and Feigenbaum.Perhaps I’m not understanding what exactly it is you do as a BB. How about elaborating on some specifics if possible, not the generic common-sense arguments. Do you do any real statistical analysis? Do you simply make decisions based on analysis done by others? In all these projects described what exactly do you do in “leading” the group? Who does the actual work? Do you do design of experiments? Implement control charts and rules for processes? Sampling and survey designs? Optimizations? Linear programming? Simulations? Modeling?I can’t find any specifics on what any of these belt certifications do.

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    #121759

    Robert Butler
    Participant

    So here we are – once again the lines have been drawn and once again the verbiage focuses on misperceptions and stereotypes instead of reality. 
     
       “Could be interesting to know the % of stats majors who aren’t idiots…”
     
    “Six Sigma has brought statistics out of back room analysis and into acceptance throughout a company.  It’s amazing when statisticians don’t see this as a huge opportunity for them.”
      “The only stats we did was to quantify the defect reduction and cycle time reduction.
    93% of the statisticians fail to find evidence to disprove the null hypothesis 19 times out of 20 within a sampling error margin of less than 4%. It’s a mystery to me why they don’t get to talk at the project meetings.”
    “…however, I believe the degree I earned after years of work should speak for itself…. I’m a firm believer anyone with statistical background ALONE should be able to save a company what they make in salary every year.”
    “It is so rare these days that I tread on people’s toes, however, I would like to take this time to mention that you are a dangerous academic twit.”
    “They (statisticians) generally have no understanding of six sigma and turn their nose up when they hear of it, similar to you, so I understand your reaction. “
    “However, I do know I want to see some kind of project work/success in a “real” setting (non-academic) before I’ll hire you. Project management skills are really hard to come by, and you don’t get them via a degree. I also want someone who has some general business knowledge, so I’m more willing to take a chance on a good employee gaining six sigma knowledge than I am on a statistician gaining business knowledge (that also helps keep support for the program high). I also prefer people who can talk with line employees and make them understand what’s going on with a project. Too much statistical terminology and holier than thou attitude can really turn the team off,”
    “Frankly, the advent of Minitab, JMP and other statistical packages has stripped away the aura of statistical analysis.  Most statistical work has been greatly simplified so a big deal statistical degree is not needed for practical application and use. “
     
    …….
     The non-statistical skills needed for being a good applied statistician are identical to the non-statistical skills needed to be an effective BB.  The notion that a statistician is an idiot who understands nothing but theory, who has a “holier than thou attitude”, who cannot talk to everyone from the piece worker on the line to the CEO in terms they understand, and who “generally have no understanding of six sigma and turn their nose up when they hear of it” is a lot of rubbish.
      Are there such individuals in the statistical community? Of course there are – statisticians, like the members of every other discipline, are a continuum which means there is always someone willing to volunteer for the role of “dangerous academic twit” (just as there will always be a BB who believes 4 weeks of training and a couple of projects means they are skilled and effective at what they claim they do).  The focus, however, should not be on the extremes but on what is typical.
     
    1. A typical statistician is the ultimate team player.  My discipline is a curious one in that we are at our most useful when we are providing service to everyone.  I actively encourage the notion that everybody from the guy on the shop floor to the CEO is my boss.  As a statistician it is my responsibility to understand their problem in their terms and provide solutions to them also in their terms.  This means that I have to ask lots of questions, take a lot of notes concerning the process and the problem at hand, and integrate all of this into an understanding of the situation which will aid my and their understanding of the situation.  Many times, just the act of explaining a process in a logical fashion to an attentive, note taking audience (such as a statistician), is all that is necessary for problem solution. 
    While the typical statistician strives to be the ultimate team player he/she also needs to be able to “think outside the box” and ask and pursue questions as well as provide and defend answers that may not be very popular.  
     
     2. A typical statistician brings to the table a host of extremely powerful tools and methods and the ability to correctly apply them.  For whatever reason, most people, including many six sigma professionals I’ve met, have a picture and an understanding of statistics and statisticians that is at least 50 years behind the times.  This perception leads them to the conclusion that since they have a computer package they have all that is needed with respect to statistics. It is true that because of the computer statisticians are, for the first time in the 200 year history of the discipline, in the position of being able to apply much of what was heretofore nothing more than theory.  However, the fact of the computer program gives many non-statisticians the sense that they can do statistical analysis without much expenditure of effort (i.e. –I’ve had my 2 weeks training and that is all anyone really needs). The result, too often, is a case of “going wrong with great assurance”.  I’ve always found it interesting that in those cases when they have gone wrong in this manner and I was there to witness the sad aftermath, not once did the individual in question accept responsibility for the error – rather the dodge offered was along the lines of  – “well, it’s only statistics and you know how iffy that can be.”
     
    3. A typical statistician is very focused on results and takes great delight in contributing to the bottom line.  My personal circle of fellow practitioners numbers about 50 and I’ve met many others at conferences. I can only think of two individuals out of that population who were not intensely interested in the product and processes of their respective companies.  As a team member I would never be so arrogant as to insist that I developed something by myself but I do know that in my 20+ years as an industrial statistician (and as a certified BB – yes, I know, I don’t like dragging the credentials into this either but Xupz did ask if there was anyone on the forum with this training mix) I have made a significant contribution to corporate profits (millions of dollars annually). These contributions were quantified not by me but by the engineers and managers for whom I worked.  In the world today I can point to things as diverse as toothpaste, plastic wrap for bacon packages, hair shampoo, OEM aircraft carbon brakes, OEM aircraft deicer boots, jet engine fuel pumps, thick walled sanitary plastic pipe, food grade plastic bottle compound, aircraft deicer fluid, colorfast clothing dye and more that are the way they are, in part, because of my efforts.  I helped make all of those things better, cheaper, safer, and I helped increase the profitability of those products to the companies that made them.
     
     In the end I would say the question should not be – “Is a statistician a better BB candidate than a non-statistician?” Rather it should be – “Is the statistician in question interested in doing something with his/her training that will require more than an academic understanding of the statistics discipline?”  If the answer to the second question is a “yes” then the next question should be – “Are you interested in work where your statistical skills will be an asset but not the key focus of your job?”  If the answer to that question is “yes” then you, as the individual in charge of hiring, are in the position of describing the roll of the BB and asking the applicant if they might be interested in the work.

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    #121764

    Ken Feldman
    Participant

    Nicely presented post, thanks for your thoughts.

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