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    Mustafa Ghulam

    ASQ and IASSC seem to be leaders in Six Sigma Black Belt Certification. I am looking at either option. I note that IASSC does not require candidate to show evidence of a completed project ( I can understand as simply filling in an affidavit does not really mean much). I also note IASSC exam is a closed book exam, while ASQ exam is an open book. BoK looks pretty much the same. I am interested in any views about level of difficulty about either of exams and how do they compare to each other. Closed book exam obviously means more more to remember rather that remembering where to find….


    Don Strayer

    Both approaches have merit. ASQ BB requires documentation of two projects and the exam is open book — Demonstrated proof of application but not memorization of the BoK. But even with open book you cannot pass the timed exam without deep knowledge. The open book is really a test of your ability to find confirmation and details about what you know, which we often need to do in the real world. There’s no time to do research during the exam. A closed book exam with no requirement for a completed project stresses book learning. I think the ASQ’s approach is better but it’s really for the market to decide. Which certification does an employer value more?


    Mike Carnell

    @mghulam I am not sure how you determined who is a “leader” in certification but you seriously need to reassess how you determined that.

    You need to take a few minutes and understand Bloom’s Taxonomy which is the adult learning model we used when we began training and certifying people in 1995 at Allied Signal. This is the foundation to the training and the certification. The first two steps in that taxonomy are Knowledge and Comprehension. Read about those steps and then ask yourself what value they bring to a business. The answer is none. The first place there is business value is in Application which is why the project work has been critical to differentiating the Six Sigma initiative from other past quality initiatives. We did the project work to specifically eradicate the certifications that were going to good “test takers” rather than good “problem solvers.” When a company hires someone who carries a certification and is clueless about getting results then that have directly contributed to increasing the Cost of Poor Quality (COPQ). That is a wasted salary and wasted potential saving because they filled a job with someone who cannot cost justify their own employment.

    As far as the value of a closed book test? Who really cares if someone can recite the formula for a confidence interval, std. deviation, etc. I want someone who knows what that means and how that applies to solving a problem. Is closed book better? Closed book is irrelevant! Through my career I have tolerated a lot of esoteric academics that want to sit cross legged on a desk drinking herbal tea and pontificate about the lint in their navel. Total waste of time. Nobody needs those people in their company.

    Where do I want someone to spend their time memorizing formulas that can be dome in a lot of stats packages and/or Excel or applying what they learned so they can begin working the minute they walk through the door? When industry hires you it is with the understanding you will create a positive ROI. Next time you do a performance appraisal tell your boss “I didn’t do a thing all year but pick a formula, any formula, and I can recite it for you.”

    Here is the bottom line. My opinion. When I see a certification that was done with no project then in my opinion they are not certified. I have never certified anyone outside of a deployment which means that they have to do at least 2 projects before I certify them. No project then they get a certificate of training. If I am asked by any customer what a certification means from someone else, the first criteria I give them is did they do a project. If the answer is no then there is no interview.

    The whole SS initiative was built on results not certification. Certification is an ancillary effect to creating business results.

    Just my opinion.

    Just my opinion.


    Tom Pyzdek

    I agree completely that the demonstrated ability to conduct a successful product using the methodology taught in the training is essential. In fact, I require that for GB and BB certification and I personally review all projects and coach the students through the project. I feel that this is better than just asking for an affidavit that a project was completed. I find that even after training many of the project proposals are not Six Sigma DMAIC projects at all, but “Just Do” projects that don’t use the entire Six Sigma skill set.

    I am a CQE and many of my fellow CQEs feel resentment towards Black Belts who sometimes seem to have greater prestige, despite an overlap of at least 80% in the two bodies of knowledge. But CQE work nearly always consists of identifying a problem and it’s root causes, but not actually taking responsibility for leading a team and defining a project to fix the root causes and make permanent improvements. These so-called soft skills are the 20% missing from the CQE body of knowledge, and the ability to execute using these skills isn’t part of the CQE certification. Adding the project was a clear break between TQM and Six Sigma, and it’s why Six Sigma continues to thrive to this day while TQM has faded.


    Mike Carnell

    @tompyzdek Nice response. Much kinder and gentler than mine.



    @mike-carnell, @tompyzdek Absolutely- I know a lot of ‘certified’ quality practitioners who only carry the certification with little embodiment of the philosophy and it is really sad- they may have lost the opportunity to become ‘real’ six sigma professionals forever. Most exams- with or without a project are objective exams- it is very easily possible to pass these exams with little knowledge and a little larger luck- but the concept is lost. And voila, the organisation has a certified employee with little applicable knowledge- A COPQ as Mike said.

    Also, Tom, agree about the CQE bit. ;)

    @mghulam I have no experience with IASSC however, I hold two ASQ certifications and have thoroughly Enjoyed the examinations- they are real fun teasers for people who enjoy the philosophy and have their knowledge in shape. And of course, why not Open Book, I mean, why not?



    @mike-carnell, @tompyzdek The problem many people have and have had, including myself, at the entry-level is that many employers require certification before they are even considered for the job. With that in mind, how can I be hired by a company and thus gain experience without first being certified? If experience is the only valid way of gaining certification, and certification is a barrier to winning a job how can anyone at the entry level hope to succeed? Its a frustrating dichotomy that old hats such as yourselves forget. I think for that reason IASSC appealing. In my opinion, comprehension and knowledge can’t be undervalued especially in lieu of experience it shows applicability.


    Tom Pyzdek

    I haven’t forgotten. There’s more to the real world than the workplace. You are a customer of dozens of processes every day when you buy something, visit you or your child’s doctor or school, participate in social organizations, etc.. Virtually all of these experiences involve processes that can be improved. As someone who has been trained in Six Sigma you will have the skills to help the owners of these processes make them better. Until you can identify areas for improvement, find the person with the authority to sponsor a project, recruit and lead a team, and properly use the tools of Six Sigma you are not yet ready to become a Certified Green Belt or Black Belt.

    As many of my students have demonstrated, the following is true:



    Chris Seider

    I’d rather have a candidate for employment to discuss the route they took to solve the problem. If they can answer with some depth, it shows they can execute a DMAIC project.


    Shelby Jarvis

    I am with Chris and others. Many sources exist to gain certification, but if I am hiring someone to be a BB, then I am most interested in their demonstrated ability to deliver. As Tom stated, their is a difference in only finding the root cause and finding the RC and developing/implementing a robust solution. Without implementation, RCA is just a sunken cost.

    My concern comes from the original question and the reply from Heston Hall. I think both are valid questions, so my problem is not with the asking. My concern is; until recently, BB candidates were generated internal to an organization based upon criteria which should insure their ability to understand the implication of the projects and to lead change. Examples of these characteristics including; experience, years in the company, business acumen, respect for others, respect by others, etc.

    It feels as if there is a trend toward SS BB as a curriculum and people are seeking it out as a resume builder. Highly experienced BBs and MBBs can have success as they enter into a new organization due to being very experienced with executing SS projects. It is a big ask of an organization to hire someone with minimal work experience in the company and in SS and then expect them to deliver at a high rate of success. My concern with “certifying” bodies is that we begin to risk the integrity of the concept of SS. I equate it to the intent and original execution of ISO was meaningful, but as we began certifying more and more companies (at times with loser audits), ISO is loosing it’s value.

    I have great respect for ASQ and other orgs. I am not insinuating they are wrong nor that they are not putting together proper governance around certifications. My concern is that if we do not continue to encourage the learning through doing, coaching, mentoring, teaching……we risk GBs and BBs who are not prepared and therefore weakening the ability to deliver results. To quote Mike…….”Just my opinion”


    Mustafa Ghulam

    I posted the original question and while it has not been directly addressed and debate has moved to a more philosophical one, but it is really great to see a diverse range of views and I thank all for the replies. Theoretically, there should be no debate that any organisation wants to have an experienced belt who has practical application of knowledge and experience. However, by that logic anyone who is trying to make their career as a belt will be locked out of job market as no one is born with a practical experience. Accordingly, as Hesston Hall points, there are some valid reasons for certifications. Competency= Knowledge + Application. For example, I am a mid career professional who has practical experience of Six Sigma and internally trained. However, in job market, I now have to compete against so called Black and Master Black Belts. HR Lady is probably going to give more weight to such certifications ( separate issue with recruitments). Are certifications for resume building? Of course to some extent they are and what is wrong with that?

    The core issue is the same old issue that there is no formal universally recognised certifying body for Six Sigma. One can spend anything from $99 to $10,000 for a Belt. It can range from a third party such as IASSC and ASQ to some random in house sessions issuing a GB or BB on a piece of paper. We keep dancing around the issue but the crux is that not enough leadership has been shown to formalise the certifications. I also whole heartedly agree with Mike and Tom that a simple affidavit also does not really show full application of Six Sigma tools. In my personal observations, ASQ has shown some leadership to formalise and build control by design with certifications ,e.g. asking for affidavit, recertification’s every 3 years and so on. However, more needs to be done. No one questions validity of an MD or MBBS degree for a graduate from a reputable institute as employer would know that one has been trained in practical aspects as well as has the required academic knowledge. For me, this is the real issue!



    Very interesting discussion. I can see how it would be difficult for a person starting out needing/wanting the application experience of LSS – but, not yet having the job experience to gain it. One idea would be to volunteer some time at a not-for-profit organization and identify opportunities to use the DMAIC/LSS skill set there. I’d think it would be easy to find something you (anyone) could be passionate about and help them solve one of their business problems (because they have many of them to solve and often not the skill sets to do it).

    But, many companies hiring, asking for a GB, or BB, or even MBB certification don’t even know what they are asking for. I’ve interviewed for some of those jobs and walked out in complete awe of their lack of understanding of LSS.

    I took the ASQ BB certification exam years ago. I think the test is robust (indepth, but they don’t try to trick you) and the idea of not needing to memorize tables/formulas makes total sense. We all need to look things up from time to time. ASQ’s project requirement is fine as well. If someone is going to “fudge” a LSS project and write something describing an imaginary project that they never did – well, then they probably should be in politics rather than business. Those people would easily be found out by someone with expertise interviewing them.



    Mike Carnell

    @mghulam That whole universal certifying body diatribe is nonsense. It is a very tired old argument and I have no clue why you are trying to trot it back out for another lap around the track. Do we have a global standard for certifying a doctor, attorney, accountant, etc. No we do not.

    Let’s take something like the CPA Exam. Nothing to be taken lightly. Extensive testing and very rigorous. So what does that get you? Now when you look for a CPA there is no reason to decide one way or another if one is any different because there is central body that controls testing so they all have exactly the same capability? That is pure nonsense.

    We won’t even get into being certified in accountancy to the International Standard. Actually what can and cannot be done by cpa’s varies from state to state. This centralized, one all powerful, don’t pay any attention to the man behind the curtain certification is a waste of time if you have taken the time to look at the current attempts at a single certifying body and the lack of consistency in the people that are being certified. The data does not support it. If it did you would not see magazines publishing list of top doctors, top attorneys, etc. They would be the top as well as the bottom since they would all be equal. But they are not.

    Now if you can’t look at ASQ and IASSC and tell the difference between an ASQ cert (that will be pretty much recognized globally) and a IASSC cert that may be recognized somewhere between McDonald Drive and Indian School Road (Roughly +/- 1 mile either side of Camelback Road) then I truly understand why you are having an issue with this.

    This is a old Irish blessing/toast that could be somewhat similar:
    May those who love us love us.

    And those that don’t love us,

    May God turn their hearts.

    And if He doesn’t turn their hearts,

    May he turn their ankles,

    So we’ll know them by their limping.

    Most of us don’t need them to injure themselves i.e. limp because we know them by their certification.

    Just my opinion


    Mike Carnell

    @mghulam I don’t know the author of this article but he appears to have done some research You can read and make your own decision. Let me be very honest with you Peter is stepping way up on this. I have been sent cease and desist orders for what I have posted. I have been sued by people in this industry. I applaud Peter for at the very least having the courage to step up and be counted.



    That is an interesting development, and I we will see where this leads. That being said, I did not see anyone mention the fact that IASSC provides a Lean + SSBB versus ASQ’s just SSBB. For individuals in service area that qualify and would like to advance their certification, wouldn’t going with IASSC’s LSSBB be an advantage?




    If you review ASQ’a BOK for SS (GB&BB) you will see lean in both of them. It’s not in the title but, the lean concepts and tools are part of it.



    I would like to know as well, between ASQ and IASSC BB exam which is got more value and more difficult
    From my standpoint,
    Regarding, determining value of a BB certification depends from organization to organization and people to people. I implemented several BB projects in my 1st job/1st org. But 2nd org or my 2nd job did not give much importance to my previous BB projects. I had to again take training and implemented several BB projects as well. I completely agree that just a certification cannot boost up your resume but certainly it can if you have enough work experience to support it. If not so, why PMP is important or why we do need certification. Moreover a resume with certification saves lot of company’s resource, time & money by prioritizing factors impacting hiring decision.
    Critical thinking, Decision making , defining roadmap, building strategy, risk or gap analysis or using FMEA/FTA or other 6s tools we might be using in our day to day jobs without even running a 6s project. Our efforts towards certification may also help us to learn and use 6s tools despite of not appearing in BB certification exam



    This is an interesting discussion since I am also planning on getting BB certified. I have been in this role for the past one year and got internally trained on Six Sigma GB in my organization. With my experience I would say that yes practical knowledge makes much more sense then just giving an exam and passing to get certified. Knowledge is necessary, definitely, however if you don’t know how to apply that knowledge, it can be a disaster. I am still learning and evolving myself everyday in this field and at least I have some confidence, if not much, in finding a solution to a business problem using Six Sigma.

    Another thing is companies hiring BBs generally would also ask for some experience along with a certification if they really understand how Six Sigma can transform their business. Else they will already have MBB’s and BB’s who are there to mentor someone with knowledge but no practical application. It’s up to an individual to make that decision to get certified without experience and try for a role in Six Sigma. However in such case, better get a clear description of the job and the expectation that the company have of them.



    This is a good discussion but is it a universal consensus now that IASSC is a total waste and that ASQ is unquestionably the gold standard? The problem I have with that is that ASQ is merely more prestigious based on the fact they try to artificially limit the size of BB candidates by having flimsy project standards for the application and having limited test dates. With that said, there experience in quality engineering is a big clincher. That said I firmly believe that BB education and work experience should be considered more relevant than project experience. Is someone who has user experience with a system but no BB project experience really less valuable than someone who is from a completely different background , has no user experience, but some limited form of BB project experience? This is where I cant totally dismiss the idea of getting an iassc certification over an asq cert so you can use it to gain project experience by getting a job that will put you in a strong position to gain experience.


    Rod Howes

    Hi Mustafa,
    You have generated a very rich discussion here. I’ve read through the responses and find ‘who cares’ to be the one with the most credibility. This leaves you to follow your instincts.
    I have never heard ASQ or IASSC referred to as leaders in Six Sigma but I’m always ready to learn. I’m particularly interested in what criteria they were measured against.

    My job is to create BBs (and GBs, MBBs, DfSS BBs) for my client. My Customer. The only thing that matters is what my customer wants (although I always reserve the right to recommend what (s)he needs).

    I have never been asked to provide certification. I have always been asked to provide results however. So, for me, any certification that comes without the evidence of capability in the form of a project (2 actually) has no credibility.

    At the end of the day it’s all about ROI. The greatest push-back I get these days is from HR depts. BBs (and GBs) I have certified roll up to their performance review with data. Nothing more frightening than that! They put their case; ‘I’ve saved this company 1.5 million dollars in the last year, verified by the CFO, and expect a very substantial pay increase.’

    The point I’m offering is this; The mindset of (my) BBs and GBs is ‘I’m an asset’, not ‘I’m certified’.

    Mustafa, I thank you for your question. It is a genuine one and has provoked a lot of valuable discussion. My advice to you is to get the certification that is easiest for you but then present yourself on the strength of your projects completed. Don’t try to bask in the glow of the certifying body…’s very transparent to the true professionals in Six Sigma.
    Kindest Regards,


    I have participated in interviews (for a Quality Manager)and the candidate had every ASQ cert under the sun, including CSSBB. As the interview played out, I got the impression that his answers were what you would want to hear answering an exam question, but is application experience was zilch. I was one of 6 managers, but the only one to say “NO”, and I did so in all-caps. My peers were stunned. When this person then did a phone screen with the VP, the VP saw through the guy when he was unable to answer a question about his hands-on project experience “because my internet is down”. So all forms of certification can let frauds through.

    Wall hangers are valuable when that is all hiring managers understand, but when that person hires you on certificates alone, and you really know what you are doing, you will be frustrated. You want to solve a COGS problem by examining it holistically, validating assumptions an metrics, he wants you to go speed up a welding operation or “paint floors” when there are much worse upstream issues to address. A good warning sign is when the interviewer asks you about all the tools and asks how you solved a problem with each one, vs. asking you about a problem you solved and what your methodology was. Run away, or in my case correct their misunderstanding of the issue, and maybe someone on the phone/panel will understand and love you for it, or you don’t advance and get stuck in a job working for a caveman.

    I have a colleague who has the “international certification”. I hear him pouring out jargon to someone two cubicles over (listing types of distributions to someone who doesn’t understand permutations and combinations, he likes to do this with Japanese terms too). Font of terminology, but lacking in RCA skills, strategic project selection sills, but may impress some interviewers lacking lean mastery, an even get a bump from a compensation specialist.

    I did the CSSGB in 2008. I had a hiring manager ask if I did a project for the GB, and shut his mind off when I said no. The fact that I had numerous personal case studies of high ROI project before and after various certifications not related to them fell on deaf ears because he only knew enough to be overconfident that he could spot frauds by one metric he had heard about. That I had just spent time as management consultant with a focus on improving how a DoD “lean department” impacted a 4,000 person organization as a whole meant nothing.

    Unless the company is already really mature in Lean, and far down the road with all major processes in control, I don’t see how the analysis of the finite elements of a gnat’s backside pays off. If I get the BB cert, I will be holding my nose while I do I, because I will know I would only be doing it to impress an ignoramus, not to add critical knowledge to my skillset. At my current organization, I think I am on track to create over $2M in annual value, with my core project self-identified in my first 2 weeks. Yet I am sure that I had potential employers hang up the phone after a screen, or not even call me, but mark “unqualified” because of a missing check box.

    Oh well. But I do wonder if my colleague got more pay than me because of the “International” BB…


    Luke H

    @mghulam @mike-carnell

    Very interesting discussion and a very salient one for me; I have worked all my career (6 years) as an independent contractor in financial services, so for my employers my development is inconsequential & they have no incentive to provide me with structured training or the chance to be involved in projects which I could reference in an ASQ certification. Because of this my only remaining option is to sit the IASSC green belt exam – not in the hope of convincing (or duping) potential LSS employers that I’m a six sigma expert as seems to be being suggested in much of this thread, but merely to at least display to them that I’m hungry & driven enough to try & broaden my skillset in my own time, & hope that this increases my chances of being given an entry level opportunity to apply some of what I’ve learnt.

    I have to echo the sentiments of @hESSTON hALL – if experience is to be so frequently used as a barrier to entry, how does one ever begin to acquire the experience??



    The initial question was simple and straightforward, and did not need a philosophical debate, not to say drama, around the perception or authenticity of any program or actual implementation. IASSC and ASQ appear to be ‘leaders’ because if you search, there does not seem to be much else that comes up in terms of a certifying body.

    I am currently in a time and market that requires some sort of certification for Lean Six Sigma. Of the 2 options, which one is best? That’s all folks!



    Layla-Just because the question asked was simple, that doesn’t mean there’s a simple answer. Read the replies again and be grateful that these experts provided such thoughtful answers to the original poster. Then make your own decision.



    I was previously in a manufacturing environment leading the process and quality team. I’ve led six sigma projects successfully. However, I did not get certified as certification courses were quite pricey. Now I am in corporate training and consulting. Though I have good knowledge of six sigma and lean methodologies, the question clients ask me is ” Are you certified?”. I am also a CQE hence when i checked with ASQ I have to submit a project to be able to sit for certification, a luxury that I don’t have in my current nature of work. Thus, IASSC gives individuals like me, who have the sufficient knowledge and experience to obtain our certification. But having said that, I strongly agree that one who has not been involved in such projects will not be able to execute the knowledge gained just through classroom experience.


    Amjad Ali Ikram

    Mike carnel your replies are very offensive and unbecoming of a professional. Please improve your communication skills. Thanks


    Amjad Ali Ikram

    I think mix and match is an option. Do GB from ASQ and BB from IASSC.



    Now my doubt is, many of this certification require projects preferably. But where do i get the project and project data from? I do not work, so I can not get any information or data from the company. So I am clueless what should I do..!!



    Having worked with several companies in process improvement and trained quite a few DMAIC/Six Sigma practitioners I believe there is no short cut for demonstrated practical project success. Certification is simply one step in the journey, and a great guide for BoK on some tried and true practices that generate positive results.

    I have interviewed many individuals that can pass the book test, yet not successfully transform processes. They will drain a lot of time, energy and money for an organization and usually are found out within six months when they can’t produce the desired results.

    For those looking to get the project experience, I agree with those on here that talked about volunteering. There are numerous organizations that don’t have the $$’s to hire a trained professional but will open up their processes, data and business to someone that can solve some of their issues. Make sure to document your success, and when interviewing don’t be shy about how you used the methodology to solve the issue(s).



    Gents, I have never been confused as I am in my entire life following this discussion, in this part of the world that I came from certificate is highly prioritized before any employer would consider your experience. The question posted by Hall is yet to be answered, if you dont get into the organisation as an employee, where will the work experience comes from, hence, certification justificati o n cannot be swept away, however, ASQ vs IASSC methodology and approach to getting people certified are both in order in my opinion,either open or closed book, depending what to be achieved.
    Though what really need to be check by the two bodies are thier accredited training centers around the globe,some are just exam prep.

    My view.



    I appreciate Rod Howes’ tempered, respectful response. What makes sense to me is to get ASQ certification and work on a project to apply those skills and impact ROI. I agree that volunteering for a non-profit organization is an excellent way to do this but before that use any process you are involved with to test the waters (apply the techniques). Another opportunity to gain experience is to go to the small business community and help out there (local chambers of commerce are wonderful resources).

    The point is that there is no substitute for experience and unless you are currently employed with a company you are not going to get the experience you need to be an effective GB/BB (as per the experienced practitioners on this discussion board). You will have to create your own experiences and then leverage that experience, with your certification, to advance your career.

    Or simply get a job in a company and move horizontally into a possible GB position :).





    Hello to all the experienced people,

    I am a Systems Engineering graduate student in USA and I have always wanted to pursue my career in quality domain. For quite sometime I have been researching on the right certification that would upgrade my knowledge and keep me at par with the job market. I don’t have any experience with SS or LSS but I understand the basic concept of these. I want to prepare and get certified as GSSB but considering the discussion I completely agree that one should have in-hand experience in terms of projects related to the SS or LSS. But, my aim is to learn it thoroughly and look forward for an internship where I am apply the methods in real world and get the real experience out of it. Not only this but I want to be exposed to such kind of work atmosphere where I can develop these skills. Please, suggest me that is it a wise decision to go for SSGB/LSSGB for a graduate student and going for a SSC will increase my chances of grabbing an internship ? In all, I have read the discussion but I need suggestions for a person who is passionate to learn and grow.


    Cesar Gomez

    I think you should save as much money as possible on obtaining a certification. There is a big price difference between ASQ and IASCC. There is another option that i am considering which is the Aveta Business Institute its a course where in the end will obtain certification. The certification will get you in the door but in the long run whoever your consulting or working for is going to want to see how well you can apply the concepts that you learned. So I would advise obtaining a cheap certification from a reputable company but make damn sure you know the concepts and how to apply them in the organization. Application is what employees value most.


    Maurice A Tillman

    The reason why employers want certified candidates is because it’s more economical to hire a person that already understands the job that it is to train somebody from the ground up. Also, the fact that somebody took the time to gain the certification shows a lot of dedication to one’s craft. That alone makes them more appealing.

    Much of the certification body of knowledge will not be implemented in the real world, anyway. All of it is theoretical. So, taking and passing an exam is a legit measurement of what a CAN learn.

    I would suggest taking a course that requires a project. It will require one to fully understand how and when to use specific tools. Projects are lot more meaningful than open-book exams, in my honest opinion.


    Maurice A Tillman

    Yep. Aveta is very good and requires a project, which I like. However, I was a little turned-off by my GENERIC certificate of completion.


    Denis Sexton

    Hi there all, I hold several certifications with ASQ including CQE and CSSBB. I do not have much knowledge of the IASSC program (other than what I read here and on their website), but I do know that the ASQ is very keen to differentiate between a “Certificate” and “Certification” This difference is about “competence” rather than “attainment”, and ASQ certainly believe that their programs target the former. Perhaps I can offer something of my own experience outside the quality based world to define this further. I studied Engineering and manufacturing in the UK. In order to reach the status of “Chartered Engineer” in the UK, one would need to show academic attainment, normally a masters or equivalent (in North America, I think you call this “Engineer in Training”). Next you may need to go on a “Mentored Professional Development Scheme” (MPDS) which is in the workplace (if your employer is registered with the appropriate engineering institution), or some other form of self-managed formal documented study. This period of workplace based learning can be 4 to 8 years Post University, on order to build up experience. Finally, you need to align your CV with the UK spec to show how your experience has meet all the criteria (including leadership and management of technical projects). You then need to have an interview with three appointed and trained Chartered Engineers. They would then have the final word on competence.
    I am not suggesting this level of scrutiny for Six Sigma, but competence and not attainment is measured by delivery not just passing exams, although I think good theoretical knowledge is required in order to apply the tools to show and measure competence.


    Denis Sexton

    Hi Mustafa,

    I just read your second post about a University degree in Six Sigma. I am not sure I agree with that. I think University is there for you to get academic training in your chosen profession. When you understand your profession, you should learn Six Sigma to learn how to apply it in your profession. In my opinion, Six Sigma works best when it is applied as vocational training on the back of your academic and professional qualifications.



    It is hard to believe that companies are fighting over certification for a blatant farce as Six Sigma.

    Six Sigma is a management fad based on utter nonsense. It was created by a psychologist who claimed that all processes shift or drift by +/-1.5 sigma in 24 hours and this claim was based on the height of a stack of discs. (Benderizing) It went downhill from there as described in “Six Sigma Stupidity” (link below)

    Dr Wheeler, the world’s leading process statistician, calls Six Sigma “goofy”. CBS calls it the most stupid fad of all time.
    “Of the 58 large companies announced Six Sigma programs, 91 percent have trailed the S&P 500 since.”
    A survey by Minitab showed that 80% of Six Sigma projects fail (of those brave enough to admit failure).

    While Mikel Harry claimed to be the creator of Six Sigma, it all started with Mr Bill Smith who is claimed to be the “father” of Six Sigma. He had a single article to which we can refer. Mr Smith’s paper makes a bad start by showing that he does not understand the meaning of a Shewhart Chart (control chart). Mr Smith falls into the old bear trap of thinking it’s a probability chart. Dr Shewhart (Founding member, Fellow and President of the Institute of Mathematical Statistics; Fellow and President of the American Statistical Association), showed brilliance in that his charts do not depend on probability distributions. Most Six Sigma practitioners are totally ignorant of this quality fundamental and have been conned into buying statistical software to massage data before it is charted. Dr Shewhart’s assertion was later proved by Dr Wheeler, (PhD in Statistics), in his book “Normality and the Process Behavior Chart.”

    Mr Smith goes on to talk about casting parts in his workplace. He noted how parts shrink after casting and cooling. Mr Smith says shrinkage can be “up to 15%” in his process. Metallurgists who may be reading this may think Mr Smith’s “15%” is an order of magnitude too large, but hey, anything is possible in Six Sigma fairyland. Mr Smith points out that after cooling, his casting process needs to be manually adjusted to try to bring the cooled part into specification. That is, he manually changes his process after each measurement, to try to achieve a target value after cooling. A sort of control-after-the-event.

    Dr Deming warned against such process “tweaking” because it increases variation. Mr Smith didn’t seem to have been aware of Dr Deming’s advice although he did show much respect for him.

    Not surprisingly, there was a lot of variation in Mr Smith’s components. He had “as much as +/- 1.5 sigma off target”. Some simple sums yielded Six Sigma’s “metric” of 3.4 defects per million. This is the origin of Six Sigma’s ‘six sigma’!

    Mr Smith had a process that was out of control. It had special causes that caused the mean to shift dramatically and unpredictably. The farce of Six Sigma began when it was claimed that all processes in all industries, at all times, behave as Mr Smith’s did and that all processes experience the same lack of control that his did.

    Mr Smith refers to a sidebar signed by the magazine editor, Linda Geppert (now deceased). “Another way to improve yield is to increase the design specification width. This influences the quality of product as much as control of process variation does.” If quality could only be as easy as Mr Smith and Ms Geppert claimed. Don’t bother with variation, just broaden the specification limits!

    Linda’s sidebar also creates the much reproduced picture of three overlapping normal distributions. Linda claims it shows what happens when the mean shifts by +/-1.5 sigma. She claims that a variation “of as much as +/-1.5 sigma is not surprising”. I wonder how surprised Linda would be to learn that there is no limit to how far the mean can shift.

    Psychologist, Mikel Harry continued with a series of ridiculous “proofs” of Mr Smiths’ out-of-control process. The first was his stack of discs to “prove” that all processes shift/drift by +/- 1.5 sigma in 24 hours. Adding to the farce, Harry commented in one of his justifications: “the shift factor is not a statement of how much processes shift”. Other “proofs” followed, such as the claim that +/-1.5 sigma was the maximum that any process could change of its own accord. All are blatant nonsense.

    So if Six Sigma is utter nonsense, what are we to do? Follow Mr Smith’s advice of course! Mr Smith recommends: “The answer has become Total Quality Management”. After all, Motorola won the Baldrige Award using TQM before they slipped into Six Sigma and the company started its downward spiral. Mr Smith advises following Dr Deming’s principles: “His now famous ‘14 points of management’ when followed, appear to move organizations towards prosperity”. Such a pity his employer didn’t follow his advice.

    The responsibility for buy-in to Six Sigma rests on the shoulders of CEOs. CEOs are easily fooled by fast talking Six Sigma salesmen with hollow hype and outlandish promises. It is CEOs who are responsible for the “58 large companies announced Six Sigma programs, 91 percent have trailed the S&P 500 since”.

    There is nothing wrong with that part of Six Sigma its psychologist progenitor called “80% TQM”. It is the name Six Sigma, its foundations and its off shoots, that are the farce. Normalization, incorrect charting methods, dpmo, Six Sigma tables, defects targets, alienation of employees with belts hierarchies are wrong and/or destructive. While there is nothing inherently wrong with some of the material such as hypothesis testing, it is totally irrelevant to process improvement. Dr Deming pointed out: “Analysis of variance, t- test, confidence intervals, and other statistical techniques taught in the books, however interesting, are inappropriate”. Six Sigma courses are simply padded with such material to justify Six Sigma salesmen’s ridiculously high prices. While hypothesis testing was quite appropriate in Harry’s Psychology 101 class, it has no place in process improvement.

    Harry was totally ignorant about the nature of quality. He claimed that TQM, as recommended by his buddy Bill Smith, “… is a defects-focussed quality improvement initiative.” Unless you have been living on another planet, you will know that TQM is based on “on target with minimum variance”, as described by Dr Deming, Dr Wheeler and Dr Taguchi. It is Harry’s own Six Sigma that is the defects based methodology. It was precisely this reason that Dr Wheeler and Professor Deming stated “Six Sigma, and all other [specification-based] nostrums all miss the point. The sooner one wakes up, the sooner one can begin to compete.”

    Harry make the incredible claim “1.5 sigma shift factor have [sic] little to do with SPC”. It seems Harry missed the point that process improvement is the basis of quality! Harry states: “… opponents of the shift factor are absolutely correct – the shift factor has no place in the world of statistical process control or statistical process monitoring.”

    It is time to throw out Six Sigma and everything related to it. It is time to get back to basics and the fundamentals of quality.

    [Links to poster’s own articles found elsewhere removed per Forum guidelines]

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