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Chop Shop Quality of New BBs

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  • #47088

    MBB Dude
    Participant

    Where has all the good Black Belts Gone?
    I am interviewing for several new BB positions for a new program we recently were awarded and am having a big issue finding BBs with a decent understanding of the basics.  Most of them have certifications from companies I have never heard of and I am a bit disgusted that the quality of this profession is becoming watered down.
    Any other MBBs experiencing this, chop shop type mentality with the certifications they are receiving.  We typically promote our own BBs from within, but we are at capacity for our training ability right now and have to seek outside candidates.
    I have 5 simple questions that I ask all candidates, out of the last 10 I interview, 2 were able to answer only half, the rest were just wrong.
    1.  Describe the CLT and how it is applied in the real world?
    2.  Explain the types of variation that are encountered and describe example of each?
    3.  What tools do you use to separate these types of variations?
    4.  Assuming continuous type data, what method would you use to determine if a different exists among 5 populations of data
    5.  How would I determine the relationship between 1 or multiple variables and what requirements would I use to validate this relationship
    You would be AMAZED at the people flashing BB certifications that don’t have a clue?  One would think the CLT, ANOVA, Control Charts, and regressions would be pretty well understood to be able to achieve a BB cert.  Several of the candidates have never even heard of the CLT or other types of stats basics.  My MBB beat these things into my head until I could recite them backwards.
    Kind of scary actually
     

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    #156537

    accrington
    Participant

    I don’t think it’s lack of knowledge. I think it is more like speechlessnes or bewilderment that a company interviewing for such an important position should ask such stupid, dumb questions about basic statistics.

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    #156538

    clb1
    Participant

      Why would a person be speechless or bewildered when asked a question about basics?  Every interview I’ve been on has usually included a number of questions of this type.  When I get these I treat them for what they are  – a freebie – an easy way to score some points in the opening round of discussion.

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    #156539

    accrington
    Participant

    Would ask a chemist if he knew the difference between an acid or a base, and electronics engineer if he knew the difference between current and voltage, a biologist if she knew the difference between an animal and a plant?
    When I’m recruiting, I’m more interested in what the person has done, how they did it, and what they can do for me, rather than whether they can regurgitate a text book. The fact that someone can recite the Central Limit Theorem backwards or knows what ANOVA is tells me that they are good remembering things. Essential if you are a Who Wants To Be a Millionaire candidate, granted, but totally irrelevant if you’re looking for someone who can do stuff.

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    #156541

    Ken Feldman
    Participant

    TOTALLY DISAGREE!

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    #156544

    Ken Feldman
    Participant

    Sorry, got so excited I accidently hit the enter key.  You are darn right that I would expect a biologist to know the difference between an animal and a plant just as I would expect a potential candidate for an auto mechanic would know the basic difference between a gas engine and a diesel engine.  Now, if those are the only questions being asked, then I agree that it is stupid.  But assuming the other bases were covered as to experience, what they had done and projects they completed, I would still expect some basic stat knowledge to exist.  I would be quite dubious about claims of great project success and analytical skill if they didn’t know the use of ANOVA.  You can BS about the projects and make all the claims you want about facilitation skill but can’t fake your way through the technical skills.  I would be cautious about having a surgeon do heart surgery despite lots of stories about successful cases if they were confused when I asked about the difference between a vein and an artery.  Those that claim that BBs don’t need the technical skills but should rely on leadership and facilitation are the ones that don’t have those skills.  If the BB can’t do the analytics required by a project, then who?

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    #156546

    Mick Ratiff
    Participant

    MBB Dude – tell us who the lousy certifiers are.  not only will the list generate interesting forum fodder, it might also save us some time when going through resumes. 

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    #156551

    Mikel
    Member

    Hey Darth,It’s good to see you acting like the old Darth.

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    #156553

    Ken Feldman
    Participant

    Old is the operative word.  Tomorrow is my last birthday in the 50th decade.  And to think I still do this for a living.

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    #156554

    MBB Dude
    Participant

    Couple of things.  I am one stage of the hiring process, we have HR representatives, Program Manager representatives, all whom have a chance to screen the candidate.  My job is to access the ability of the BB to be able to apply the skills they learned in training to gauge the amount of work they will need once they are on my staff.  If I am dropping them into BB position that requires heavy analytical skills, I do not have time to teach them GB 101.  Remember, these are not trained from my internal BB training and I will not water down my BB workhorses with nickel ponies.
    I am not sure on what planet a BB should not know these few basic steps.  I am not asking for the textbook definition of the CLT, however they need to understand how to apply the CLT as it is the cornerstone of a ton of stuff.  This is Day 2 or 3 of Black Belt Training.  But to never have heard it before and consider you a BB is a joke.  You however answered my question of how people are getting away with it.  A BB without the process is just a run of the mill project manager.  Everyone wants to tote they have a SSBB on their team, but if they are not properly trained, they are more dangerous then a novice.  You want to work with me, you better bring the basics, or I am going to send you home packing, period.
    Now understand a few things, I do not solely grade candidates on a test.  I look at previous projects, ability to interact with my tuff and uncomfortable questions, and their attitude.  In my little world, you have to be an extremely well spoken person with enough understanding of SS to translate it into Upper Management action.  I have found the most of my BB feel enormous push from new areas of our company that are not used to them and I work that out as the MBB as well.  But they cannot be easily discouraged as this is often a thankless position.
    Without getting too heavy into gross generalizations, I have not had great success with online only BB certifications.  I will often call the certifying MBB from some of these companies and they, in some cases, would have a hard time passing a basic GB exam.  The internally trained ones from established companies have been my greatest asset.  We have GE, Motorola, Ford, etc type BB and they are wonderful.  But I have had a few of those not perform well either in the interview and have screened them out.  It takes the right person with the right training to make my team.
    My MBB was a maniac, but he knew his stuff and he made sure we knew it as well.  After him the ASQ certification was no sweat.  I like to teach by letting them attempt after training before I correct, but that is just me.
     

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    #156555

    MBB Dude
    Participant

    P.S.  I pay top dollar for my Black Belts as well, we are not talking 50 60k more along the lines of 80-90-100k, as such I get more then my budgets worth out of them.  Most perform X 10 savings on customer satisfaction and cost.

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    #156557

    Mikel
    Member

    Want anything special?

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    #156559

    BTDT
    Participant

    MBB Dude:I remember working with some of the best MBBs at GE in the late 90s. One in particular had a great debate with me whether having defects-nondefects vs. defects-opportunities in a Chi square violated the assumption of independence enough to change the conclusions. Ah, for the good old days.Then again, I know some MBBs who could not answer some of your basic questions.Keep in mind that the first technical screening interview is designed to weed out the “chop shop” gang. If this is not giving you good candidates, talk with HR about having a better screening of initial applicants and resumes.I too, have been less than gobsmacked by online certificates.Cheers, BTDT

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    #156558

    Grasshopper
    Participant

    I’m curious, MBB Dude, what % of time do you expect your “A” players to spend drumming up projects out of reluctant process owners, or do you always have a full hopper? Where I work, it is expected that the BB will get their own projects by being a pain in the neck to managers until they agree to charter a project. Do you think BB’s are supposed to do much of that, or used purely to analyze and execute projects?
    Thanks

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    #156560

    Jim Shelor
    Participant

    At the risk of having my head beat in, a process I am quite use to, I was confused by the acronym CLT because I never heard of it.
    I checked the glossaries of four books:  Breyfogle – Implementing Six Sigma, Juran – Juran Quality Handbook, Grant&Leavenworth – Statistical Quality Control, and Siebels – The Quality Improvement Glossary.
    None of the above books contain the acronym CLT, I have never heard the term CLT, and you would have gotten the “deer in headlights” look from me if you had asked me that question and I have been doing this for 17 years.
    I do not claim to be an expert at this, but is it possible that your question about CLT is unfair and may be rattling your interviewees to the point of not doing well on the rest of the interview.
    If I totally blow the first technical question in the interview process it rattles me for a few minutes, because I am still trying to figure out what the hell CLT is.
    For some people, especially the young ones who are certified but not really very experienced, blowing the first question that badly means the interview is over.
    You may want to evaluate your interview techniques and use terms that are common to Six Sigma rather than obscure terms and acronyms that only tend to confuse and intimidate the interviewee.
    Regards,
    Jim Shelor

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    #156561

    LJB
    Participant

    Hi,
    As a new BB myself – well on the way to certification with the exam passed with a good score, one project nearly complete and the other one underway – mentoring two GBs and two BBs – and all in 3 months – I would like to comment on your question.
    I personally would have thought job interviews were more about experience, and an understanding of the methodology. Why do we have a Define phase? What are the key deliverables of the Improve phase? What is a CTQ? How have you lead without authority?
    Knowing how to run ANOVAs or SLRs, or understanding the CLT do not make a good BB in my experience. If a BB doesn’t use these tools in their everyday life, they will likely forget “where to click” to use them, but that’s what Minitab help is for, and also the support of a BB’s MBB.
    Knowing the methodology, being guided by it, and being able to lead projects to successful conclusions are surely far more important?
    Would I be a good BB if I could run a SLR in my sleep, but didn’t understand the importance of a good solid Define?
    Just my feeling – stats are important when in the nitty gritty of a project – but being able to quote them under the pressure of an interview doesn’t seem to be a good measure of the calibre of candidate that you have.
    LJB

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    #156563

    BritW
    Participant

    Both are important.  The problem I am finding from my practicing group is they rely too much on what the computer spits out without knowing when to question the results.  This does not bode well for the argument – “I can rely on the help function”.  I agree that some stats if not used regularly require a bit of research to get back in the groove.  I do it myself from time to time and find advice from trusted people here.  But in an interview, if you could not answer the questions asked by the original poster, then you shouldn’t make the first cut – they are rudimentary skills of a BB.  It might be a good practice to ask these first, weed out the onliner/no project certs, then go into detail about their results and experiences and leadership qualities.
    Having a CSSBB beside your name does nothing if you can’t critically think through the stat results AND lead the system change.  It takes both.

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    #156564

    Mikel
    Member

    Central Limit Theorem – Duh
    I am sure the interviewer would explain the acronym if necessary.

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    #156567

    MBB Dude
    Participant

    I am impressed by the ammount of responses, I was just pressing out a inquiry to see if the same problems occur.
    – We do not actually say CLT on the pre-exam, we ask the Central Limit Therom, sorry for the misscommunication.  I also accept, somthing to do with normality? or isn’t that the non-normal averaging, subgroupie thing-a-ma-bob.  Remember this is only a gauge.  I can teach anyone with a solid desire to learn most things.
    – I agree completely, a Stats only Black Belt is not a good BB at all, rather a statistician.  We have several steps of investigation, its not like I am going to discount somone because they are nervous and forgetful.  We talk about DMAIC, Lean, and DFSS concepts and how they have applied them in their unique situation.  One of my best BB’s does not have a education other then HS, but he came to me with a sincere desire to learn and at least the preparation of reading a few books by himself.  The honest truth is that most of the stuff can be looked up anyway.  I would accept an answer of, well I would use a mean test, I am not sure which one, but I have a flow-chart that I normally use to help me pick.  I will not accepta an answer of, I have no idea how to test means against each other.
    –  The stats test is simply a gauge for the candidate.  The particualar position I am applying for will require the use of DOE and Multiple regression all of the time.  In this case, I need a more data heavy person.  When I need a program manager type Black Belt, I focus more heavily on their previous projects and their attitude about effecting change with skill and tact.  I never, ever, apply a cookie cutter only skill set to all candidates, it is very “type of job” specific
    – I do not think the best idea is to have a BB bug a manager.  You will always fight the your idea not mine mentality aka Stay out of my sandbox.  When we have a combative manager (which is often), we simply have a talk with my VP and show how the project could help our group, problem solved via the gods.  We have an over-flowing bucket of projects that is always being replinished with new ones.  We have a Upper Managment that understands if they want somthing done accurately, with a paper trail, and proven ROI for their customer, their best bet is SS.  We also heavily employ DFSS for new business projects as well. 
    – I do not think that I am the next Schewart, however I have a strong focus on the basics.  I always reference my material still first, and I study theory and thoughts from the best.  Simply put, mistakes in my line of work can cost the company millions of wasted capital and time.  I am not going to be the one that the CEO comes to because my estimates or projects were wrong because I used the wrong test based on the wrongs assumptions.  Besides my co-MBB team will eat my heart with a spoon
    – I agree with the better filtering though HR, I am actually training an HR hiring manager to be a BB in a few months with hopes she can aid in the hiring process in the future.

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    #156570

    MBB Dude
    Participant

    If you have been doing this for 3 months, no offense, you should not be mentoring BBs.  Good work on moving into your own.  When you complete your 10 projects, you will look at your 3rd and laugh, as I have.  If you do not understand the basics of statistics and tool usage they you should be working with an MBB as well.  I am not aware of your particular situation, but if you learned it wrong at your experience level you will transfer it to the next BB and it starts a horrid chain.
    I experience this on occassion where a relatively good BB messes up because his prior BB taught him somthing horridly wrong.

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    #156571

    Jim Shelor
    Participant

    Stan,
    That’s typical.  Once again, you read the first two sentences and missed the entire point of the message.
    Have a good day.
    Jim Shelor

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    #156573

    Chris Seider
    Participant

    Maybe your sampling system or filtering of candidates needs to be examined. :)  Just teasing…..wish I could say the majority of BB’s out there knew the hard tools as you desired.
    Your thoughts could be answered by sampling the curriculum of the organizations teaching Six Sigma.  Heck, we all know some organizations have HAD to minimize emphasize on six sigma tools to add lean tools to their standard curriculum.  Others choose to sprinkle in lean tools and/or teach the lean methodology separately.  Some give no credence to lean…..
    Some certifying organizations even give points on the exam if questions related to history of six sigma and some of the tools are answered correctly. 
     
     

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    #156575

    CT
    Participant

    MBB Dude
    Man I feel your pain. I have noticed this for quit sometime now. I even had a corporate boss tell me she was BB and had did a whole list of Six Sigma projects prior to me joining the company. Then I started to ask for data on some of her projects and found that no data existed and in fact neither did her BB certification. No Longer with the company. It seems these days that certification is as easy as taking a test, to hell with projects and real life experience. I recently went through a round of interviews and found that a couple of guys could not even tell me what DMAIC stands for. I thought one of the poor guys was going to throw up
    Darth, Happy BDay
    Cheers all and have a great Memorial Day Weekend
    CT

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    #156576

    MBB Dude
    Participant

    Whoever posted with my name for John, that was not me who actually posted John, I did not make those comments, someone is being a wise guy.
    That was simply the point I was trying to make.  Years ago with TQM I had the same experience, I just hate to see SS get to the point where it is so watered down that it has become simply a notch to get a job and people are letting these guys get away with it.  I wish the top groups would get together agree on stardard type test and no matter who trains them, they have to have this to be a SSBB.  I know about ASQ, that was a pretty healthy test criteria, so along those lines.  I havent renewed my ASQ recently but I think it was a good start.
    Anyway I am going to get drunk while simultaneously attempting to bass fish..  Have a good weekend everyone.

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    #156579

    Ken Feldman
    Participant

    More pics of Babe of a Sister in her latest VS outfit?????

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    #156581

    Because
    Participant

    I have run into the new BB phenomenon as well.  I have a new job at a company that emphasizes the soft skills of BB’s over statistics.  The training does not spend much time on statistics. The DMAIC process spends so much time (six weeks or so) on setting up the project that I see the projects falling apart.  Being a change agent :) I am spreading the joy of statistics around.

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    #156582

    Scott Moran
    Member

    Well all I can say is that every mechanic may not specialize in every make and model of vehicles. In addition, they may not be specialists with every aspect of car repair.I do agree that every BB should have a complete understanding of the basics, but from my limited experience as a black belt, we adapt to our environments and unique experiences in our industries and companies. Just because I may not be able to recite the Pythagorean theorem, does not mean I cannot do math. I am sure Martha Stewart forgets how to blanch something every now and then.Have a good weekend.Scott

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    #156587

    CT
    Participant

    Scott
    I wouldn’t hire you either.Adapting to an environment suggest that you dont have a clue and someone will have to invest alot of time developing you into something you should already know how to do. Sorry if this is harsh, but a BB is someone who should show leadership and is really a MBB is training. Your statements to me are of the attitude of a Green Belt. You have had the training and probably done a couple projects, and may even completed some BB training. But if you dont see the signifcance of the role as a BB in every facet, then go fish brother, you too are lost.
    CT

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    #156595

    Mikel
    Member

    I had tequilla in mind, but I’ll get you pictures from the baclorette party.

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    #156597

    Old Darth
    Participant

    Tough call on this one…tequila or pics of BOAS at her bachlette party…..  I think I will have to go with the tequila….I am 59 now so that has more appeal than the pics.  Life is cruel :-).

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    #156599

    Mike Carnell
    Participant

    Darth,
    Happy Birthday. Hope you have a great day and a better year.
    Regards,
    Mike

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    #156603

    mbbny
    Participant

    BB are doers, fist and foremost…they get kicked in the nuts (or ovaries for that matter) for a living and have to respond gleefully, with a cheery  – thank you sir, may I have another….so I think the point is you can teach any monkey the technical side of the skill set, but you cant teach the ability to teach, influence (CAP…where most projects fail…in implementation) and lead.  Find me someone who can historically execute, period.  I will teach them the techs.
    And there is something to be said to just ¨pulling the lever when you see the big red button¨….asking or knowing why is not always useful.

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    #156604

    Tony Bo
    Member

    I have to agree those basic questions are important, you want them to know the basics…but I think basing your hiring on just knowing the stats is a mistake.  I have hired BBs who are very strong in the stats, but couldnt lead a team to the restroom.  So…its a balancing act…..I would strongly consider a person with demonstrated leadership/ people skills….and teach him the stats…(but then that does bring the question, how/ where did he get his certification). 

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    #156607

    Mike Carnell
    Participant

    MBB Dude,
    I don’t think your questions are out of line. Having to answer 5 pretty broad stats type questions is reasonable. I would not hire a person just because they got this 5 questions correct (which is what you said) but I certainly wouldn’t hire them if they couldn’t answer them.
    There are lots of good and great BB’s still out there and more are being trained every day. One thing you might consider is what you offer for pay (just a guess). If you don’t pay the going rate you will attract the people who are looking for a place to hide.
    Good luck.

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    #156670

    Scott Moran
    Member

    No worries, man…and lose the flattery please. I would probably walk out of an interview with you anyway.I enjoy progressive companies that judge candidates on past performance, character, and capability…not simple textbook knowledge and statistics.Scott

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    #156674

    Fake Gary Alert
    Participant

    Congrtulate  you  for  your  opinion

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    #156677

    Mike Carnell
    Participant

    MBB Dude,
    The point you make in your second paragraph isn’t indigenous to SS or TQM. It is a point that is specifically made in the book “The Deviants Advantage. The autor creates a model that shows the steps things go through as the progress/digress from the fringe (where it originates) to social convention (where the souless Yuppies take over). Loss of original content is the price of the popularity it achieves. It has to become more palatable to those who are not fringe dwellers. It wasn’t all that long ago when many of your current crop of SS consultants would have spat and rinsed their mouth out if they would have used the term Six Sigma.
    We see it every day in the use of buzz words. I am sure we will be able to track “innovation” through the same steps in a few more years. It’s the circle of life Simba.
    Regards

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    #156682

    accrington
    Participant

    I did not say I would not test the statistical knowledge of a BB candidate, and I agree with you entirely that BBs need technical skills. In my second post, I said that I would want know what the candidate had done, and HOW they did it. This is the point where I would test the candidate’s knowledge of statistical methods. A BB who can recite a text book backwards is no use to me if he/she cannot apply that knowledge to real problems. Real – life situations seldom work out like the text book says it does, and I would want to know how well  the candidate can adapt his/ her training to situations outside the classroom.
    Happy Birthday!

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    #156684

    accrington
    Participant

    Call me picky, but if I were interviewing you, and you were to recite an elementary statistics text book backwards, then mispelled Walter A. Shewart’s surname (I assume that’s who you mean by Schewart), I would be a bit suspicious about your knowledge of SPC (i.e. basics), beyond what you had been taught in your Six Sigma Black Belt course,

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    #156686

    Ken Feldman
    Participant

    Thanks for the BD wish.
    I think the bottom line on this whole thread is that an interview process should uncover two complementary skill sets for a BB.  First is the ability to facilitate a team and get things done in the organization.  This requires the soft skills. Second is to possess the technical skills to properly lead the team through the improvement process including statistical analysis.  One without the other makes for a useless BB.  Yes, you can teach stat skills.  But, if the interview leads you to the conclusion that the BB doesn’t even possess the basic technical skills, then you must wonder about the certification that they are claiming.  A competent BB certification will include capabilities in both disciplines with the soft skills being a function also of the personality of the BB.

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    #156695

    BC
    Participant

    S-h-e-w-h-a-r-t.  Call me picky, too.

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    #156696

    accrington
    Participant

    Got me!

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    #156697

    BC
    Participant

    Sorry, but you asked for it ! :-)
    BTW Accrington, there is a very short list of people on this forum whose opinions/thoughts are always worth reading.  You are on that list.  Thanks.

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    #156700

    CT
    Participant

    Scott
    If you take offense to being asked some elementary questions, then I wouldn’t consider you much of team player. Walking out of an interview pretty much confirms it. My point to this is: I have actually had a BB (certified) that could not tell me what DMAIC is.  I don’t care if you have led a team of 200 people around the world, if I’m looking for a Six Sigma BB to do projects under my management, he better at least know the process. And trust me they do exist, a bunch of them.
    CT

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    #156702

    Scott Moran
    Member

    Well it seems the aim of this discussion has drifted off course. I never implied I was taking offense to being asked any questions. I am simply saying that to determine the true quality of a BB, a simple quiz will not work. Some questions on Six Sigma are truly warranted; however understanding the candidate’s record of past performance is perhaps even more accurate of a picture.I almost failed my written test for my license in Hawaii (just moved there and had to get one) but have been driving for 13 years with no accidents or tickets. Does getting so many wrong on the test mean I am a bad driver? Scott

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