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Six Sigma Caste system

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  • #34670

    Dave King
    Participant

    Hello,I am a Six Sigma Green Belt working at GE. I even have a masters in Statistics and I have been working there for 5 years. I have worked many six sigma projects in my years. Something has always annoyed me and I think I should express it. I love America because in america we honor what you have done with your life more than a title. So here it is, let me cut to the chase – in my experience there is no difference in knowledge level, experience, ability or value between a Green Belt, Black Belt or Master Black Belt. In all of my years I have not met a Master Black Belt that can teach me anything that I haven’t already learned in school. Yet in this world there is an implyed difference in talent. Because if six sigma were karate – what color belt would you rather have? So here is what I find annoying – we have institutionalized a Caste system. Much like they had in India pre-modernization. Where if you were born a Green Belt – you will always be a green belt and you are viewed as lesser than a Black Belt. Please give me your thoughts on why people have chosen the unfortunately classify people this way.

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    #95874

    Al B
    Participant

    Clearly a case of belt envy.

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    #95911

    John Q Public
    Participant

    To be honest, I think you’re missing the point. But I understand why.
    I’m a recently certified GE Black Belt with a very similar pre-quality background to yours – mathematics degree followed by hard-core analytical positions (marketing analysis, modeling, etc.). I suspect I could have probably taught Wave II based on my prior experience – while I did pick up a few twists on my old tools, the material was not  too different than what I had learned in my analytical positions. I’m sympathetic to your view that most quality people don’t have more analytical skills than you do – you are at their level in that dimension .
    However – after having spent the appropriate amount of time in the Black Belt role, I’ve become a lot more aware of the differences in what your average GB/BB/MBB can usually deliver. Here’s a dirty little secret – it really has nothing to do with your analytical skills.
    Good BB’s and MBB’s have three things the average GB does not:
    1 – Strong meeting facilitation and Change Management skills – the Black Belt’s secret weapon. You analyze a problem and dictate the solution back to the team…a good BB can lead a team throught their train of thought so the team can develop that solution on their own. There is a SIGNIFICANT increase in impact due to greater buy-in.
    2 – Cross-functional perspective – you never appreciate it until you actually work in a quality role, but you learn a lot about the different points of view within your organization that you never saw as a GB working in a single function. Again – this helps boost project impact.
    3 – A good BB/MBB knows how to effectively use the quality tools to influence senior management opinion about a project – most GB’s tend to spew statistics at the bosses and make them do the thinking. I’d rate the presentation and communications skills of the typical BB/MBB as being much higher than a GB, which – again – increases project impact.
    And yes…these are broad brush stroke differences…there are a ton of individual GB’s who are very good in one or more of these portions of the BB’s/MBB’s toolkit. And there are more than a few BB’s/MBB’s who haven’t mastered these skills and as a result – are marginal players.
    However – as a rule – most of the certified BB’s/MBB’s that earned their certification in the traditional fashion (18 months in a quality job, dedicated quality focus, etc.) are significantly more proficient in those three things than the average greenbelt. I suspect this is a product of experience rather than training – a BB rotation offers a lot of chances to build your communications skills while working with diverse audiences.

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    #95912

    Ashok
    Participant

    Dear Mr. Dave
     
    Time had changed.. even in India the caste-ism is disappearing(almost disappeared).  I don’t think that the GB/BB/MBB makes a difference.. it is your expertise level and the  recognition given by your company/organization for your expertise in your statistical/leadership skill levels.
     
    Ash

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    #95958

    Heebeegeebee BB
    Participant

    John,
    You nailed it on the head, my friend!!!
    A BB/MBB is expected to be an effective Change Agent.
    As for belt envy, I sensed that too.   I work with a statastician who thinks along the same lines.   He may have the math down, but he is a freakin’ wall-flower.   Couldn’t affect chg in his cubicle, let alone his work culture.
    And Ash, as for india and the caste system, what about the practice of Sati (Suttee)?   It is alive and well in India and far from being abolished.
     
    grr…….

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    #95975

    Ashok
    Participant

    Hi Heebeegeebee…
    The Sati or Sutee… is a defect and definitely is higher than the 6-7-8 sigma level.. ( as the population is in billion). This kind of defects is seen every where, including  in much developed countries where different cults and various unsocial unaccepted behaviours are still existing…. there is a common proverb in asian countries… if you point a finger towards a person..remember other 3 fingers are pointing toward yourself…
     
    Ash
     

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    #95982

    John Q Public
    Participant

    ” if you point a finger towards a person..remember other 3 fingers are pointing toward yourself…”
    I like that saying…mind if I use it for associate counseling sessions?

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    #95986

    anti Heebeegeebee BB
    Participant

    Stop blowing up your own trumpet.
    Stick to Six Sigma. There is no place for those calling themselves BB and evying the belt. They don’t even deserve to be at the job if not finding it as per there wish. As for India, I have been there several times and found the culture great. We need to know people before commenting about their culture.
    This is the greatest disrespect you have shown on this site and your comments tend to distract people from meaningfull discussions and debate.
    Hope you realize this and grow up (in mind).

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    #95991

    SK Simple
    Member

    Hi,
    I am still an infant in the feild of six sigma. This means I am still learning and this discussion was a little confusing about people talking about caste and Sati or whatever. And though Mr. Ash and others were very good in explaning things I think they are wasting their time by even replying to stupid things like Caste and creed and etc. Pls remember this that We all come to this site to learn something from each other and let us all stick to learning more about the Six sigma process and the related issues, rather than explaning things which are not concerned. Last but not the least Learn to respect everyone and anyone. You cant be a good quality expert if u dont have good qualities within urself. you have to bite the sand to dig the road and you cant do it if you deny it.
    I am sorry I too got into this.
     

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    #96001

    Heebeegeebee BB
    Participant

    Uh, actually, Ash brought up the caste System as being dead.   Unfrtunately for you, I have the freedom to comment as I see fit, so no, I will not refrain from speaking my mind.
    I never did get a response on Sati (suttee), but it seems I hit somebody’s hot button!
    My $0.02
     

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    #96002

    Heebeegeebee BB
    Participant

    Ahh, an answer!   Ash, could you please provide data to back your Assumption?   I have been researching this topic for some time and have found that it is still common, regardless of what some might believe.
    How does this apply to 6S?   Well, it doesn’t…just an interesting sidebar discussion.
     

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    #96013

    KBailey
    Participant

    Dave, you’ve raised an interesting point, but it shouldn’t be surprising.
    There’s not just an implied difference, there’s a real difference in talent – on average. There’s no USL on talent for the various belts. However, the LSL is different from one belt to another. The greatest talent range is going to be among Green Belts. At the MBB level, we want less variation and we’re going to move the LSL quite a bit.
    If you have the talent, and you want to become a BB or MBB, but are being denied the chance – I feel bad for you, but I don’t know what you’d like any of us to do about it. If you are happy in the role of a GB, but feel you deserve recognition – you may be right, but I don’t know what you’d like any of us to do about it. If you’re just venting, perhaps this will help: many CEOs owe their success to the fact that they hired people more talented than themselves to help them. A good coach can coach an athlete to levels of performance beyond what he/she could achieve. Good teachers will always be surpassed by good students.

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    #96019

    SSNewby
    Member

     
    Dave,
    I’m not certain what you were asking.  The answers certainly bounced around a lot and probably missed your point.   There are, as you seem to be painfully aware, different levels of training and expectations for Black Belts and Green Belts.  It is undoubtedly simplistic reasoning on my part, but if you don’t want to be a Green Belt any longer, become a Black Belt.  If you can’t do it where you are and want to be a Black Belt more than you want to stay where you are, move elsewhere and meet your goals.    If you’d rather stay where you are, and can’t manage to become a Black Belt there, resign yourself to there being a difference in responsibilities between your desired state and your actual state.  However, if you’d rather be (and I don’t know for certain that you are) a disgruntled pain in the duff, it probably shows and it could actually be the career limiter that you are sensing and responding to – a self-fulfilled prophesy in other words.   One of the smartest people that I have ever met began a doctoral program at the same time I did and we played tag throughout grad school.   But he became so convinced that his research supervisor and dissertation committee chair had it in for him that his attitude turned to crap and even though he did some really neat and innovative work his perception became his reality (really bright guy and many hours put in but he’s still ABD).  Message here is lighten up and look inward as well as outward for the answers to your problems.  

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    #96025

    Good Heebeegeebee BB
    Participant

    I feel really “SORRY” for you.
    You are mistaken in thinking it has hit hot button.
    Deviating from meaningfull discussions and disrespecting any culture for that matter is a shameful way of expressing yourself, a misuse of freedom given to you.
    And if you see it fit for this discussion forum then I can only say “God bless you my friend with sound mind”.
    Folks, lets focus on SS.

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    #96029

    Hemanth
    Participant

    Hi Dave,
    You have to agree on this, it was the caste system that brought about a defined role of an individual in the early Indus valley civilisation. And this had formed a cohesive developmental force in the early stages. Though, it did took an ugly turn in the later part of history
    Anyway, what you asked is a very sensitive question. To be honest there was a time when I used to boast of being able to crunch those numbers do anova manually and other candidates would gape at me..but down the line what I realised that there were candidates who might not have been good in numbers but were good change agents and they were more successful in the longer run (they completed projects on time and saved more money for the company) and ofcourse were suitably rewarded.
    So yes, if your company selects candidates based on their ability to crunch numbers believe me you are sailing a sinking ship. Six sigma is not about data only, it is a change program which targets at changing the corporate DNA. So to answer your question, if you are good at crunching numbers get yourself more exposed to soft skills and then I am sure your organisation would start recognising you as a BB / MBB candidate.
    Its like you know answering who is better a manager or a technical advisor? But who gets recognised in the end and why?
    I am spilling more bins than put them back in the can…

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    #96055

    PB
    Participant

    Hi Dave,
    If I understand your question correctly:
    – As a GB you are feeling you are not getting your due knowing full well that your education surpasses others who are either BB or MBB
    – You have much to offer but are being limited because you are only a GB
    – Like the caste system in India (where I am originally from and am a US Citizend now) you feel shunned because you are a GB and you will have to stay within the GB arena
    Dave, first, do not let this get to you as (in one of the posts the writer mentions) you will land up doubting yourself and regress/depressed. Second, talk to your manager and find out if you could move up to a BB level. What will you need to do that?
    Acquire additional skills (marketable) that will support your being a change agent. In my company, most of the projects are handled as a GB project. So they are given a lot of exposure. Maybe GE is looking to do just that as well. GE did not hire you with the specifics to make you a GB only. As long as you are working on making a difference by doing your job you were hired to do and doing the best job you have done your part.
    As regarding differences in Belts, I think that will always be there. But thank God that the caste system is on its way out if not completely out.
    PB

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    #96390

    Srikantan
    Member

    Hello,
    Infact, I wish to go further, any of these belts are not having anything plus to those who are qualified Quality Assurance experts. I am not any belt,  I have no belts in my organization, yet we have reached 5.2 sigma level. At the same time, can I do this in a large organization, No it is not possible, unless we have some kind of belts, other wise I will have to invest on these experts.  
    These belt concepts only came in because of the large establishment like GE in order to implement the six sigma across.  They needed to invent a methodology of six sigma implementation across globe, other wise it is the knowledge not the belt.
    regards
    srikantan
     
     
     

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    #96402

    Andhale
    Participant

    I thnk the response from John is just superb….I fully subscribe to his views…

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    #96450

    DrSeuss
    Participant

    Wait a minute Dave, I think you are missing a key point.  I do not think anyone will argue the ability to analyze data using statistical or mathematical skills based only on advanced degrees and experience.  The key point you are missing is that within GE, a BB or MBB is a career position.  Namely, if you aspire to advance to an EB, SEB or Chairman levels, you must be a certified BB or MBB.  It has become a right of passage.  GE’s leaders figured it out several years ago, to truly change the Six Sigma skill level within the organization, it must become part of the organization DNA.  Now a BB or MBB has a lot more meaning that just having the ability to analyze a bunch of data.  Remember the leadership traits?  Why do you think they created to additional requirements.  Also, “in theory”, who gets looked at for promotions?  Are you familiar with the PIE formula for success?  Performance, Image, and Exposure.  Wow!  Nowhere does having an advanced degree appear in that formula.  I know you can make very logical arguments for performance only based criteria for evaluating the staff.  In the REAL world, PIE rules.  Sorry…..

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    #96452

    Primantara
    Participant

    Hi Dave,
    I  agree with Dr.Seuss especially the part about PIE formula. In GE promotions , movement upward & for that matter a lateral movement from Ops or other support functions to Quality is based on Performance ,Image and Exposuree. Thats the reason why a system of yearly EMS and sessin C is simultaneously followed. Did you ever here in an EMS or Session C that a guy statistical knowledge getting promoted? I don’t think so !!!. Its all about potential the person has , his/her teamwork, ability to drive projects and at the same do process improvement involving and driving the Ops team without having any direct authority over them. Incidentally thats one of the reasons why BB’s go thru CAP tools (Change Acceleration Process) Training.

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    #96521

    Jonathon L. Andell
    Participant

    Lots of lively discussion here. Let’s try to find some common points of agreement:

    Ideally, one’s certifications should align with what one has shown she or he can do with teams, organizations, problems, data, etc.
    In that ideal situation, the Master Black Belt should represent a higher “level” than a Black Belt, which in turn should represent a higher level than Green Belt.
    There are many instances in which the ideal is not achieved.
    Failure to achieve the ideal has been rampant throughout all incarnations of quality. In every instance, the vast majority of failure is due to executive bungling, rather than to shortcomings of methodologies. Whether your practice of choice is labeled TQM, Six Sigma, or even rex the Wonder Horse – those practitioners who know their stuff do a lot of the same things well.
    Sadly, it is possible to get certification beyond one’s true qualification. I know of one company that sent people to “Master” training before they had stepped foot in a “Black Belt” class – and yes, those folks have their formal certifications. I also know some with no formal certification, who are at the very pinnacle of quality professionalism.
    The question to me is: why are we beating one another up over this?
    By the way, to answer the first question: yes, we have fabricated an elitist culture around these Belts. Often, it excludes te very people who know the most about the processes: those who do the actual work. Not an outcome consistent with competent quality management, but a reality nonetheless.

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    #96527

    Mikel
    Member

    Doc,
    You have lost your sense of rhyme and language, I guess that happens when you get to be 100.
    One thing you forgot about GE – the school you went to depends whether or not they come looking for you in the first place. There is an overdependence on the MBA programs in the Northeast.
    It is interesting that none of the folks who rolled this out to Allied or GE had a pedigree that would have got them an entry level job at GE. The top job driving this at GE was offered to a guy with a degree from a no name school from the South – he turned it down.
    Pretty wierd

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    #96531

    mman
    Participant

    I agree with you.Sure they will call it “belt envay” like “PHD envay”,let them call it but I feel that you are right .

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    #96532

    mman
    Participant

    “BELT ENVY”?It looks like a secret weapon……

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    #96535

    SSNewby
    Member

    While I fundamentally agree with you, I think that the “I” in PIE needs to be expanded to include a few intangibles that don’t revolve around record of achievement, visual aesthetics and bearing – add the undeniable halo of top tier schools (with a more degrees the better weighting) and a strong and savvy emotional IQ to the “I”, and add to “P” the potential performance edge that an MIT engineering education might well provide over small state U, and PIE rules – big time. 
     

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    #96670

    DrSeuss
    Participant

    Stan,
    You are correct about prose, the short term memory starts to fade when you turn 100.  I really don’t like saying negative things about the big GE, but I will agree with you about their policy of going after only top talent from their top listed schools.  While an ivy league education is an outstanding prize to earn, there are many brilliant and equivalent performers that hail from other great schools across our land.  Take care Stan

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    #109135

    Helen Lou
    Participant

    As the Chair of Session “Design for Six Sigma and Design for Manufacture” in AIChE (American Institute of Chemical Engineers) 2005 Spring Meeting, I would like to invite experts in this forum to present your experience of applying design for six sigma for improving design for chemical manufacturing.
    You or your colleagues can submit paper at URL: http://www.aiche.org/conferences/spring/index.htm or email me directly at [email protected]. Your contribution will be deeply appreciated.
    Best regards,
    Helen H. Lou, Ph.D.
    Associate Professor
    Department of Chemical Engineering
    P.O.Box 10053
    Lamar University
    Beaumont, TX77710
    Tel: 409-880-8207
    Fax: 409-880-2197
    Email: [email protected]

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