Wave Continuity: Green Belt Black Belt Training

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    Greetings, All!
    In November 2003 I was among the first from the Operations side of our business chosen for DMAIC Green Belt Training. After more than a year, I am the first Green Belt to complete a project.
    There are now approximately 25 DMAIC Green Belts & Black Belts within our particular organization. (Our corporation has more than 250 companies with differing certification requirements.) Within our locale only one Black Belt has acquired certification, and to date and no Green Belts have met our company’s (arguably overly stringent) certification requirements. Most DMAIC belts are diligently working projects, however several GB’s & BB’s lack skills that additional training and mentoring will provide. Many have voiced their frustrations, and a few belts have been able to somehow clear hurdles associated with project progression .
    Our Operations Director (One of our DMAIC project champions) has recently  advised that he refuses to support candidates for the next wave of GB & BB training,  scheduled for March.  While opponents believe this mandate is shortsighted and detrimental to any future DMAIC project progression, our corporate-level Six Sigma officers been unable to pursuade this project champion to consider benefits from the investment. The OD’s argument is that our DMAIC group is ‘terrible at closing projects’ and so far has shown no cost-savings evidence from any projects. He feels that we should be able to initiate and complete projects within 3-5 months, and certification requirements should be met within one year. I would agree that both would be an advantageous project and certification cycle time, however our company must make considerable improvements to support such initiatives.
    From discussions I’ve had with our company’s SS officers it appears foundation for the Operations Director’s argument lies within  miscommunications between managerial heiracrchy and SS officers–Our GB’s & BB’s  ‘Incompetence’ is a symptom, not the root cause of our inability to efficiently complete projects.
    Has anyone experienced similar frustrations? As a GB who is passionate about pursuing BB candidacy, I’d greatly appreciate any might I argue and promote benefits to our business unit for additional waves of GB & BB training?
    Thank you–



    I can understand your OD’s frustration.  6 months maximum is a reasonable expectation for project duration (if the scope is not too large).  If you are the only GB to have completed a project in the past 14 months, that is saying a lot…



    Hi Solo–
    Thanks for your reply!
    Our DMAIC belts are equally frustrated, since broken systems cause the project progression roadblocks.We’re having great difficulty understanding why those of us who also support shorter timelines are being held accountable,yet are not given access to training that could effect positive change. –What an impasse!



    Change (is good) agent:
    Oh my gosh! Where to start?No cost benefit from any projects? How were they selected as good projects to begin with?Fire your Six Sigma implementation consultants, and tag the money as a financial benefit!If you don’t have a seasoned MBB to guide the BBs and GBs, then get one. Failing that, this mentoring function should have been handled by your Six Sigma Officers.I have to agree with the Operations Director. What have the corporate-level Six Sigma officers been doing for the past 14 months if there are no closed out projects? The existing program sounds like it died out of the starting gate.My question for anyone taking this long on a project is, “If this is a serious customer issue affecting the business, why are you taking over a year to solve it?”Early in an implementation, the best projects are ones that appear to be ‘just-do-it’ projects. They can be done relatively quickly and demonstrate the use of the basic tools and methodology. This may be the first time people have worked in cross-functional teams and they have to get comfortable with it. When the data starts coming in, it usually supports the ‘gut feeling’ of the weathered old-timers, and builds the philosophy that data can be used to support decisions. “We knew it was a problem, but we didn’t know exactly how big it was,” can curry favour. They may well be some surprizes that come out of the project, but not really big ones.I prefer having more than a single GB on the initial projects to foster the team perspective and speed up the early projects. This helps to help build momentum for the program. One of the biggest mistakes is to jump on the company’s most nagging and persistant problems – this is not a good place to start learning about resistance, advanced statistical tools, communication plans with stakeholders, lack of data and change management.I wish there wasn’t an emerging industry in providing Six Sigma consulting to failed implementations. This looks like a good candidate.
    You are not the first nor will you be the last company to suffer this pain. I’m sorry that this had to happen.Dear, oh dear.



    Good Morning, BTDT–
    You’ve made some really valid points. —and, “Where to begin?” is right on.
    I only gave you part of the story: The OD made his decision based on what I believe will turn out to be misinformation. You see, the GB’s and BB’s are indeed achieving cost savings, even though few projects have been closed. There are no less than 3 reasons we’ve “seen” little or no cost savings:
    Our cost savings indicators are seated within our project tracking (intranet) software. We’ve not received adequate training for its use, and the software is not at all intuitive. Since the implementation early last summer, we (our locale AND the corporate-level SS officers) have all been working to figure out how to best use the software’s tracking elements.
    The GB’s & BB’s are entering the cost savings information under the wrong financial catagories within the software, so that the finacial results are inaccurate. (I confirmed this theory for my own project as I completed closing activities a couple of weeks ago.)
    Lastly, we are developing metrics for cost savings, and are making progress. As we identify more formulas for various types of projects, I believe the positive result will funnel down to the bottom line.
    I agree that it is appropriate for the OD to be concerned about our locale’s DMAIC progress. Based on your response, I think you and I most likely agree that our locale’s pains stem from a lack of training. Even though the OD’s argument is justified, he has created a roadblock; current GB’s familiar with project progression issues, can’t take the knowledge into BB candidacy for case study as part of their training. Our current BB’s received training “cold”, since none evolved from GB status– From a project management standpoint, I believe a significant disconnect has resulted.
    I’m really looking for feedback to take to the OD to addresses his concern, to support the business, and the DMAIC program.
    Thanks again..have a great weekend!



    I think the root cause of your issue is project scope and selection.  As stated earlier, initial projects are normally low hanging fruit – so short duration.  In today’s business environment, any project longer than 6 months would require you to revalidate your original data because the business environment has changed.  To validate the root cause, you might want to use your SS skills and talk with the GB candidates.  Use C&E matrix, FMEA, etc. and fix your existing process.  Then I would go to the champion, admit prior issues and show how you plan to fix it.  Determine what his CTQs are – project duration, $ save, etc. – maybe use a QFD to rank and score metric.



    This is exactly the kind of input I was looking for..
    Thanks so much Dale–

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