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Why go for certification?

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  • #41952

    Diorio
    Member

    When a company decides they want to be a Six Sigma company, do they generally say “we want x number of black belts/green belts/bbm’s” or do they say “we want to solve problems effectively.”  I will assume the latter, and then ask, why bother getting certifications for people?  Thanks for the input.

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    #132152

    Cynthia A. T.
    Participant

    I have that same question.  I’m deciding whether it is worth the personal investment to get certified when my organization does not support the six sigma methodology per se. 
    We follow very closely to six sigma and other continuous improvement models, but I have no current plans to leave my company, so am I really going to benefit from getting certified?

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    #132155

    Mike Carnell
    Participant

    rich,
    When the idea of Six Sigma took hold outside of Motorola it was about transforming a company. Certification was an ancillary effect. Unfortunately certification has become an industry of its own. There are entire companies built around delivering certification and no clue how to deliver a  deployment.
    As far as do they ask “how many BB’s” or “do we want to solve problems effectively.” The former is always asked and typically gets that canned response of 1% which in a lot of companies is pure crap. We dlivered 3X on our goal last year with 0.1%. In a deployment there are a lot of factors that affect what the right number is for that particular business.
    I have never heard anyone say they want to solve problems effectively. We get “improve EBIT’, “lower cost” (mike Cyger’s personal favorite), a bigger gap between me and next closest competitor, etc. Most companies believe they do solve problems effectively and most believe that all the low hanging fruit was gone years ago. When we launched at Motorola the assumption was we were a 3 sigma company – we started out way behind because that wasn’t even close.
    Just my opinion.
    Good luck

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    #132157

    Mike Carnell
    Participant

    C.A.T.,
    If the company doesn’t follow it and you aren’t leaving where is the benefit? It doesn’tlook like there is any upside to me.
    Just my opinion.
    Good luck

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    #132158

    Ken Feldman
    Participant

    Process improvement and improvement tools have been around forever and people have attempted to implement change and improvement for as long. Why then, have most organizations failed to accomplish much change? Is it for lack of trying? Probably not. Is it for lack of effort? Probably not. Is it because the process for improving has not been structured and supported/driven by senior leadership? High likelihood. DMAIC has provided a sound framework for improvement and a structure for doing it. Much of that structure includes the Belt system. Certification by a credible organization provides some assurance that the change agent (BB/MBB) has mastered some level of SS proficiency. Whether you decide to become certified for personal reasons is a function of what you are looking for. Are you wanting to move into a professional position as a SS change agent? Then yes get certified since that is the ticket for admission. Do you want to acquire some knowledge of the tools and then use that knowledge in your current role to make things better, then don’t bother with the formal training. Does your organization seek to hire college graduates? Why? Given the variation of degree requirements and graduation criteria, does the degree guarantee knowledge and success? Not likely. Then why do we want college graduates, licensed electricians and other professionals who have demonstrated some level of competency by completing a credible “certification” process? Same goes for SS professionals.

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    #132160

    Mike Carnell
    Participant

    Darth,
    That ought to confuse her – one says yes and one says no. You sounded much more profound but I think I told her what she wanted to hear.
    Hope you and Mrs. Darth had a nice holidays.
    Regards

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    #132164

    Ken Feldman
    Participant

    Thanks Mike, we had a good visit to Santa Fe with some of the kids.  Hope you and your’s had a good one as well.  Guess you are in town for a while.  Catch me offline and fill me in on what’s going on in RSA.

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    #132196

    Diorio
    Member

    Thanks for the feedback. I’m not as interested in personal certification as the responses indicate.  Let me be a little more specific with the question.  My company hired me to lead an effort to impove the discipline and structure for problem solving.  Obviously, SS is a way to accomplish this, and this is one of the things we might do.  What I am getting at is do I want to step down the path of training people in SS.  If I do that, do I then want these people to pursue certification? 
    My background is in a different statistically based problem solving methodology, which also is great at providing structure and discipline.  But DMAIC should be the guidline for any problem solving strategy (IMO).  Can I get that thinking instilled WITHOUT executing a full SS program?

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    #132202

    A beer
    Participant

    Rich,
    Although my company does certifiy belts, I believe that it was a mistake.  Certifying can drive the wrong behavior.  I believe in rewarding people for doing a good job, but certification is not necessarily the right thing to do.  There is a variety of certification programs out there having a various citeria for getting the certification.  It should be what you know and can apply to benefit your company and your customers is what is important, not having a plaque that says you did at least x,y,z.
    As earlier posted, most people want to know how many belts do you have, when the real question should be, how effective is the work that they are doing.  So, certification is not important to the success of any program.
     

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    #132203

    Jered Horn
    Participant

    It sounds to me like you’re not completely sold on the Six Sigma methodology.  If not, and you think something else would work better, that’s fine.  I don’t agree with that, but that’s just me.
    If you think/believe DMAIC is the way to go, my recommendation would be to deploy a full-fledged Six Sigma program.  The requirements of certification are key to successful Six Sigma deployment (among other things).  It’s part of the methodology.  Without it, it’s watered down…most likely, will not be successful…and you’ll breed another group of Six Sigma critics.
    That’s just what I believe.

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    #132208

    Chris Seider
    Participant

    A beer,
    Hmmmm.  I find your posting interesting.  Are you one of those certified belts?  I take pause when someone rails against the certification because I’ve found those who haven’t gone through the rigors of training and project(s) don’t appreciate the extra effort it takes.  Often those belts are the underappreciated for driving change which is so much more difficult than just doing the status quo.  The belts who get certified officially often have the beaming smiles in the room because it was worth it.
    I prefer to think of Six Sigma certification as a “measurement” of the success of the training organization creating the Black Belts and of the organization accepting the Belts work.  The measurement has even more value if the attribute of certified belt means something concretely (e.g. project success, proven tool usage, etc.).  I have always thought any organization that wants Six Sigma and the metrics that go with them would want to know success rate of belt development.

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    #132212

    A beer
    Participant

    C Seider,
    Yes, I am one of the certified people.  I achieved my black belt and master black belt certifications.  I have had training.  The bare minimum for certification at my company is at least two projects, lead events (we do both lean and sigma) and save at least $1,000,000, train green belt material, and conduct events at other facilities, pass a written test and be interviewed.
    I am for rewarding people for their work. I believe that currently with no standards, that just being “certified” is not enough.  I have experience with certain organizations where you can sit through the class and they will “certify” you as a black belt. 
    I could create a bunch of paper tigers, give me x amount of money and I’ll give you this piece of paper.  Or I could even abuse my companies own certification system by providing a person with easy low hanging projects with high dollar impact, spoon feed them the answers to the tests and the how to pass the oral interview.  A company without any true knowledge of six sigma would then hire these paper tigers thinking that they have the real thing.  This is what waters down any system.
    Perhaps I could phase myself better.  I am not for the current method of “certification” for the industry because I question the measurement system.  There is no standard.  I applaud organizations like ASQ who are trying to come up with there own standards, but it is impossible to verify that the person has truely used the tools (you have someone send a letter stating that you did the projects or you could do very simple projects).  Eventually, someone will make money by “aiding” people on how to pass the test.
    For me, in the long run, because I have only my experience, blood, sweat and tears to go by, is why I make the statement – I believe in the tools and how to use the tools is the true telling of a belt, not a plaque or piece of paper.  If you want to know of the success of Six Sigma program, I wouldn’t go by the number of belts, I would go by improvements made.

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    #132215

    Chris Seider
    Participant

    I like the statement “with no standards, that just being ‘certified’ is not enough”.  It puts us both in the same camp if that is the case.
    I am skeptical that an industry standard for certification will exist since the large companies with long deployments in place won’t care and the few (tongue in cheek) companies helping those with deployments or training won’t agree with a standard.  Heck, I have personally seen training materials for Black Belts from 6 organizations and they don’t even agree on the basic tools–there is such a wide variety out there! 
    I shall leave us in general agreement. 

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    #132225

    Mr IAM
    Participant

    Go for the certification if you like the Six Sigma stuff.  If you don’t, find something you like and do that.  Work to live, don’t live to work.
    Wow, that sounds really wise!  :-)
     

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    #132242

    Mike Carnell
    Participant

    rich,
    I don’t think anyone comes away from any training (maybe some of the cult stuf is an exception) worse off. I do have a problem with trying to accomplish Six Sigma without a deployment. To actually transform a company takes a pretty focused and aligned effort.
    As far as just trasining some people in the tools the analogy I have used in the past is like one person owning a walkie talkie. Basically you will get this person or several people whoi have a skill set that is not part of the company strategy and the projects can quickly becon unaligned. At that point the program will atophy and die. The other issue is that if you watch the organization it will take a person (group) that has a new behavior and try to pound them back into the status quo mode without the impetus of a deployment behind them.
    The fact that you are not a BB I would consider a strength. You will see things from a slightly different perspective which isn’t a bad thing. Our last two deployments have been at BHP Billiton and Lonmin and in both deployments the deployment leader was not a certified belt. Both produced great results but the thing both deployment leaders brought to the party was a different perspective with a common goal.
    Just my opinion.
    Good luck

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    #132251

    Darth’s Grandmother
    Participant

    I like  to  be  trained ,but  not  to  go  through the ASQ BB Certification.An  engineer with  wide  experience in manufacturing  ,TQM ,ISO  & Change Management.
    Have participated in 4 distance  learning Quality   & Six-Sigma  Programes(Quality Management,GB-SS,Lean-SS,SS-BB…..etc).Is  that  fair  enough?or  still  need  to  go  through  the ASQ BB Exam.?? 

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    #132256

    Ken Feldman
    Participant

    Grandma honey, why don’t I just come over one Friday night for some of your famous chicken soup and stuffed cabbage and I can certify you.  In fact, if you want I can even commit you to the closest ALF.  Sorry Granny, watching TV is not the same as actually getting in the trenches and using the tools.  NO CERTIFICATION FOR YOU!!!!!!

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    #132276

    Darth’s Grandmother
    Participant

    I  will visit you  soon.Just  wait   for  me.I  will  be  proud  to  be  certified  by  you.At  least  you  would  not  charge  me.e

     

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    #132890

    Irish Ray
    Participant

     
    Hi CS
     
    I am new to “six”. I find it hard to comprehend that there is no widely recognised standard certification program. Surely in this techno era anybody that has completed an “in-house” certification program should be able to sit general tests set by an independent six sigma governing body, or have their certification process reviewed to ensure that it met set standards. Is there such a governing body? Or is there an opportunity to set one up?
     
    Self-certification is a thorny issue, very subjective and open to vilification – there should be a standard just as the accountants have and the MBAs if six is to survive and grow.
    Perhaps six sigma should be applied to six sigma certification!
     
    In the hope you don’t find my comments too naive
     
    Ray

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    #132896

    Talaid
    Participant

    I agree with Darth, certs lend credibility to you and you never know when cercumstances will change. There is no such thing as job security anymore. Certs are a big plus in the job market – I’ve been in an out of that several times, certs can be a foot in the door with companies that take Continuous Improvement seriously, and they can affect your pay scale.
    Andy L

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    #132899

    Gutierrez
    Participant

    ok, andy, they obviously digressed in answering your question into a great debate over whether to go for your certification or not.  the bottom line is, despite the debate it’s one more thing for your resume.  you’re not looking for a job, but god forbid if you end up looking for one and the one checkmark that would help you get the interview is the cert.  it won’t necessarily get you the job, but it might increase your chances of getting in the door. 
    as for the great debate, people that know statistics and how to apply them can get by and do well.  the idea that the cert makes sure someone knows them is not always accurate–i’ve known certified bb’s that haven’t got a clue.  one the other hand, i know many more that are outstanding.  but when you talk to them, if you know what you’re doing you can tell them apart.  as for a company’s commitment–that’s based on company culture.  as for the cert guidelines, well, i think we should count on the mbb’s to catch those people that are somehow slipping through the cert process.  if the commitment is there and the mbb’s aren’t just sliding everyone through, then overall six sigma should produce quality people…standardizing is a wonderful idea and ASQ is the way to go there, but i fear that you gentlemen confused andy more than helped.  i understand all the quirks and jerks to the great debate and you had my head spinning.   

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    #132907

    Black Belt Boy
    Participant

    I was a “company certified” black belt, but we took no tests, or even the homework or any other way of validating what we learned. I brought this up on why we don’t do that.  It was more of 4 weeks of sitting in class, partying at night and getting my certification. I had to correct my own master black belt during the training because of wrong information he was teaching!
    Getting certified is great, but we all know people who were great test takers, but couldn’t apply anything in the real world. I am a “let my work do the talking”, not did you use all the tools to solve the problem.

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    #132908

    tracker
    Member

    I agree that if you believe in the methodology, you should go for a reputable certification.  If you learn the tools and you are able to apply some in your job, that’s great, but following the entire DMAIC roadmap and realizing which tools apply and which don’t to a specific project is the the test of a good BB.  The test, the tools and documented savings prove that you are commited to the SS ways and are a valuable employee.  Even if the company does not value the certification, they will value the savings!

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    #132923

    Talaid
    Participant

    Alex,
    I couldn’t agree more. Its commitment from the top down that establishes the corporate culture. If those at the top are willing to follow through on CI, whatever tool used can work. 6 Sigma has an amazing track record as a CI tool in so many companies.
    As far as having the certs for your personal career development, Ive had to change jobs a few times I found they can be a great plus to any resume, especially when you can talk about specific WOWs you were responsible for.
    Andy
     
     

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    #132930

    Jonathon Andell
    Participant

    Companies beginning a six sigma journey often ask about how many “belts’ they need, and how much it will cost, and of course “when will we see the money?”Those who become mature and proficient at six sigma tend to ask more systemic questions: “What does this organization need to do better?” “How is our management going to change to make that improvement happen?” Somewhere along the line, questions could arise about how to incorporate six sigma into this.The companies that never make the transition most often are the ones who bad-mouth six sigma as empty hype.

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    #132969

    Johnny Guilherme
    Participant

    I agree with your opinion. How is it going Mike, long time no hear. Are you still in Rustenberg??
    regards
    Johnny Guilherme

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    #132987

    Mike Carnell
    Participant

    Johnny,
    It has been a while but I took some time at Christmas.
    I was in Capetown last week to start a new deployment. We still have the Lonmin deployment going but the MBB’s are strong and are taking ownership very quickly. It has been a great deployment.
    How’s the reactor project?
    Regards

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    #133062

    Johnny Guilherme
    Participant

    Mike our reactor project is taking shape. We are busy with the conceptual design. I have an external consultant (expert on vacuum) to help with the design. Implementation will happen during the course of the year. I see that you are having a seminar on six sigma at the Castle in Kahalami. I would love to have attended, but your costs per delegate are pretty high. Anyway hope all continues to go well with you.
    Johnny

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    #133072

    wtf
    Member

    I dont exactly disagree with Mike and Johnny on this but i’d like to offer my opinion as a not yet certified ss user.
    Maybe i see it from a different perspective.  I have been studying for my cert for about a year now off and on.  My company doesnt exactly embrace SS like some, however; I feel like i approach problems much differently now than i did 1 year ago.  Learning the SS tools isnt always about big projects to me.  It seems to me that people who comprehend the methodology often come up with different answers/approaches to problems.  I feel like my performance and my reputation has been enhanced greatly by the knowedge i have gained while preparing for my certification.  Do i really NEED the certification?  Probably not.  But I’m pretty sure i wouldnt have become such a student of the methodolgy had i not intended to take it. 
    Also, i really love it now.  It’s giving me new reasons to come to work every day.
    I guess my answer is:  No, you probably don’t “need” certificaton but setting it as a goal will probably help you more than you think.  If you intend to learn any SS at all i highly recommend certification as a goal.
    I dont believe that investing your time learning the body of knowledge is a waste, even if your company gives you no formal recognition.
    SS should be about results, not certification.  Usually results are achieved by setting goals.  Having a goal of certifiation to me seems like a reasonable way to achieve the result of actual knowledge that you can someday use on the job to achieve the necessary real world experience that is needed to harvest bottom line results.
    Set a goal.
    good luck
     
    wtf
     

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