There is a right way to get Green-Belt certified in-class (without a project).
Sometimes aspirants to the Green Belt certification face a major challenge: having to run a Lean Six Sigma project in order to get certified.
From the start, Six Sigma certifications were earned by employees participating in their companies’ Six Sigma programs. This is still the case, but also many professionals now are being certified by universities, consultancies and professional organizations based on their ability to pass an exam.
I have earned my own Black and Master Black belts through both routes, which have advantages and disadvantages. I propose a hybrid route that brings together the best of each way.
Let’s look at the traditional ways first.
Company-run programs offer participants training suited to the company needs, coaching by higher-level belts and the opportunity to put theory to practice rapidly. Except that often this does not happen.
I have met hundreds of professionals interested in Lean Six Sigma who could have applied it to their jobs but were never invited to the program. Other employees in non-manufacturing positions had to sit in manufacturing-based training which proved confusing and impractical on the job. Yet others never got to run a program because their bosses did not want to commit to the new thinking essential to Lean Six Sigma.
On the other hand there are the third-party programs which come in all colors and shapes. The poorest offers merely give a certificate of training which may be obtained after downloading a collection of slides and passing a test – they are sold as advantageous ways of learning “on your own time” or “at your own pace,” only that students usually drag on or abandon their studies in boredom due to a lack of due dates, support and human interaction. If these vendors also offer an actual certification “belt” for reading slides and passing a test, then any responsible person should stay away from them.
Slightly better offers through professional organizations focus on passing a certification exam. Since their whole certification validity hinges on the exam, they require a form of pre-certification to show that the candidate has done this type of work already and only needs to prove his/her knowledge by passing the exam. However, if the interested person does not have this type of experience the route is closed. These organizations charge for the exam and retries separately, and some create a market of exam-prep books and practice exams to help anguished candidates cram for the high-stakes, pass-or-bust examination. If the candidate fails, then most programs require waiting a number of months before retesting, thus creating an unhelpful scarcity of certification opportunities.
Somewhat better offers add training to the certification process. This is a step forward although these programs are heavily focused on getting the student to pass a certification exam. For this reason, this approach does not foster learning but memorization of facts from a body of knowledge. Once the candidate passes the exam, he/she must still run a project to demonstrate the use of the tools and a required level of skill.
The better traditional programs, available at some universities, require a certification project and offer coaching but the candidate must find a project on his/her own. This is usually a big challenge, almost impossible to clear for any unemployed person and arduous even for the employed who must find a suitable problem, a sponsor, a team and a budget. In addition, universities move at university pace, that is, Green Belt courses that could take a week or two get stretched over a semester or at best a quarter – this is not what a manager needs for a team with a deadline or what an unemployed person needs to get a valuable certification.
None of the third-party choices listed above addresses the most important reason for the teaching and certifying, namely to learn a better way to solve problems at work.
I propose that there is a better, faster way that accomplishes both certification and learning. It is a program to get Green-Belt certified in-class, with a simulated case, without an external project. At fkiQuality we have taught this new program numerous times to professionals from all types of functions and countries with 98% certification success.
I will flesh out the details in the next posting.