What’s up with all this six sigma training anyways and does it really matter? Ever since Motorola came out with their Six Sigma initiative back in the eighties (now this was innovation was it not?) – the ability to reinvent a company by getting everybody to speak the same language but I digress) and Welch evangelized it, I have been wondering if this Six Sigma thing is not just a flash in the pan.
Now come on now, no other quality management system or methodology or whatever has come close to creating green shoots of spin-off industries.
First of all, let’s clarify the differences between, six sigma training and certification:
- Certification requires a rite to passage, much akin to an “initiation” whether this be in the form of an exam or written test, or demonstration of skill such as passing another belt in martial arts, or playing a difficult music piece for a music teacher
- Training requires time at being instructed of something, either by someone such as a mentor, or a coach, or why note even a trainer? This can also involve reading of specific materials.
I don’t think any other company is as driven to prove this as the PMI with their PMP. But that’s okay, we don’t want bridges to fall down, oil refineries to dry up, or dams to collapse, albeit a PMP does not replace mechanical or civil engineers, they just passed a lot of exams and have to keep their hours counted.
The ultimate question to becoming certified is whether there is any value to passing an exam – this is not the same as meeting other requirements such as number of completed projects or number of years or hours experience behind that PMP certificate or that Lean Six Sigma Black Belt.
Does passing a test make you any smarter? Does it replace or complement years of training or tracked project hours? No. I always compared Six Sigma training certification exams such as the GMAT, Six Sigma Black Belt, PMP as accessories to true knowledge: Experience.
What do you call it anyways: Six Sigma or 6S? or 6 Sigma? Seriously folks. There’s so much about Six Sigma training, online training, I wonder how much is credible.
When you visit the doctor, do you look at his final exam marks? Does it make any difference whether he got a 89% or %94? Would you not go to the doctor if you knew his final mark was 71% (with a minimum pass of 70%)?
Your manager doesn’t care that you’ll dent his working budget by several, if not tens of thousands of dollars to be “certified”. Certification in itself brings no value to a company, department, or even a small team unit for that matter. So you better ask right the first time. One trick that works sometimes is to ask something in such a way that the manner you ask doesn’t position you to get an automatic “no”.
But then again, this also works for almost anything you may ask of him. Ever hear the following, “Hey buddy, the boss is looking at the results so make sure you always over deliver. Your boss also evaluates you on the things you ask of him or the company and this includes training and certification.
Making the Case for Six Sigma Training
So how is certification going to work for you? Before you can convince someone that you should fly to Aubuquerque for a week to spend with a roomful of perfect strangers or process engineers you should ask yourself if you’ll really come out of there any smarter. That’s what I thought.
- Relevant training – make sure you present your boss with the argument of training with a subject you’re currently facing in an important project or one that will be crucial in the known near to mid future.
- Online training – is your training available online in the form of a webinar or web presentation? Many online courses are available that range from 20 minutes to four hours. Many online training seminars are self-managed meaning you can take the course on your own time or around your desk with other colleagues who may also benefit. Some online courses even offer the possibility of saving the presentation for reuse later on.
- Location – if your certification cannot be completed online, can you attend a course or seminar without impacting your day to day grind locally? When faced with the chance the training you want is not available without boarding a jet who will cover for you? Why doesn’t your manager send that person to get certified? What makes you the best candidate?
- Time away from work – who’s going to do your work while you’re away? Everybody has heard that one before (or you can argue that you’ve got a BlackBerry, laptop, and VPN access to ensure you’ve got all the bases covered.
- Cost – Courses range from $800 to $1800 a day. Online training ranges from $60 to $400.