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How Do You Use Six Sigma?
Depending upon how intense you are as a project manager, especially when using the Six Sigma Methodology, this guide may offer some truths about Six Sigma training and if you’re using the methodology correctly. If you’re a novice or use it occasionally, no matter what level of training or certification you have, you’re probably not really a Six Sigma-type of manager—you just think you are.
Quality Digest offers that, “A Six Sigma certificate is only as good as the skillset upon which it’s based." That’s certainly a true statement—meaning your entire team could be Six Sigma certified and trained but if you are mediocre in your practices, are you really using Six Sigma?
On the other hand, if you’re religious about the phases of DMAIC or DMEDI, follow the phases to the letter and understand the importance of how Six Sigma is a quality process that hopefully, if used correctly, will ensure success, you’re using your training at a higher level.
Finally, if you’re skeptical and worried about the myths and truths about Six Sigma training and want your team certified in the methodology, is one certification center, college, or university better than all the others to receive that training?
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You’re Only as Good as….
Before we discuss how you use Six Sigma, what about the entire certification process for obtaining that Yellow, Green, Black, Master or Champion Belt? The truth about Six Sigma training is that most organizations may find either an onsite or online training program, get everyone certified and jump into the methodology.
Here, organizations need to consider how prepared they are if they simply pass a Six Sigma certification test—what about Six Sigma tools and templates—what is necessary to use Six Sigma at the highest level?
For example, the ASQ Learning Institute offers both Green and Black Belt training and certification. The difference in this training/certification is that to become certified you have to provide sample Six Sigma projects you worked on that were successful and be able to explain how you utilized the phases of Six Sigma.
Some organization that offer Six Sigma training may just offer the training itself and a promise of certification (passing a required test) but offers no verification of your use of the methodology or follow-up. With the ASQ certification, one must re-certify from time to time to stay on top of Six Sigma tools and best practices.
Ford Motor Company, once a Total Quality Management believer, has implemented the use of Six Sigma and beyond just becoming trained and certified, Ford tracks its certified teams by rating their projects on various performance levels.
So, we can see one truth about Six Sigma training and certification is that merely being “trained" is not the same as using the methodology on a regular basis or having your performance levels graded throughout your project management career.
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Train, Certify & Use
Quality Digest suggests that if you plan on training your teams to use Six Sigma, to explore the various programs available. Because there are so many organizations and consultants offering Six Sigma training, it may be a good ideas to find out the background of the company or consultant.
Ask how long they’ve been training and are tools and best practices constantly updated? Are the trainers themselves certified and do they maintain their certification status by additional training? Does the organization look at new trends in Six Sigma or do they only teach the basics?
The IABLS or Institute of Advanced Business Learning Systems is also similar to ASQ where before certification can be achieved, the trainee must provide real examples of using the methodology, endure a double interview process, and are also graded on their knowledge level before certification is offered.
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The Bottom Line
If you have some concerns on the truth about Six Sigma training and the certification process, it’s best to explore the organization offering the training—in depth and ask a lot of questions.
Simply going through the training steps, doesn’t mean you’re certified and passing a certification test may not mean you are on top of your game when it comes to this project management methodology.
In today’s global project management world, network with other companies that utilize Six Sigma, inquire about where training and certification was obtained and explore support websites such as iSixSigma to fully understand and evaluate how well you’re using Six Sigma.
As you evolve, you may even consider utilizing Lean Six Sigma to keep the quality in your projects, but streamline the process.
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