However, there are two forms of six sigma black belt certification. The first is the dry run, in which the student will perform some real projects under the watchful eye of a senior trainer or instructor. The second form is what is known as the real test, where the student will complete a real life project (usually in an industry scenario) and have that project give results. The difference between the two types is simple: The dry run provides a short-cut to learning the material, while the real project allows the student to put what they learned into practice. Therefore, I believe it makes more sense to take my six sigma certification as a dry run, since that means the material learned can then be put into practice immediately, without having to take a year’s long course.
Why do I recommend the dry run as opposed to the six sigma black belt? It’s really quite simple. Imagine running a small department of ten, and the only six sigma experts are the ones who’ve been put on the job. Now, I know you might think that by putting these people together in a large department, there will be cross training of knowledge and skills, and therefore a much higher level of expertise. The problem with this method is that anyone can get in, and therefore everyone can be an expert. The black belt is actually higher up the corporate ladder, and therefore the responsibility for training others falls into the hands of the senior supervisors, and not the actual Six Sigma professionals.
The six sigma black belt, however, has already been trained, and therefore can do the job of any of the senior management. Therefore, they already have the “experience” and the knowledge that any of the senior management will need. They also have a clear path ahead of them, because they took the black belt exam and passed. This gives them more credibility than anyone who hasn’t already been six sigma certified, since the black belt certification was created to only be awarded once. This also puts the burden of proof on the shoulders of the six sigma experts.
The big problem with this, of course, is that there are so many six sigma experts out there, and that makes it very difficult for any company to get one as a trial and error pilot. The company will need someone to design the methodology itself, and train the staff under the supervision of the Black Belts. However, the company cannot get this person if they don’t know what they are doing! What do you do when your Six Sigma Black Belt is a messiah figure, but doesn’t have any experience? You need someone like Hanlon Frick, or Robert Kaplan, to step in and show the company what it is missing.
The other problem is that this will create a huge vacuum where there should be ample room for other people to step in and start to work. The problem with working in a vacuum is that you are not really solving anything. You might get lucky, but more likely than not, you will end up with the same result, because the first six sigma experts are now the company’s six sigma black belt. You will have created a new problem, which needs a new solution!
If you are going to use Hanlon Frick or Robert Kaplan to help you get this right, then you will certainly need an entire overhaul of the methodology. This might be an even bigger problem than the training, because you cannot change the company from within. This is why some of the Six Sigma Black Belts are promoted, so that the company can get help from outside. However, if the company is too big to manage, then you are simply spinning your wheels and wasting your money. You need a leader who can make a vision and then turn it into reality.
So, although the methodology of six sigma is not perfect, it is still better than using just black and white paper. The method will certainly help you get results and reduce the cost of production, but to get the best results, you need to have Six sigma experts working on the project. The best place to find these is in the company website – look for links to the six sigma experts.