Six Sigma has been developed 20 years ago and fine-tuned by many companies since then. However, there is no ISO standard or something similar guiding the deployment or regulating the certification of the key players, Green Belts or Black Belts. There is only one key requirement that helps distinguish between success and failure: business results.
The easiest task in the journey to deploying Six Sigma or similarly Lean Six Sigma is the training of Green Belts and Black Belts. Many training companies have discovered this gold mine and produce hundreds of Belts every year. For small money, nearly everyone can attend twenty 3-hour evening sessions led by trainers who have hardly run any projects to become a Green Belt including certificate. Taking this certificate, attaching it to the CV and going for the next job application is a question of days.
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Against the common belief, statistical knowledge is not a criterion for selecting your Belts. However, the capability to acquire new technical skills, to apply these skills successfully is an important prerequisite. More important is the aptitude to involve, motivate, coach and train people, to lead and manage teams towards delivering results and to communicate effectively with different levels in the organisation.
A study by iSixSigma Magazine about the importance of different skills and characteristics for a successful Black Belt (“The Hard Truth About Soft Skills,” January/February 2008) was showing that Communication Skills is by far the most important requirement. Leadership Skills came in second and Technical Skills third. The question for the importance of Soft Skills for different roles in the Six Sigma deployment was answered by 72% for Green Belts and 99% for Black Belts with important or very important (5-point scale). Soft Skills include Communication, Collaboration, Team Leadership, Change Management, Time Management as most important to the success of the Belt. Continue reading →
Your Lean Six Sigma initiative has taken off well, project teams led by Belts have done a nice work and results are in. Good job so far! However, this is the rather easy part of your journey. The more difficult part is about retaining and accelerating the trained Black Belts and Green Belts (Belts).
Talking to both, Lean Six Sigma consultants as well as their clients, paints a surprisingly consistent picture: Nearly half of the companies who kick-off a Lean Six Sigma initiative lose some of their Belts shortly after certification. Another tendency which is alarming: we are not talking about one or two Belts who resign at that point in time, a considerable 20 – 30% of the first batch of trainees may decide to leave.
So, what went wrong?
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Globalisation and instant access to information, products and services continue to change the way our customers conduct business.
Today’s competitive environment leaves no room for error. We must delight our customers and relentlessly look for new ways to exceed their expectations. This is why Six Sigma Quality has become a part of our culture. Jack Welch, GE
What is Six Sigma?
First, what it is not. It is not a secret society, a slogan or a cliche. Six Sigma is a highly disciplined process that helps all kinds of companies focus on developing and delivering near-perfect products and services.
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