Friday, October 3, 2008

Lean Six Sigma

I stopped collecting initials many years ago. You know the ones I mean, the certified this or bonafide that. There's nothing wrong with those initials. In fact, it's helpful for organizations to standardize a body of knowledge. It certainly simplifies training and communication in general. I just realized that at some point, it was getting silly. For instance, I have a Master's Degree from an Ivy League school in Engineering Management. Do I really need to go through the process to become a certified engineering manager? I don't think so.

I confess that I am an ASQ Certifed Quality Auditor (CQA). I needed to learn more about how to perform effective audits, so I did. I took a course offered by ASQ, and stuck around to take the exam as well. I'm proud of that certification, but it was just an extension of the learning.

I have decided to expand my skillset more, and so will be collecting a couple more initials. I recently enrolled in a Lean Six Sigma Black Belt program. I've used the tools for years, but think it's time that I formalize that knowledge and expand my skills even more. I'm really looking forward to it!

There have been some recent criticisms of Six Sigma. I recall a Business Week article claiming that Six Sigma stifles innovation. There is some truth to that, and in response, there have been several new initiatives such as Design for Six Sigma. In addition, Six Sigma practitioners have been bringing forth many new, and some old, innovation tools, such as TRIZ.

I'm excited about the program. I'll keep you posted as I move through the program, which starts in November. If you're a Six Sigma practitioner, will you please share a brief synopsis of your project(s)?


Pivotal Resources, Inc said...

Hi Blake,
Hope you will have a positive experience while becoming a Black Belt. Just FYI, here is the response Pete Pande sent to Business Week after the article you mentioned in your post:

I've spoken with executives at 3M who felt the lessons of Six Sigma inspired them to challenge assumptions, share ideas among formerly insular global divisions, and push past previously accepted limits of how they could serve customers. To them, it was not simply a cost-cutting exercise.

If today's leaders are to heed many of the comments in these articles, it seems we should expect a wave of increased inefficiency, growing defect rates, and slowed-down processes leading to a wave of brilliant breakthrough innovations. Or perhaps smart leaders instead will tell people that the real key to being competitive and having a great place to work is to be efficient, accurate, fast, and innovative. That seems like a more appealing vision to me and one that ought to inspire as much creative thinking as simply having more "play time."

Peter Pande
President, Pivotal Resources Inc.
Co-author, The Six Sigma Way
and What Is Six Sigma?

Hope this is of some interest to you...I am working with Pete on our expansion in China so feel free to contact us anytime to talk about opportunities you might see there for Lean Six Sigma!

For more info about articles we contribute to:

Best regards,

Laura Garnier

John said...

It's great to nail down credentials with a certification. It just seems like the icing on the cake, and does add credibility, but also a degree of both breadth and depth to your background. Good luck!
John Reiling, PMP, MBA, PE
Project Management Training Online
Lean Six Sigma Training Online