Join Early Retirement Today
Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
Six Sigma and Other Certifications
Old 03-03-2007, 08:10 PM   #1
Full time employment: Posting here.
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Posts: 714
Six Sigma and Other Certifications

[I'll post this here, as it may create $$ for those who consult and work in process improvement.]


Anyone on the forum with process certifications such as Six Sigma, or LEAN, or Did you find it truly valuable? In what context did you receive the certification? Did it help you become a better business person, better leader, a better change agent in your company / organization? Which certification would you recommend, if you're familiar with more than one? Cost? Time requirements? Any downsides? Suggested reading / books / web sites?

In sum ... if you have such a certification, how do you now view continuous improvement / best practices / excellence in business management? Was it worth it?

Or, are these certifications more along the lines of the business book flavor-of-the-month BS, so common in popular business lore?

Thanks.
__________________

__________________
Craig is offline   Reply With Quote
Join the #1 Early Retirement and Financial Independence Forum Today - It's Totally Free!

Are you planning to be financially independent as early as possible so you can live life on your own terms? Discuss successful investing strategies, asset allocation models, tax strategies and other related topics in our online forum community. Our members range from young folks just starting their journey to financial independence, military retirees and even multimillionaires. No matter where you fit in you'll find that Early-Retirement.org is a great community to join. Best of all it's totally FREE!

You are currently viewing our boards as a guest so you have limited access to our community. Please take the time to register and you will gain a lot of great new features including; the ability to participate in discussions, network with our members, see fewer ads, upload photographs, create a retirement blog, send private messages and so much, much more!

Re: Six Sigma and Other Certifications
Old 03-03-2007, 08:45 PM   #2
Recycles dryer sheets
Arc's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2006
Posts: 370
Re: Six Sigma and Other Certifications

Six Sigma Greenbelt here. Interesting and legitimate process more tailored for the manufacturing environment - highly volume of identical tasks. My projects were done in the Finance / Office environment with some benefit. The part where it got is goofy is in the actual measurement of savings. For our megacorp - it was more important to report savings than to actually experience savings - then comes the loss in credibility.

I'm not sorry I got certified - it has and will help me down the road. Megacorp covered all costs - actually has a group of focus dedicated full time to Six Sigma. Hope that helps.
__________________

__________________
Arc is offline   Reply With Quote
Re: Six Sigma and Other Certifications
Old 03-03-2007, 11:28 PM   #3
Recycles dryer sheets
 
Join Date: Jul 2005
Posts: 423
Re: Six Sigma and Other Certifications

I also was involved with six sigma/lean initiatives at my previous megacorp job. I agree that it is most easily adapted for manufacturing processes, but I worked particularly in the software group and found some parts of it handy.

Kaizen events in particular work well, and the whole idea of a formalized method of improving processes (DMAIC). Creating specific metrics are also a good idea, except that your system begins to evolve into "how to make the metric look the best" once in a while.

It certainly looks good on your resume if you want high visibility as you will work directly with upper management. I would say that it isn't really a business topic du-jour, as it has been around for quite some time now. Motorola and GE made a giant splash with it in the late 80s I believe, and it still is touted as one of the best process improvement methodologies around.

I was actually watching CSPAN a few days ago and noticed how many of the "keywords" have worked their way into the business vernacular. I heard army generals using words like "value-added", lean, etc.
__________________
Olav23 is offline   Reply With Quote
Re: Six Sigma and Other Certifications
Old 03-03-2007, 11:38 PM   #4
Thinks s/he gets paid by the post
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 1,152
Re: Six Sigma and Other Certifications

I am a software engineer. Our MegaCorp experimented with Six Sigma and it was a complete disaster. It does not work well in creative areas. If someone deals with our group and speaks highly of Six Sigma, I am automatically suspicious of that person's common sense. All of my colleagues feel the same way and not just at my company but my colleagues at other companies in Silicon Valley. Many actively (and wisely, IMO) hide the Six Sigma certification they got a few years ago.

Kramer
__________________
kramer is online now   Reply With Quote
Re: Six Sigma and Other Certifications
Old 03-03-2007, 11:52 PM   #5
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso)
Give me a forum ...
youbet's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Chicago
Posts: 9,965
Re: Six Sigma and Other Certifications

Six Sigma Black Belt; ASQC CQE and CRE; APICS CPIM.

All interesting reshuffling of bodies of knowledge involving statistics, problem solving and business management. None improved my performance beyond forcing me to adopt their jargon. All helped get recognition and promotions, or at least dodge RIF's.

None mean nearly as much to me as my final certification: FIRE.

FIRE helped me improve the most important process of all: living my life!
__________________
"I wasn't born blue blood. I was born blue-collar." John Wort Hannam
youbet is offline   Reply With Quote
Re: Six Sigma and Other Certifications
Old 03-04-2007, 12:07 AM   #6
Thinks s/he gets paid by the post
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Location: Mesa
Posts: 3,588
Re: Six Sigma and Other Certifications

Six Sigma? Lean?

Ieeeeeeeeeeeeeee. . . .

Thank the gods I'm retired.

__________________
sgeeeee is offline   Reply With Quote
Re: Six Sigma and Other Certifications
Old 03-04-2007, 02:12 AM   #7
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso)
Give me a forum ...
 
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 13,251
Re: Six Sigma and Other Certifications

Quote:
Originally Posted by youbet
Six Sigma Black Belt; ASQC CQE and CRE; APICS CPIM.

All interesting reshuffling of bodies of knowledge involving statistics, problem solving and business management. None improved my performance beyond forcing me to adopt their jargon. All helped get recognition and promotions, or at least dodge RIF's.

None mean nearly as much to me as my final certification: FIRE.

FIRE helped me improve the most important process of all: living my life!
Sorry to hear that...

I did process improvement work for many years... cost accounting etc.... and it was not any of the various 'programs'... just ordinary improvements...

When our company went Six Sigma... I saw some weird stuff... they 'cooked the books' as it were... measuring stuff that did not mean anything... and then made those numbers better to get 'savings' (read fire people)... so now the others had to work harder as the process was really not improved at all, but we had less people...

I was never impressed with any black belt that I had met... maybe youbet is different, but I am zero for oh... 10...

BTW, nobody talks black belt anymore.. I think the exec that loved it got shuffle out the door in one of the mergers.. now we just throw money at stuff and hope it improves... or just say 'IMPROVE' and claiim it has...
__________________
Texas Proud is offline   Reply With Quote
Re: Six Sigma and Other Certifications
Old 03-04-2007, 06:18 AM   #8
Full time employment: Posting here.
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 684
Re: Six Sigma and Other Certifications

Anyone on the forum with process certifications such as Six Sigma, or LEAN, or

Yes, Lean Six Sigma Black Belt

Did you find it truly valuable?

Yes

In what context did you receive the certification?

5 weeks training, 2 years on the job using the training (the true learning part)

Did it help you become a better business person, better leader, a better change agent in your company / organization?

Yes, yes, yes. The first year was tough. A lot of resistance, a lot of doubters. It is challenging to implement change in a complacent or organization in denial. I was fortunate to have a leader that helped me naviagate through the resistors, and towards those that got it.

On the better person part, it has helped me with my FIRE plan in many ways. I often use some of the tools, such as goal deployment, process mapping. What is "value" is certainly a key part of it, and LBYM is part of the business strategy of any good business. That said, there are many other ways to achieve success, and Six Sigma and Lean are just one method. As one poster noted, some of the earlier work has been repackaged.

Which certification would you recommend, if you're familiar with more than one?

I would vote for Lean over Six Sigma, but if you can get both, that is best.

Cost? Time requirements? Any downsides? Suggested reading / books / web sites?

Be prepared to take a couple years of "doing" before you get it. Go to

http://www.lean.org/

A couple downsides. You feel like a consultant sometimes, no real home. Getting back into the organziation can be a challenge, especially if you want to go back to your old job for a variety of reasons.

In sum ... if you have such a certification, how do you now view continuous improvement / best practices / excellence in business management? Was it worth it?

Totally different perspective. One of the best things is that you see the whole operation from the General Manager to the custodians. They have a lot in common, but some differences, obviously. Absolutely worth if for me.

Or, are these certifications more along the lines of the business book flavor-of-the-month BS, so common in popular business lore?

Not at my place. We have been doing it for about 8 years, and the CEO is actually accelerating it. You have to have some structured method of implementing continuous improvement. Throwing money at it, and hoping it sticks is inefficient in my humble opinion.
__________________
48Fire is offline   Reply With Quote
Re: Six Sigma and Other Certifications
Old 03-04-2007, 06:41 AM   #9
Full time employment: Posting here.
DRiP Guy's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2006
Posts: 546
Re: Six Sigma and Other Certifications

Both Lean and Sigma. Certified ASQ CQMa.

Bottom line: Lot's of great principles, the programs are not the problem.

The problem is that the reason executive management gets interested in such initiatives is typically herd mentality, fear due to sinking business metrics, lack of ability to think originally, and/or a need to be seen doing 'something' by shareholders and board of directors.

Against that backdrop, many initiatives masquerading as Lean or Sigma are just window dressing, with no sustained will or logical ties to a cohesive strategic vision behind them.

IMHO.
__________________
DRiP Guy is offline   Reply With Quote
Re: Six Sigma and Other Certifications
Old 03-04-2007, 08:49 AM   #10
Full time employment: Posting here.
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Posts: 714
Re: Six Sigma and Other Certifications

Folks, thank you very much for excellent feedback.

48Fire ... thank you for nailing every one of my questions. This is great help.


I was involved in a QMST (Quality Management Steering Team) years ago ... kaizen ... involving all levels of employees in the process. When honestly pursued, worked great. Unfortunately, there were a couple of senior executives that didn't think technicians should have any input, intimidated people, and eventually damaged the process until it withered away.

I well believe a very structured approach can aid and speed the move to make quantum leaps, and continuous leaps in optimizing businesses. I appreciate the counsel.
__________________
Craig is offline   Reply With Quote
Re: Six Sigma and Other Certifications
Old 03-04-2007, 10:33 AM   #11
Full time employment: Posting here.
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 684
Re: Six Sigma and Other Certifications

Yes, if the sr. execs take that approach, it does not work well at all. One of my challenges is to put them in their place, and if they still don't get it, then they mysteriously get "reassigned" or "retire ".
__________________
48Fire is offline   Reply With Quote
Re: Six Sigma and Other Certifications
Old 03-04-2007, 11:38 AM   #12
Thinks s/he gets paid by the post
 
Join Date: Sep 2006
Posts: 1,685
Re: Six Sigma and Other Certifications

I worked for a divison of my present megacorp that instituted six-sigma. Of course in 2000 Motorola was all the rage for it's performance and six-sigma was given the credit. At the time Motorola stock was 80 it is now 18. GE the other big proponent was at 60 it now is at 34.

It is at it's heart a bureacracy enabler, the division of megacorp I was in implemented it and has since lost 50% of it's business. The problem with six sigma from my view is the internalization inward and that the process is the problem and if you fix the process all is well.

This removes the leader of the corporation from the position he/she is being paid to do and that is to lead the company and places the burden on a "implementation" process improvement. Since individual employees want to advance the goal inevitably is to REPORT great results so all innovations or improvements a company has are credited to six-sigma or it's ilk, as the CEO wants. The inevitable happens and another company will enter into the competition and give the customer what he truly wants and not care about six-sigma reported results.

As was stated elsewhere it is great for internal promotion of the individual but of limited use to a corporation.

As a nation none has implemented this more than Japan, the value of the stocks in the Nikkei 225 remain 60% below their level of 1990 more than 17 years ago.
__________________
Running_Man is offline   Reply With Quote
Re: Six Sigma and Other Certifications
Old 03-04-2007, 12:15 PM   #13
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso)
Give me a forum ...
youbet's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Chicago
Posts: 9,965
Re: Six Sigma and Other Certifications

Quote:
Originally Posted by Running_Man
As a nation none has implemented this more than Japan
I don't think that is true. The Japanese implemented SPC under Dr Demming's leadership post WW2 and are still strong advocates of SPC. SPC and Six Sigma are two entirely different animals. SPC certainly paid dividends for them as their automobiles and consumer electronics knocked ours off the map in terms of quality.

Don't take this as defending Six Sigma. Despite being a Black Belt, I'm not a huge fan. I was just trying to dodge being RIF'd before I was ready to RE and going through the quick and easy process of certifying helped keep me off the "list" at a time when Megacorp seemed determined to leave no one over 50 on board!

Anyway....... don't confuse SPC and Six Sigma.
__________________
"I wasn't born blue blood. I was born blue-collar." John Wort Hannam
youbet is offline   Reply With Quote
Re: Six Sigma and Other Certifications
Old 03-04-2007, 02:52 PM   #14
Full time employment: Posting here.
DRiP Guy's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2006
Posts: 546
Re: Six Sigma and Other Certifications

Quote:
Originally Posted by youbet
Anyway....... don't confuse SPC and Six Sigma.
Terrific point. SPC is good stuff, pure Deming-ese -- "Ruthlessly drive out variation" and "Don't count the cost". So many good ideas have been out there, but people lose currency, andd so things get rebundled and resold to the executives as the latest new thing.

Box and Draper did a lot of solid stuff in the fifties that if people understood and applied it, would blow any of these charm-school Powerpoint programs-of-the-month right out of the water.

I am almost sorry sometimes that I am so near FI/RE, because if I was a young turk, I might take some of the lessons learned, and beat these guys at their own game -- show how a truly lean (note small "L") and focused organization could not only return shareholder value, but also keep the employees energized as well as produce a quality product.

I see so much disaffection and disconnection and really just plain old 'phoning it in' in US corporate culture these days, and it permeates from the Boardroom to the loading dock. It really worries me. WWII kicked us in the pants; I wonder if we will need something that stark to do it again...
__________________
DRiP Guy is offline   Reply With Quote
Re: Six Sigma and Other Certifications
Old 03-04-2007, 04:27 PM   #15
Thinks s/he gets paid by the post
2B's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Houston
Posts: 4,330
Re: Six Sigma and Other Certifications

Quote:
Originally Posted by DRiP Guy
Terrific point. SPC is good stuff, pure Deming-ese -- "Ruthlessly drive out variation" and "Don't count the cost". So many good ideas have been out there, but people lose currency, andd so things get rebundled and resold to the executives as the latest new thing.

Box and Draper did a lot of solid stuff in the fifties that if people understood and applied it, would blow any of these charm-school Powerpoint programs-of-the-month right out of the water.

I am almost sorry sometimes that I am so near FI/RE, because if I was a young turk, I might take some of the lessons learned, and beat these guys at their own game -- show how a truly lean (note small "L") and focused organization could not only return shareholder value, but also keep the employees energized as well as produce a quality product.

I see so much disaffection and disconnection and really just plain old 'phoning it in' in US corporate culture these days, and it permeates from the Boardroom to the loading dock. It really worries me. WWII kicked us in the pants; I wonder if we will need something that stark to do it again...
In my far too long a bonded servitude career, I have seen them come and I've seen them go. Six Sigma is just the latest fad and I see it fading fast. Six Sigma is based on Juran's "Quality Projects." It's a direct knock off with a slick, glossy cover. We could probably fill a thread with all of the new "processes that will drive successful businesses for the rest of time." I personally think that good management hasn't really changed since the pyramids were built and so few do it right.

SPC was real big in the 1930's but it pretty much died away after WWII. In my first j*b out of college, SPC was used but it died when the new plant manager had never seen it before. By the end of the day it was gone due to the initiative of the first line supervisors and workers. I was a Crosby Zero Defects instructor and heavily involved in the reawakening and later repeated death of SPC.

Bottom line, don't count on some fad certification to be worth anything for very long as a part-time consulting gig. They come and they go. Something new will hit soon.
__________________
The object of life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane -- Marcus Aurelius
2B is offline   Reply With Quote
Re: Six Sigma and Other Certifications
Old 03-04-2007, 04:43 PM   #16
Recycles dryer sheets
 
Join Date: Jul 2005
Posts: 423
Re: Six Sigma and Other Certifications

I think, in general, the more certifications will never HINDER you. Some places will have different sorts of respect for someone with educational credentials vs real world credentials.

I work as an engineer with many smart people. One particular engineer who I initially had a lot of respect for, turned out didn't even finish college. Though his skills as an engineer didn't change, I felt a bit of prejudice form in my own mind. I guess the blade can swing both ways on this, someone overly educated without any experience, etc. But in my mind, I sort of replaced his title of "Software Engineer" with "Programmer from ITT Tech" in my mind. Is this logical? Of course not.

No system is ever perfect. In computers, every other week another language/paradigm pops up and becomes the HOT NEW THING. You can remain curmudgeonly and do things just as you did before, or you can embrace it and learn small bits from each of them and enhance your own toolbelt. You might think it is completely inappropriate, but if something is suddenly making a lot of noise, you should at least give it a once over and take what you can. It just makes you a well-rounded individual and that can never be a bad thing.


__________________
Olav23 is offline   Reply With Quote
Re: Six Sigma and Other Certifications
Old 03-04-2007, 08:03 PM   #17
Dryer sheet wannabe
 
Join Date: Aug 2005
Posts: 24
Re: Six Sigma and Other Certifications

YouBet pretty much nailed it. Have worked in technology mfg mgmt 20+ years; most of these concepts and programs are just common sense approach to solving business issues and driving out waste.

I think there must be a group of quality managers that meet every few years around a keg and think - how can we come up with different terms to solve the same business problems and drive up our consulting costs or give us more reasons to make our dept's larger ......
TQM
JIT
Six Sigma
Kaizen
Lean
ISO
now RoHS
__________________
streamjp is offline   Reply With Quote
Re: Six Sigma and Other Certifications
Old 03-04-2007, 08:12 PM   #18
Full time employment: Posting here.
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Posts: 714
Re: Six Sigma and Other Certifications

Interesting to see your comments ... I had an interview Friday, and the CEO was a great intellect. Clearly very well read, and this was not an empty suit ... one of the brightest minds I have ever encountered.

He pressed me as to why I had never gotten a certification, since I take a scientific approach to business, and have a solid resume of true continuous improvement. I told him that while a structured approach like LEAN, Six Sigma, etc. probably has benefits, I felt much of this was common sense: having a clear mission, building a great team of people, communicating the mission, setting goals, variable compensation plans that reward performance (and often paying just a bit more than "market"), being honest with folks and thanking them sincerely ... and coming in everyday to make the company better, and better and better. Etc.

I think he understood the intuition, but he was clearly a guy that is big on the structured approaches. I don't even know if I really want the job, but it was a fascinating interview, and does have me thinking about various things.


BTW ... if you haven't read it, try "Fifth Wave Leadership" (Shechtman) ... not a great title, really, but some interesting psych stuff that sounds very pertinent.

Thanks.

__________________
Craig is offline   Reply With Quote
Re: Six Sigma and Other Certifications
Old 03-04-2007, 08:13 PM   #19
Full time employment: Posting here.
DRiP Guy's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2006
Posts: 546
Re: Six Sigma and Other Certifications

Quote:
Originally Posted by streamjp
TQM
JIT
Six Sigma
Kaizen
Lean
ISO
now RoHS
QFD
Taguchi
WEEE
JGPSSI
VOC
NOAC
DMAIC
DFSS/DFx
CMM
...
__________________
DRiP Guy is offline   Reply With Quote
Re: Six Sigma and Other Certifications
Old 03-04-2007, 08:17 PM   #20
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso)
Give me a forum ...
HFWR's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2005
Location: Lawn chair in Texas
Posts: 12,964
Re: Six Sigma and Other Certifications

Quote:
Originally Posted by streamjp
TQM
JIT
Six Sigma
Kaizen
Lean
ISO
now RoHS
QFD
Taguchi
WEEE
JGPSSI
BFD... :P

So many buzzwords it sounds like a beehive...
__________________

__________________
Have Funds, Will Retire

...not doing anything of true substance...
HFWR is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply


Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


 

 
All times are GMT -6. The time now is 05:44 AM.
 
Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.