T.M. Kubiak, corporate director, Sears Sigma, Sears, Roebuck and Co.
My company wants our Black Belts to be certified,” I often hear. Why would a company deem certification important? Typically, varying skills and technical capabilities exist among Black Belts (BBs) and Master Black Belts (MBBs). As a result, projects are not appropriately defined or addressed with sufficient rigor, thus delivering lackluster or delayed results. Also, the organization may not have a defined body of knowledge necessary for growing and developing, hiring or promoting its Six Sigma professionals.
To understand how this could happen, look no further than a few job search
websites, such as www.
careerbuilder.com, www.monster.com or ASQ’s site, www.asq.org. These websites boast hundreds, if not thousands, of postings for certified BBs and MBBs. As many organizations have jumped on the Six Sigma bandwagon, the need for trained professionals has grown exponentially in the last few years.
With the demand far exceeding the supply, the inevitable occurs: Companies hire less than qualified individuals. To combat this, hundreds of third-party organizations, such as consultants, universities and nonprofits, have developed curriculums directed at training and certifying BBs and MBBs in short order. This has exacerbated the problem Six Sigma professionals despise the most—variation.
In considering a certification program, five options come to mind, as outlined in Table 1. The table also provides a list of advantages and disadvantages for each option as I see them. You may see them differently. Consider this a basis from which to start.
Some readers may believe the table is biased toward option 5 and certifications from organizations like ASQ. Perhaps it is, but for my money, ASQ provides the lowest cost, highest quality alternative with its Six Sigma BB certification exam offered at a frequency sufficient to meet just about anyone’s demanding schedule.