What Is Lean Six Sigma?
Lean Six Sigma is a collaborative team effort to improve performance by systematically removing waste and reducing variation. The methodology has gained worldwide acceptance as a framework for continuous improvement.
Why Get Certified?
It all started with early adopters in the automotive industry. Today, all industries—including the Life Sciences industry—are hiring Lean Six Sigma Experts to oversee the strategic implementation of the framework.
In addition, many organizations are training their employees in the “Lean Six Sigma” framework. This makes getting upskilled in the methodology an excellent idea, especially if you are involved in your organization’s Quality Management function.
Easy Steps to Get Certified
Now that you understand the importance of getting certified, let's go over five easy steps to achieve exactly that.
Identify the Right Certification Body
Many global Certification Bodies offer the Lean Six Sigma certification. However, since no government or academic standard describes the syllabus and certification process, you’ll need to review a number of options and make your own decision. This can be confusing, so we’ve created a breakdown.
Some of the most renowned Certification Bodies are as follows:
- American Society for Quality (ASQ)
- International Association for Six Sigma LLC (IASSC)
- Benchmark Six Sigma
- Indian Statistical Institute
The American Society of Quality (ASQ) is the world’s most recognized Certification Body. It conducts open-book Lean Six Sigma tests. This article will help you prepare for exams that are similar to the ASQ Six Sigma exam.
Decide on Your Belt
The “Belts” in Lean Six Sigma are similar to karate belts, albeit with fewer levels. The levels denote the depth of knowledge and experience you need to master the Lean Six Sigma framework.
You should aim for the White Belt if you only recently learned about Lean Six Sigma. Employees will be introduced to the basic terminologies of Six Sigma and do not need prior experience to get their certification.
In addition to concepts from the White Belt, the Yellow Belt includes an introduction to basic statistics. It may require one or two years of industrial experience, depending on the rules set out by the Certification Body.
This level is more advanced than the Yellow Belt and may have additional quality tools and statistical concepts in the syllabus. Depending on the Certification Body, it may also require two to four years of industrial experience. In an organization that follows Lean Six Sigma philosophy, Green Belt employees are expected to execute day-to-day activities under the guidance of a Black Belt employee.
More advanced than the Green Belt, this level requires significant experience in industrial quality management (at least four years). A knowledge of higher statistics—equivalent to a master's degree in the field—may be required. Employees may also be expected to complete couple of Black Belt projects before they appear for the exam. For this reason, you may want to finish a few Black Belt projects with the help of a mentor before working toward this Belt. You may also need a letter of project completion from your mentor. Depending on the Certification Body, you may need to earn a Green Belt before obtaining a Black Belt.
Master Black Belt:
This is the most advanced stage, as the name indicates. The role of the Master Black Belt in the Lean Six Sigma team is to identify projects with significant commercial impact. Your organization’s top management should aim for this level.
Study the Syllabus
All the Certification Bodies have a similar syllabus, but with slight variations. For example, there are minor differences in the number of quality management tools included in the syllabus. Still, it is essential to study the syllabus carefully to identify the certification body that best suits your needs. Moreover, the certification process also varies based on the body; here as well, employees can identify the exact differences by studying the syllabus.
Three critical considerations while studying the syllabus include:
Syllabi for different Belts:
Does the syllabus vary across different Belts? For example, in the case of the ASQ, the Green Belt and Black Belt syllabi are almost the same. So if you have relevant experience, you can skip the Green Belt exam and appear directly for the Black Belt exam.
The quality tools most relevant to your job role:
If you have existing ideas on the quality tool that’s most applicable to your job role, make sure the tool is covered in your syllabus. For example, if your job role requires in-depth knowledge of Failure Mode Effect Analysis, then you should ensure this quality tool is covered in your Lean Six Sigma institute’s syllabus.
Your job responsibilities:
If you are a team leader, then you might also need to learn team management skills, which are generally included in the Black Belt or Master Black Belt syllabus. The same applies to individual change leaders who are not directly managing teams but need team motivation skills to get things done. Therefore, it makes sense for team leaders and individual change agents to go for a Black Belt or higher certification.
Start the Training
Just as there are several Certification Bodies, there are multiple ways to prepare for the Certification.
Most people who learn Lean Six Sigma are quality professionals who are familiar with the concepts. For this reason, the self-study option is highly recommended for those who know at least 60% of the coursework. These applicants can purchase course materials or handbooks to start revising the content and teach themselves new concepts. Remember that the Lean Six Sigma exam is an open-book test (at least for ASQ). This means that getting acquainted with the handbook or the training material can go a long way in getting certified. Self-study is not only a cost-effective option, but also the solution with the highest success rate. During this process, you can bookmark various chapters and concepts that may come in handy while writing the exam.
Massive Online Open Courses (MOOC):
If the majority of the course content is new to you, then you can start familiarizing yourself with it using MOOCs. Remember that the coursework of your MOOC may vary from that of your institute. Nevertheless, you can expect it to introduce you to 75% of the syllabus. Once you are familiar with the coursework, you can start your self-study as recommended in the above option. Some of the well-known MOOC platforms are Udemy, Simplilearn, edX, and Coursera,
If you find it difficult to self-motivate or attend MOOC lectures, then you can always opt for classroom training. Classroom training is the most expensive option listed here. Almost all Lean Six Sigma institutes provide classroom trainings; however, in the case of the ASQ, classroom training is optional, as candidates can appear directly for their certification exam. Conversely, with Benchmark, for example, the classroom training is mandatory, and the institute will issue a Certificate for being “Trained in Lean Six Sigma.” You can also make a group of Lean Six Sigma students and invite independent Lean Six Sigma experts to train you on your coursework in a classroom setting.
Paid Online Training:
Paid online training has become synonymous with classroom training because of the pandemic. Still, you can consider this option as an alternative to classroom training.
Appear for the Exam
The last step in getting certified is appearing for the exam! Most institutes ask students to prove their knowledge of the subject matter by passing the exam. This allows the candidates to earn their certificate by demonstrating their expertise. To appear for the exam, you need to plan the exam date first. The best time to schedule your exam is when you have completed at least 75% of the training. This will give you a better idea of your preparedness and also the ability to manage your schedule based on the planned exam date. Generally, Certification Bodies organize the exams several times a year. This means you can choose the time when you’ll be the most prepared. Once you have chosen your exam date and paid the fees on the website of your preferred institute, all you need to do is prepare and sit for the exam!
If you plan in advance and follow the above strategy, you will probably do quite well on your exam. The exam will give you a sense of purpose, allowing you to spend less time in wasteful activities like aimlessly browsing through materials. With that, we hope this article will help you start your preparations and get Lean Six Sigma-certified as soon as possible. We wish you all the best and hope you pass the exam with flying colors!