One of the first questions you are likely to face when talking about your Lean Six Sigma training is whether or not you are certified. And while it sounds like a simple yes or no, we’ve found it is rarely that straightforward.

The problem arises because some people (and even some training organisations) assume that because you have successfully completed your training course – and received a certificate to that effect – that you have been certified. Indeed, this is the case for many other qualifications. However in this case, the certificate you receive for completing your training course, regardless of whether you had to pay more for it, is just that: A certificate of training. It does not make you certified, and that is an important distinction.

So how do you become certified?

You can only become certified by completing at least one successful project and, if you are a Black Belt, expect to have to do two or more. Your project will have to illustrate your understanding of the Lean Six Sigma methodology and the tools available. It will have to show that you understand when it is suitable to use one tool over another, and indicate clear reasoning behind those decisions.

Talking at Interview

It should also showcase your soft skills: The ability to influence those in a position of power or authority; the capability to get people on board with your project in order to achieve the best results.It will have to show that the company in question benefitted from your project. This doesn’t have to be cost saving; it could be cost avoidance, prevention of hiring new resource or even the ability to keep existing staff on. It should show some benefit to the customer – either internal or external – such as improved quality, shorter wait time or a more standardised, less confusing way of doing things.

What else?

But to become certified, we can’t just take your word for it that you have delivered these things. Each project will have to be reviewed by an experienced Master Black Belt to ensure you have fulfilled all of the requirements. In most cases this is a Master Black Belt who has worked with you in your training so they can provide more coaching and support where you need it, however it is often reviewed by an independent MBB to ensure it ticks all the right boxes.

In order to present it for review, Belts must have an accurate, properly filled out project storyboard and project charter, which documents their progress at every step of the way.

Once a Belt has successfully completed and submitted all projects, they can apply to become certified. However, it is worth noting that newly certified Belts are still inexperienced, and many organisations will want to see more than one successful project under your belt in order to trust your skills. When it comes to project work, more is better as the more you do the more experience you’ll gain and the deeper your understanding will be.

What you need to remember, when you purchase any training course, from any training provider, is that one day you will be sat in an interview chair explaining why your qualification is valid for the role you want. You give your company and any future employer the best chance of success with Lean Six Sigma if you can say you’ve followed the best practice approach and have fruitful past projects to show them. While best practice certification is by no means a quick result, it will pay dividends in the long run.

Check back in a couple of weeks for our next update in this series.

If you’d like help or advice about any of the issues raised in this article, get in touch with our team of experts on 0800 066 3749.