Six sigma was once reserved for the largest corporations in the world. During the last few years, six sigma has moved to mid-size and small organizations seeking a way to improve their business. Some of these companies employ a single six sigma black belt to produce project results.
Six sigma has now become so popular there are thousands of job openings for green belts, black belts, and master black belts. As a result of this huge job market, there are now hundreds of six sigma training courses and seminars.
One major focus of six sigma is the reduction of variation. The ironic fact is the six sigma training courses have huge variation, the very characteristic the discipline attempts to minimize.
A recent look at green belt courses at a few major universities looked like the difference between algebra and geometry.
Master Black Belt courses also had extreme variation – some teach the black belt to instruct six sigma, while others have an in depth study of just a few areas, such as Design of Experiments or Design for Six Sigma. This variation does not help companies when seeking a Master Black Belt.
The six sigma training landscape is such that the student must determine their needs prior to taking a course. This is difficult, especially at the green belt level. Many students aren’t even sure what six sigma is – they just know it’s in high demand.
The problem is six sigma is a very large discipline, and most people simply cannot absorb all of it by attending a few week course.
Online courses have several advantages and a few disadvantages. Six sigma online courses can offer a larger and longer course since no travel or instructor is involved. Live instructors cannot afford to deliver a 10 – 16 week course. Online courses generally have a liberal time limit. This helps the students to master the material in the six sigma black belt certification course. They get course material developed by a master black belt professionals. The 6 sigma black belt certification course helps the student gain the credentials to advance in the professional world.
Upon completion of the course, the student takes the Black Belt exam, which requires a 75% score, and submits a project utilizing six sigma tools. The project is reviewed by a Certified Six Sigma Black Belt. The Certification is then delivered to the student.
Live courses have the disadvantage of necessary travel time and costs. The advantage is the one-on-one contact, although it’s for a brief period.
Regardless of which type of course is taken, anyone pursuing a six sigma training course should obtain a good collection of books for reference. The depth and instruction within books varies as widely as training courses. Therefore, most practicing black belts have quite a collection of six sigma reference materials.
It is also important to determine the type of instruction before taking the course. Most companies are not doing six sigma for the fun of it. They want impact, which in laymen’s terms is financial gain. If a course only teaches the tools and methods behind six sigma the student is only learning a portion of the skills needed to be successful.
It is the use of the tools that will ultimately determine success. For example, anyone can learn Failure Mode and Effects Analysis (FMEA), Design of Experiments (DOE), and hypothesis testing for equal means and variances. The successful black belt knows which tool to use and when to use it. There are simply too many tools to apply them all and hope something is gained.