One question that has continually floated around my brain is about qualifications for business improvement people; I mean Lean Six Sigma Green Belt and Lean Six Sigma Black Belt qualifications.
Firstly the back story behind this.
I've been an avid studier of the CPA concept here in Australia for a few years now - that's Certified Practising Accountant. I first took notice of the CPA world when I started delivering professional influence masterclasses to CPAs around Australia back in 2015.
I noticed that CPA has a very sound process of first issuing the qualification, and then ensuring holders of the CPA accreditation maintain their skills through continued professional development.
I believe it's every two years they are required provide evidence of a minimum amount of study / professional development in order to retain currency of their CPA accreditation.
I asked a friend of mine who is a CPA, why he is so committed to maintaining that currency. He said it was because of the difficulty in getting the accreditation in the first place, and the fact they had to continually maintain currency in their skill and accounting knowledge to retain it.
More importantly, he said it ultimately forced him to remain up to date with changes.
Okay, so let's shift focus back to business improvement.
Generally speaking, training companies issue lean six sigma green belt and black belt qualifications after a candidate has completed training and met some specific certification criteria.
In our case, one of those criteria for green belts is evidence of competently leading at least one DMAIC based business improvement project that has generated quantifiable value for the host company.
The qualification is issued upon the criteria being met and that's it ... it remains current forever and a day.
What bothers me most about this is a couple of things.
Firstly, the fact that business improvement problem solving skills are not really developed to a high level of expertise in leading a single project.
All problems are different, industries differ, the culture of organisations are all different ... and a business improvement professional must be able to utilise and adapt methodologies according to the different contexts and situations.
And secondly, to think a one-time project leader should remain qualified at the same level as someone who is continually leading improvement work and solving problems in different contexts, doesn't make sense to me.
That's why I believe there needs to be a shift in the way we qualify and recognise currency for our lean six sigma green belts and black belts.
Host companies, and the individual, will benefit through being motivated to continually apply their business improvement skills to solve problems and to continually maintain currency in their knowledge of the various improvement methodologies.
Business improvement is a product of its own principle - continual improvement. So it is continually advancing and changing as we learn better ways to approach modern day problem solving.
Maybe a Lean Six Sigma Green Belt and Black Belt qualification should be issued with a 2-year expiry date. And then every two years the holder is required provide evidence of continued application and professional development to retain currency in that qualification.
I know for sure individuals would benefit from, as would the employing companies. And for recruitment ... we'd have more confidence in the relevance of the lean six sigma qualifications presented by applicants for jobs.
Food for thought.