Ask the Trainer: Lean Six Sigma

A: Whether your company hires a third-party vendor to provide training on Lean Six Sigma or tackles training in-house, there are a few factors that will help ensure training success, says Jason Piatt, president of Praestar Consulting (www.praestar-consulting.com).

First, he recommends finding an executive who will act as a champion of the Lean Six Sigma initiative. (Lean and Six Sigma are strategies rooted in the manufacturing industry that are aimed at improving quality and reducing waste.) The champion should be someone who can identify what projects to work on and which company leaders can handle the rigors of training.

Second, it is important to provide training to all employees, although the type of training they receive will differ. “In the best-case scenario, training is done at all levels—literally from the CEO to grassroots-level employees,” says Piatt. 

While certain employees will be selected to become certified in Lean or Six Sigma via training, other employees should receive “awareness training” to help them “understand the process, so they know how to contribute and what the goals are.”

For example, in a company of 100 employees, Piatt says three to four employees might become “black belts” in Six Sigma, while another 10 to 12 might attain “green belt” status. 

Typically, it takes about 2 weeks of training over a 6-month period to become a green belt plus 4 weeks of training over 1 year to become a black belt, he explains. Other employees might participate in 8 hours of training on basic problem-solving techniques and an overview of the process.

Third, Piatt recommends providing “training that is clearly customized to your organization” with specific examples and problems that are addressed during training.

Fourth, although large companies might have the resources to provide in-house training, Piatt advises small- and medium-sized companies to work with a third-party vendor that is willing to provide on-site support after training.

Finally, he says training should provide both “academic and hands-on application and problem solving.”

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