Written by: Leigh Perkins // Oct 28, 2021
Last updated: May 15, 2023
More and more organizations are committing themselves to process and continuous improvement. As this trend gains ground, you’re probably wondering if it makes sense to pursue Lean Six Sigma certification. It takes time and focus to earn a Yellow Belt, Green Belt, or Black Belt, so will this process improvement training pay off for your career and for your company? Will it really improve efficiency? And what about Lean Six Sigma certification: Is it worth it?
Let’s get to the bottom line of these process improvement questions and look at the immediate and long-term benefits for you and your company.
The Competitive Advantage of Lean Six Sigma
Lean Six Sigma is the combo platter of process improvement, taking the best methodologies of Lean and Six Sigma to empower organizations to solve problems and continuously improve their techniques. Businesses that adhere to Lean Six Sigma frameworks can expect to achieve increased profits, decreased costs, improved efficiency, and a reduction in wasteful practices. These efficiency processes are so effective, more than half of Fortune 500 companies follow them.
Maximum Impact, Short Time Commitment
When companies adopt Lean Six Sigma frameworks, they’re accelerating their time savings. Why? Lean Six Sigma certification can produce better results faster than Lean alone or Six Sigma alone. Lean identifies wasteful practices, thereby setting up a boost in efficiency. Six Sigma improves performance and reduces mistakes and variance. Together, companies benefit from more tools and multiple approaches, making for more successful outcomes in shorter periods of time.
The same is true for you. Consider the time commitment to learn the practical, specialized skills of Lean Six Sigma. For the Green Belt, it’s 10 Saturdays; for the Yellow Belt, just seven hours total. Weigh that against a one- or two-year MBA.
Bottom line: Lean Six Sigma certification is worth your time (and your company’s).
The Motivation Factor
Every business wants enthusiastic, committed employees, not only because it improves corporate culture, but also because an engaged worker produces results. Having an engaged workforce improves productivity by 18 percent and profitability by 23 percent. Lean Six Sigma provides ideal conditions for improved motivation and productivity by clarifying processes and expectations:
- Defining measurement systems for all processes
- Establishing reasonable goals for improvement
- Developing standardization
When employees know what is expected of them and exactly how to hit their goals, it optimizes their motivation and engagement.
The same is true for you. Mastering the methods and tools of Lean Six Sigma, such as value stream mapping that helps you understand all the activities required to bring a product or service to completion, can motivate you to find opportunities to upgrade processes, accept responsibility for making improvements, and identify opportunities for leadership.
Bottom line: Lean Six Sigma certification is worth it to maximize your productivity (and your company’s).
Thriving in Times of Crisis
The COVID pandemic became an extraordinary proving ground for process improvement. Business as usual was a logistical impossibility. If a company was to survive, it had to make its operations more efficient and its teams ready to pivot at a moment’s notice.
Some companies did more than survive. They thrived during the pandemic thanks to process improvement. Amazon, for instance, promotes a continuous improvement culture and employs Lean Six Sigma methodologies. When the pandemic brought in-person retail to a screeching halt, Amazon was prepared to ramp up its supply chain, distribution centers, and personnel. The results? Amazon’s profits tripled in the first quarter of 2021. Applying empirical methods to create standards for new processes allows companies like Amazon to know for certain if shifting priorities and reallocating resources is adding value.
The same is true for you. When you apply Lean Six Sigma’s step-by-step approach to quality, you know in real time if your adjustments in a crisis are worth replicating. For instance, the DMAIC approach – define, measure, analyze, improve, and control – can be employed in almost any industry, in any role, for any challenge. Consider a range of high-tension business scenarios for DMAIC that don’t rise to the disaster status of pandemic, but are urgent nonetheless:
- During an outbreak, a pharmaceutical enterprise wants to develop a marketing plan for a new medicine.
- For an expensive factory redesign, a quality control manager wants to ensure robotic automation is producing optimal efficiencies.
- On a tight deadline, a software development team wants to streamline its project management methods to bring a new product to market.
Lean Six Sigma’s methodical efficiency improvements are designed for maximum dexterity on a day-to-day basis and in catastrophes large and small.
Bottom line: Lean Six Sigma certification is worth it to learn to roll with the punches in business.
And Then There’s the Money
It is often said that Lean Six Sigma produces both hard and soft cost savings. The hard savings of process improvement are straightforward:
- Reduction in cost of operations
- Reduction in transportation costs
- Reduction in overhead and inventory costs
- Reduction in personnel costs
The soft savings – a little trickier to quantify, but no less important – are due to improvements like safety, employee satisfaction, and customer loyalty. General Electric is said to have realized more than $2 billion in cost savings by adhering to Lean Six Sigma. Combined, Fortune 500 companies have saved almost $430 billion in the last 20 years.
Profitability is not a function merely of saving, but also of increasing revenue. Process improvement is designed to help your company deliver a higher-quality product or service in a more efficient way. Increased sales numbers are almost built into that equation. In fact, one study found that enterprises following Lean Six Sigma methodologies achieve 40 percent more return on investment than their competitors. When you produce great work and you’re operating at a higher capacity with fewer errors, the money follows.
The same is true for you. Just as customers pay for quality, so do employers who see the value in hiring candidates with Lean Six Sigma skills and certification. Let’s run the numbers:
- PayScale puts the average Lean Six Sigma Black Belt salary at $135,000.
- Zip Recruiter posts $91,225 for the national average for all belt levels.
- Zippia reports job growth for Lean Six Sigma Black Belts is projected to increase by 8 percent.
Bottom line: Lean Six Sigma certification is worth it to increase your salary and advance your career. And it is worth it for your company, which will benefit from the cost savings your process improvements produce.
It’s Worth It to Check Out USF’s Lean Six Sigma Courses
If you’re ready to be a process improvement leader and get on the fast track to promotions and higher pay, browse USF’s upcoming Lean Six Sigma Yellow Belt, Green Belt, and Black Belt courses. In just a few live online sessions, you’ll be prepared to make improvements in your organization’s processes and achieve career success.
Plus, we have a special offer for corporate clients. If your organization has a group of 10 or more, USF can provide a dedicated session just for your team, possibly at a group discount.