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9 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Do A Lean Six Sigma Black Belt

You’re thinking about doing a Black Belt

…But rumour has it, it’s not for everyone.  A Lean Six Sigma Black Belt is a phenomenal asset;  it can help boost your career and significantly enhance the organisation’s performance.  So, what are the reasons why you shouldn’t do a Lean Six Sigma Black Belt certification?


1. Numbers aren’t your thing.

You shouldn’t do a Black Belt certification if numbers aren’t for you – it’s as simple as that.  One of the key skills for a Black Belt is developing their understanding of how to interrogate large data sets using statistical analysis, so if the thought of that fills you with dread, then this Certification may not be for you!

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2. You don’t see yourself as a change agent.

As a Lean Six Sigma Black Belt, you will go out, meet people, be a champion for Process Improvement, present to leaders the benefits of a process approach, be a pioneer for addressing the bottom of the hamburger (the socio-emotional and political realities), all with the goal of developing intrinsic motivation for change and a culture of Continuous Improvement.  If you groan at the very thought of doing this type of work and prefer working on your own, being responsible for your own tasks, you may not be best suited to the role of a Black Belt.

3. You don’t habitually widen your knowledge base.

Being prepared to invest time in widening your own knowledge is essential to being an effective Black Belt practitioner.  Any training course will only go so far.  You will need to read articles, listen to podcasts, read books, and review case studies.  We know that doing this isn’t always easy, but if you’re not prepared to make space in your daily schedule or spare time, you shouldn’t do a Lean Six Sigma Black Belt certification.


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4. Your role is rooted in a single team.

Think about how much of your work is focused on your local team, department, or location.  A Black Belt typically gets involved in cross-functional projects.  Therefore, without the authority, remit, and leadership support to be able to work on system-wide interventions for Process Improvement, it’s likely you won’t succeed as a Black Belt.



5. Your organisation does not recognise or value improvement methodology.

Your Black Belt training could be wasted if your organisation, Management Team, and Leadership Team haven’t signed up for Lean Six Sigma as an Improvement methodology.  You simply won’t find opportunities you need to apply the knowledge and skills.

Among the many responsibilities of Black Belts is being the stewards and owners of the methodology in the organisation, but if the method isn’t valued by the leaders, you could find that people perceive the Certification as a ‘hammer to crack a very small nut’.  Some organisations aren’t mature enough to understand the conclusions that come from deep statistical analysis, so take a good look at the problems you face and ask yourself if they are complex.  If the answer is no, and you’re able to figure out the right solution using a less statistical approach, then it could be a strong case as to why you shouldn’t do the Lean Six Sigma Black Belt certification.



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6. You’re the only Improvement Practitioner in your organisation.

What is the size of the improvement community where you are working?  It might sound counterintuitive because if you’ve only got one Improvement resource, you want it to be the best resource possible, right?  Well, not necessarily.  One of the big returns on investment (ROI) you’ll get for a Black Belt is your ability to support the lower ranks, the Green Belts and Yellow Belts.  If you look around and don’t see people with those Certifications, then there could be no-one for you to support and apply the coaching and mentoring skills you have developed.


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7. You don’t have the time or resources to complete a project.

If you don’t have the backing of the organisation, you could also find that getting permission to use the necessary resources, people, budget, and time for even yourself to work on a Black Belt project is virtually impossible.  A Black Belt project is likely to take significantly wider, and more technical skills than the ones you’ve been using as a Green Belt, so you shouldn’t do a Black Belt if you’re not going to be able to use those new skills.



8. Your data systems haven’t moved on since the 80s.

Ensure that the organisation has data systems or measurement systems in place for you to use the advanced tools you will learn.  If you don’t have access to the right kind of data without too much effort, you won’t have the quantity of data you need when it comes to successfully certifying your Black Belt project.



9. It’s not part of your career plan.

Are you planning on pursuing the Black Belt Accreditation for your future career, promotion opportunities, or perhaps the chance to work in a new field?  It’s a big commitment from a personal learning perspective, and it will take time to research where or whom you are targeting to ensure that the certification is in demand in those areas.  If you’ve not got the energy to perform this activity, or if it’s not part of your career plan, you shouldn’t do a Lean Six Sigma Black Belt.  Take some time to reflect.  It’s important to understand your goal, to find a reputable training program that fits those needs, and a provider respected by the business improvement industry or community you’re building towards.

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Is a Lean Six Sigma Black Belt certification right for you?

So, you now have a clearer idea of why you shouldn’t do a Lean Six Sigma Black Belt certification.  It’s evident that a Black Belt is a rigorous training programme that equips you with the skills and knowledge to lead complex projects, analyse data, and solve cross-functional problems.  But, if you’re not in the right environment or able to put in the time, it could just be an excellent certification that collects dust.

In conclusion, we know the principles you will learn can be applied to any sector, industry, or business function, making this certification versatile and valuable.  In the right organisation, with the right leaders, hard work, and the right mindset, you can become a certified Lean Six Sigma Black Belt, enjoy huge satisfaction from the results you achieve, and make a meaningful, positive impact on people’s work lives.

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