• Bill Greider

To Green Belt or Not to Green Belt?....that is the question

So I've been living in a continuous improvement world for 20 years or so. It all started because the old way of running a business just wasn't working for me. You may have heard the old saying, "if you want results others don't get, you need to be willing to do things others won't to do." Well, you can definitely throw lean into that little nugget of wisdom. Lots of people start a lean business strategy, then stop. It is too disruptive to the status quo when done right, But the results are worth it. Nearly doubling sales with same number of people (so we could double their pay) was all the convincing I needed that the agita was worth it.

Little known fact (and nobody really cares) is that before we built a lean strategy, I thought our 70 person manufacturing plant was GE and I was going to improve via karate (black belts, green belts, etc.). So I got certified as a Black Belt and soon realized if the only tool you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail. I also realized that Six Sigma methodology is yet another tool for our lean/TPS toolbox. Notice I said toolbox. People is the strategy, the tools are the tools.

Getting a Black Belt was akin to having your toenails removed with pliers. I was more worried about the exam and the 50 ways to do hypothesis testing than understanding how this could help. I wasn't trying to be an actuary, I needed to figure out how to make floor coatings faster and with less variation. Let's say the entire black belt certification includes 2000 concepts. I can honestly say there are 20 I use or teach often, 50 that I use occasionally, and gulp 1030 that I haven't thought about since my SSBB exam.

So back in June, I launched a pilot of P4s very own Green Belt training. I met with 3 people from 3 different companies every Wednesday morning for 60-75 minutes. The first class was June 24th, and the last session is September 23rd. We applied heijunka and 5S to the toenail removal. These lucky 3 people (Rose Bajhor from Ulbrich, Esteban Ortiz and Justin Fieler from O,R & L Construction) got everything I got without the cramming. The goal is to make 6 sigma FUN and simple enough so even I can understand it? The 75 minutes was just enough to keep us all awake and excited about the content (fun with residuals analysis for example). We applied 5S because I was able to weed out (de-emphasize) the things they will probably never use.

As much as I hated by own certification, I had a blast with this one and I want to do it again! I have 6 people so far, and I'm hoping you would consider joining. To sign up, here is the event page:

We'll start the non-toenail pulling in mid-November!