White Belt Bullshit

Six Sigma training works on a silly colored belt system like a martial art. It’s statistical analysis Karate. Take a bow facing your opponent, a software generated scatter chart and do the parts per million factoring. Roundhouse flying foot Karate kick to the head! Allegedly, basic Six Sigma training when completed results in an employee having a White Belt status. Wow. Can you tell how interested in Six Sigma I am? White Belt training will comprise of self-paced web modules that must be finished by a deadline set by corporate. The few people who have been assigned to act as internal trainers overseeing the project will be referred to as Black Belts. These folks are supposedly going to be the Six Sigma experts throughout the division. I’ve heard their Black Belt training with outside consultants is going to cost Bill and Dave’s $20,000 per person. Ouch. That seems really steep to me. Between the White and Black Belts there are a bunch of specialized training modules that would result in a different color of belt. It remains to be decided if we will be messing around with any of that junk.

With self-paced web module training employees here generally cut corners to get it over with as quickly as possible. Cheat sheets containing all the correct answers for each module usually surface, and then are circulated rapidly from department to department. Part of the issue is there are so few of us left working here that we are sinking. We are drowning fast with the workload. The water level is about ten feet above our heads and rarely can we swim up to the surface for a breath of air. I have mentioned it before, for those of us who have survived a dozen rounds of layoffs we are doing the work of multiple people. Not just our own forty hour a week assignments anymore. That’s why so many of us are burned out and uninterested in this place. Six Sigma is just going to have to take a back seat to all our other daily priorities. We gotta make those month-end shipments or Super Geek doesn’t get his glorious Shareholder Value.

The Beard sent everyone an email detailing how this Six Sigma thing is going to go down. Here’s what he provided:

To all WBU Manufacturing employees,

In WBU Manufacturing the Six Sigma White Belt team members must complete Basic Curriculum Quality Training and White Belt Training so they can provide project specific process and cross-functional support. Under the guidance of Black Belts, they will gather and analyze data as well as help sustain the gains created by the Six Sigma project. White Belts will work on projects as needed, by providing expertise on areas where they are directly or indirectly involved in the processes. On larger projects, White Belts may be asked to dedicate themselves full time to the project.

Within the company interweb you will find the Basic Curriculum Quality Training Course. The goal is to have 100% of WBU Manufacturing employees take these classes. Instructions on how to launch these classes will be available during the week of February 12th, the Kick Off week for Six Sigma’s White Belt Training.

The White Belt Curriculum will be made available as soon as the Six Sigma White Belt classes are complete. The goal is to have 40% of WBU Manufacturing employees take these classes. The following is a complete list of all the required classes for White Belt.

Required courses for a White Belt are: (classes with a Blue * are the Basic Curriculum Quality Training classes you will find on the web)

Introduction to Quality Series:
· Quality@Bill and Dave’s – Know Your Role*
· Introduction to Quality Tools*
· Introduction to Process Improvement*
Quality Tool Series:
· Pareto Chart *
· Cause-and-Effect Diagram*
· Process Flow Diagram*
· Time Series Chart*
· Histogram *
· Scattergram*
· Control Chart*
Root Cause Analysis Series
· Introduction to Root Cause Analysis*

In addition to the Basic Curriculum Quality Training you will need to take the following classes to meet the White Belt requirements:

· Basic Root Cause Analysis
· Corrective Action
Six Sigma Courses
· Overview of Six Sigma (yet to be released)
· Six Sigma Methodologies and Tools (yet to be released)

Thank you,
The Beard
Basic Skills and Quality Training Coordinator
WBU Manufacturing Center

Scanning over The Beard’s training matrix I realized there is very little new to us with Six Sigma besides the Six Sigma overview sections. Everything else appears to cover what we already have in our Business Metrics program. We currently perform in-depth root cause analysis when we discover serious problems with product platforms and we always have a Continuous Process Improvement policy. None of this is new, as I mentioned we’ve had all of this in effect at the company for decades. The only notable change in the past five years or so is nobody is paying attention to that data collection anymore. That’s why we are in so much trouble. With Six Sigma I think someone is trying to reinvent the wheel. Maybe at another company where they don’t already have some sort of statistical analysis program or a form of quality data collection Six Sigma would be a better match. Here, it will be entirely redundant to what we already have in place. I really don’t understand the point in bringing Six Sigma to life here at Bill and Dave’s.

Weeehooo. I’m gonna get me a White Belt.

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~ by factorypeasant on April 19, 2009.

4 Responses to “White Belt Bullshit”

  1. man can i borrow $20,000…i need to update my 6igma blackbelt…for the year 2000!!! i am a cyber man!!! If only you had the black belt dude…white belts are punks.

  2. good timez

  3. I used to work for a semiconductor manufacturer. We ran production 24/7 with four shifts working a 12 hour, 3 day/4 day work week. We held a daily “production” meeting each morning to discuss the “issues” that occurred overnight when management and engineering weren’t there. Sounds good enough, right? Except, the REAL purpose of the meeting wasn’t to find the problems and suggest corrections. Not at all! The REAL reason was to determine who was at fault. It was nothing more than a finger-pointing exercise in mental masturbation.

    I had a friend who worked for a company with a Six Sigma “system.” They called it “sick smegma.” I think that fits better, no?

  4. Robert,

    Yeah I can see how Six Sigma can be used to play the blame game. In my current job the company culture is all about pointing the finger of doom at other departments or individuals as much as possible to deflect criticism and divert the problem. Right now we’re being hammered into the ground with the latest industry trend canned training programs- Lean Manufacturing, Kaizens, and 5S. The amusing thing is none of the managers peddling this stuff can keep them separated let alone understand what they’re for. So they just lump ’em all together into one big jumbled up mess and hire a full time resource to roll out the training classes. Six Sigma is in there too…

    Ironically we had to shut down an entire production line last year because it was not profitable. It was the first area in the company we introduced the 5S/Lean Manufacturing propaganda. It resulted in a product line that looked great- especially for customers who toured the facility. But it failed to identify the real root cause issues plaguing that group and ultimately it was killed off as a result.

    I would prefer mid-level management actually get out from behind their desks and spend some time peeking under the hood of daily operations to really gain an understanding of what we do. Most of the time the people working in the trenches already know where the problems are, they just need support to fix them. That’s too much work for managers though and it’s also kinda scary for them.

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