Rountable 1 – Are lean certifications good?

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[tweetmeme source=”leanisgood” service=””]The ‘posters’ of the Lean Is Good blog have grown to four in number.  Each of us brings a different background and set of experiences around Deming, lean, and learning.  How could we leverage this diversity of thought and voice for the benefit of our readers?  We ‘planned’ and came up with an idea that we could each briefly answer a question once a week.  Today we ‘do’ it, and we will ‘check’ it after a couple weeks looking for a high rate of comments.  The answers are independent (nobody could see anybody else’s answer before they gave their own answer.)  We will post a poll so that readers can interact when it is reasonable for the question asked.  The order that the answers appear in will be randomized each time.  Please join us by adding your comments.  We would like to hear from you.

The question:

Are lean certifications good?

The answers:

Bruce (posts)

No.  Lean should be far more egalitarian and democratic than some other things like six sigma which is designed to be ‘lead’ by a priestly classes of ‘belts’ who stand separated from the ‘unwashed.’  It should be accessible to a lot of people to learn by doing with help of other people.  That’s my philosophical take.  Here’s my pragmatic answer, I wasn’t generally impressed with externally certified ‘belts’ when I did a lot of six sigma and our internal certifications didn’t mean much either.

Scott (posts)

Certification is individual

Lean is team

Certification is the well defined path

Lean is the struggle with the unknown

Certification is establishment

Lean is creative

Certification is textbooks and lexicons

Lean is hard and unwritten

Certification is external

Lean is internal

Certification is tests

Lean is real

Certification is on the shelf

Lean is reflection

Certification is yesterday

Lean is today

Bryan (posts)

I don’t place much value in a lean certification. I think you can get the same experiences (probably better) from many other ways than a certification program. There is still a person associated with the certification, and each of us is different and has certain strengths and weaknesses. You still need to associate the right person with the particular problem you are trying to solve. A lean certification doesn’t really tell you anything about the people. Does your situation require a tireless, dynamic, and challenging leader or does it require more of a pensive, constant, but less pressure individual? You still need to do your homework and put the right pieces in the right places to be successful, regardless of some paper certification!

Kim (posts)

I am sure they are at least as good as the paper they are printed on. I would say they indicate an individual has met the criteria of the certification. For me it is more about how you think, act, and your ability to influence change than a piece of paper.

Those are our opinions.  Please join our roundtable by adding your comments below.


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11 Responses

  1. The question is – good for who? A lean certification could be a great way for someone that is trying to learn about and use lean principles to push themselves to learn more. So I think certifications can be great for the person that is using them as a way to push themselves to learn more and become better.

    However, I don’t think that certifications are a good indicator of proficiency in the subject. I work with too many “certified” individuals to think that the certification itself means anything. The same thing goes for formal education, books read, seminars attended……

    • Brandon, great point! I didn’t even consider that side of it when I compiled my answer. A certification program could be a great way for a leader to learn more about Lean.

    • Brandon,
      If the attainment of a lean certification provides a motivational milestone for someone in their journey of lean enlightenment then that is a ‘good’ thing for sure.

  2. Great topic! I’ve described it before like the belt system in martial arts.

    You get some level of credibility but in a street fight are you going to take the 105 lb 14 year old black belt or the 28 year old 210 lb linebacker who is a green belt? I’m taking the green belt because they are better prepared.

    I would say it’s good to a point but for real work to be done certifications for lean seem silly.


    • Ankit,
      Right on!
      I would take someone who has demonstrated that they are better prepared as well. I would look for curiosity, creativity, objectivity, and an internal locus of control. People who are strong in those dimension will solve problems because they like to and because they can.

  3. Who certifies the certifiers?

    • Simon – great point. Those who would argue for certifications would probably say some outside consultant, but that still does not logically satisfy your point. Who certified the consultant and so on.

  4. The training, content, confidence and knowledge gained are the important things from the certification process.
    I would like to hope that noone is in it only for the resume thing, naïve I know.

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