The Lean Methods Group often receives questions asking for a comparison of its Green Belt and Black Belt courses to that administered by ASQ. The main question: “Does the Lean Methods Group’s training prepare me to pass the ASQ exams?” First, it’s important to understand the differences in the content addressed and the differing organizational purposes for the instructional courses and certification processes.
The Lean Methods Group’s objective is to provide comprehensive training related to Lean, Six Sigma and innovation approaches for solving problems. As a learning organization, the Lean Methods Group regularly reviews its curricula to ensure content aligns with what is needed in the industry and focuses on those tools and skills best suited to solve today’s business problems. So its certification process covers all of these recognized areas of expertise that are associated with the Lean Methods Group portfolio of instructional materials. Both the Green Belt and Black Belt curricula and exams include all these areas, and additionally the Black Belt certification covers more advanced topics—particularly for statistical methods.
The content aligns with what is needed in the industry and focuses on those tools and skills best suited to solve today’s business problems.
ASQ has a much different approach. It separates Lean and Six Sigma content, offering distinct certification exams for these two areas. ASQ does not include innovation approaches in either of those exam processes. The differentiation between Green and Black Belt certifications is similar to that used by the Lean Methods Group, with the Black Belt exam addressing more advanced topics.
At this point, it becomes clear that the Lean Methods Group courses provides a reasonable foundation for the ASQ certification exam. In fact, it covers more areas in its exams. As might be expected, however, the specific topics included in the two organizations’ exams are not identical. Neither is the depth of the questions that are included in the exams for some of those topics. The lists below points out a few topics that are handled differently by the two organizations.
|Comparison of Topics for Black Belt Exams|
|Lean Methods Group Content||ASQ Black Belt Body of Knowledge|
|Theory of Constraints (TOC)||Addressed in conjunction with Lean||Handled as an independent topic|
|Quality Function Deployment (QFD)||Not included but is available in other courses associated with Design for Six Sigma (DFSS)||Addressed at the conceptual level, but the detailed process is not included in the exam|
|Randomized Block Design||Not included but is available in other courses||Included|
|Multivariate Tools (MANOVA, Principle Components, Factor Analysis)||Not included||Included|
|Total Productive Maintenance (TPM)||Not included but is available in other courses associated with Lean||Included|
|Techniques for Preventing Human Error||Covered in detail in the curricula and included in the exams||Not discussed separately from general mistake-proofing concepts|
|Innovation Techniques||Techniques related to increasing creativity, identifying breakthrough solutions, and applying provocation and movement, and TRIZ are covered in the curricula||Not included in the exams|
The other differences between the Lean Methods Group (classroom students only) and ASQ’s certification processes involve the way they are administered and maintained. Here are a few quick comparisons.
|Comparison of Administration for Green Belt and Black Belt Certification Processes|
|Lean Methods Group||ASQ|
|Prerequisite Requirements||No prerequisite requirements when registering for the course and exams||Prerequisite requirements must be submitted when registering for the exam|
|Preparation Materials||Course materials and exams sold as a coordinated package||Courses available to prepare, but not connected directly and are priced independently|
|Exam Availability||Flexible, available online 24/7||Available on a periodic, prescheduled basis|
|Upgrade Options||Previously certified classroom Green Belts can take an upgrade course and then the Black Belt exam||Upgrades not available|
|Certification Exams||Separate exams are connected with DMAIC phases so students take exams while the information is fresh in their minds||All DMAIC phases included in one exam|
|Certification Expiration||None, but continuing learning and advancement is encouraged||Every 3 years; requires proof of continuing learning and participation in the field to be renewed|
|Statistical Software/Calculators||Exam questions are designed to be used with statistical packages (SigmaXL or Minitab) to aid the analytical process||Strict rules related to the type of calculator that can be used during the exams are enforced by the on-site proctors|
|Scoring||Passing score is 70%; scores are provided upon completion||Passing score varies for each exam cycle based on a statistical analysis; scores provided after all exams have been compiled|
|Review of Questions/Responses||Can be reviewed. Quizzes are available online and are required to ensure student preparation||Responses are not available for review. Sample exams are available online for practice|
|Retake Options||No additional cost as long as the registration period is active||New registration and retake fee required|
In summary, a comparison of the Lean Methods Group and ASQ Green Belt and Black Belt certification exams indicates that the content is fairly similar and that the most notable differences are related to the administration processes.
Clearly, obtaining a Lean Methods Group certification provides an excellent foundation for taking the ASQ certification exam, but as would be expected, specific effort would need to be invested to prepare—particularly to ensure that the ASQ Body of Knowledge has been reviewed thoroughly and that certification candidates are ready to answer questions associated with its specific content.
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