Book Review: Six Sigma Green Belt Certification Project ISBN-13: 978-3-030-31914-4

Today the Management and Strategy Institute team reviews the book Six Sigma Green Belt Certification Project by Reiner Hutwelker, published under Springer (ISBN: 978-3-030-31914-4).  The books primary focus is listed right on the front page: Identification, Implementation, and Evaluation.  The author is a credible expert in the field of Six Sigma and publishes helpful Six Sigma content on his Youtube channel.

In the first chapter of the book Mr. Hutwelker immediately indicates the Body of Knowledge that his book is built around, the ASQ BoK.  He is also very clear in stating that “Criteria for Green Belt and Black Belt certification vary.  There is no standard certification body.”  This is an important fact, and one that many authors leave out of their books.  This leads to misinformation and confusion within the process improvement community, so we were glad to see they author help clear up misconceptions.  ASQ’s BoK is extensive and is often considered the go-to reference for Six Sigma.  MSI’s Six Sigma Body of Knowledge is built off of the ASQ standard, as well as industry experts.

The primary learning material in this book starts with Chapter 2 (Six Sigma Introduction).  Here the author covers all of your basic-level six sigma knowledge, breaking down the DMAIC method and summarizing each stage.  For example, the author states: “The DMAIC is a methodical approach for the implementation of improvement projects. At its core, the DMAIC cycle is a generic, hypothesis-based, scientific approach to problem-solving. It is based on an open box of chronologically linked rational-logical and statistical tools to uncover problem–cause relationships. Overall, the chain of tools is designed to define problems, analyze causes, develop solutions, and control their success. Additional tools help to formulate the business case, to organize the project environment, and to manage the project.”  This is a very good summary and gives readers new to Six Sigma a simple understanding.

The statistical bases for Six Sigma is also covered in this section.  The term Six Sigma indicates a specific level of process capability: Sigma level 6. At this level only 3.4 errors are expected in 1 million outputs (99.99966% yield).  Throughout this section Mr. Hutwelker uses an example of a bakery making cookies.  While the example is simplistic, it’s also designed for someone new to process improvement.  The author successfully simplifies a complicated subject.

This book differs from other Six Sigma books because it’s highly focused on the stages of Six Sigma (DMAIC).  All books cover this subject of course, but Six Sigma Green Belt Certification Project by Reiner Hutwelker digs deeper into the stages than most.  For example, Chapters 4 & 6 focus just on the Define stage and the tools used in that stage.  That’s over 35 pages just to discuss defining a project!  Obviously with that much content, a lot of tools are discussed.  The author covers important topics like:

  • Project-Definition
  • Process and Output
  • Problems
  • Effects
  • Solution Ideas
  • SIPOC – suppliers (S), their inputs (I), the related process steps (P), the resulting (intermediate) outputs (O), and their customer (C)
  • Voice-to-Critical (includes Voice of Customer)
  • Kano-Model
  • Project-Charter
  • Stakeholder Communication

Chapter 7 covers the Measure stage and chapter 8 covers the Analyze stage.  Both chapters look at the tools and knowledge required to be successful in those defined project areas.  Chapter 9 is where we looked deep into the content.  Many books we review seem to glaze over the Improve stage of DMAIC, assuming that a company can self-identify areas that need improvement.  Here at MSI, we find this logic questionable.  We were glad to see the author spends just as much time on the Improve stage as he did other stages of the book.  For example, the author writes “First, the selected causes of the Root-Cause-Analysis are focused, and solution ideas are developed to eliminate, adjust, or to circumvent them. Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of the solution ideas and, as far as possible, combine the ideas into beneficial, practicable solutions and evaluate them according to their effort/benefit ratio. Then it becomes concrete and sometimes tough: Specify concrete measures for the selected solutions and define: Who? Does what? Until when? Now identify the risks that may arise from the measures and look for suitable countermeasures. Finally, the Sponsor and the process owners decide which measures should be implemented. The Sponsor and the process owners should also make a clear statement that they want to actively support and monitor their implementation.”

The next chapters include:

Chapter 10, Control

Chapter 11, Project Completion

Chapter 12, Six Sigma Project Guideline

Chapter 13 is where the author starts to introduce Lean methods.  Lean is briefly mentioned in conjunction with some of the tools, but this chapter is where it’s formally introduced.  In today’s improvement methodology, you really can’t discuss Six Sigma without Lean.  It has become to important to industries like Manufacturing, Healthcare, Logistics, and even within the federal government.  The author breaks it down by stating the following: “Although both Lean-Thinking and Six Sigma focus on customer satisfaction and cost reduction, there are differences in their properties. The following comparison of Six Sigma with Lean-Thinking is based on their properties: Assumption, Objective & Potentials, Focus, Approach, Principles, Methods & Tools, Character and Advantages/Disadvantages. I will try to contrast both approaches, although their boundaries are blurred. The approaches of Six Sigma and Lean-Thinking show differences in the roles and tasks. In Six Sigma, the employees, the management, and customer continuously identify problems in the products and services. Task of the management is to periodically prioritize and select appropriate problems for Six Sigma projects. Temporary project-teams, led by Green/Black Belts, solve the selected problems. In Lean-Thinking, the management is responsible to identify appropriate methods for the company. Experts then implement and adapt these methods. Employees in CIP-Teams continuously eliminate waste and standardize their process.

The remaining chapters cover the following subjects:

Chapter 14, Six Sigma for Sponsors and Basic Recommendations

Chapter 15, Notes for Six Sigma Experts on the Concept of this Course

This book can help you prepare for the following certifications: