Chicken and the egg; you need experience on Six Sigma projects before you can get a role as a Six Sigma practitioner – or even to get certified. So the question becomes How to Find Qualified Six Sigma Projects?

Recently many people have contacted me about finding Six Sigma projects to do. It’s easy for candidates in large companies with leaders that have already been introduced to Six Sigma to find sponsors and worthwhile projects. And it seems difficult for those who are not in that position. So what can you do?

Why You Should Look for a Six Sigma Project

Certification

Some candidates need to have projects to be considered for Six Sigma Black Belt certification. Certain Six Sigma organizations require candidates put into practice what they’ve learned before they are able to be certified. But how do you find a project? For example, the ASQ Black Belt certification requires a signed affidavit stating that you’ve completed one or two Six Sigma projects depending on your amount of industry experience.

To Learn

Even if you do not need work experience for your particular certification (IASSC and Villanova exams do not require projects), applying what you have learned will tell you how well you know the material.

Career Building

By default a six sigma project attacks an area of great need. The methodology ensures that you are meeting critical client needs and deploying your resources to meet that need in a responsible manner. What better way to stand out to your current or future employer? Running a successful project is a great resume builder.

Maintaining Skills

Even if you were certified a long time ago, you should still look for projects to run. Six Sigma skills are perishable and we should all be looking for ways to participate in continuous improvement opportunities.

How to Find Qualified Six Sigma Projects

Fortunately, there is no end to the appetite for people to do good, significant work in this world. Ans Six sigma projects certainly qualify. A lack of projects to work is really a lack of networking. And, no, networking is not a dirty word.

The more people that know you, your abilities, your talents, and your interests, the more opportunities you will have. Every business is constrained by human capital. If you offer yours for free, especially with the rare and valuable Six Sigma skill set, you’ll never run out of work to do.

Where to Look for Six Sigma Projects

The funny thing is, once you do a few projects you will never lack for other new projects. Focus on getting one done and then another and I promise good things will come your way.

Your Current Organization

Your best bet to find an area in need of improvement is your current job. Take a look at the things that drive you crazy – how could you study and fix the problem? What about your colleagues? Are they experiencing any issues you could help with?

What about your immediate supervisors or local executives? Sure, you’re judged on expectations. But so is your direct supervisor. Ask her what is on her radar and go solve it! Perhaps she is a process owner. Take a look at this road map to using Six Sigma to improve things as a process manager for ideas.

Green belt candidates should be mentored by black belts. Black belts should be mentored by master black belts. Organizationally, the entire effort should be mentored by a champion. Now, we all know that reality is sometimes different than how they draw it up in the books. But if you have a mentoring relationship, regular 1:1 or skip-level meetings scheduled, or are on various committees with senior leaders, ask if they have a need for help and would be willing to sponsor.

If you do not have such relationships, there is no time like the present to forge them.

Organizations and Academia

By the time you start taking Six Sigma classes you have been through years of education. This is a great opportunity to reach out to previous instructors, professors, and academic institutions.

As a professional you should be a member of various trade organizations. Try contacting them. For instance, I’d bet your local ASQ branch would be a great resource for finding Six Sigma projects.

For Profit

Sometimes people are simply not in a position to try the previous examples. That leaves freelancing. There are lots of websites out there with people looking for help. You won’t make top-dollar at first, but you’ll make something and help your resume in the process.

You could try posting your services on Fiverr, Elance, or Upwork.

Volunteer

Volunteering with causes you are passionate about are a great way to sharpen your skills while doing good for the community. Catch a Fire, Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts,  and other local volunteer shops are all places of potential need.

Ask Your Network

Social media has made it very easy to keep track of who is doing what in your network  – and especially who is having trouble. That’s where you come in. For example, look at your network’s LinkedIn posts. If you see someone you know having trouble with cycle time, or something similar that a Lean engagement or a DMAIC could help, there’s your project!

Old employers, past colleagues, former professors are all great resources to reach out to.

Seek Outside Business Advisors

Small businesses are always short-staffed. And, yes, Six Sigma is especially useful to small businesses! Try contacting your local chamber of commerce and seeing if they need help – or know of a business that does.

SCORE is a great organization of retired business leaders that mentors to those new to the community. Try there!

Roll Your Own Company

I did this when I pursued my Six Sigma Green Belt Certification from a local college. I had a website that sold nutrition supplies. AdSense was just coming on to the scene and I wanted to learn how to optimize my process for generating leads. DMAIC was the perfect framework.

My Top Networking Resources

Finding projects boils down to finding people who have a need and helping them. Networking is the best way to do this. This was an important evolution in my journey as a professional. I had many different negative connotations about the term and its purpose. If you’re like me, and networking does not comes naturally – or if it brigs up imagery of slimy ’empty suits’, I’d encourage you to examine the following resources. You’ll be glad you did.

How did you find your last Six Sigma project? What are your tips for networking? Let us know in the comments.

Comments (23)

Sir

My previous organisation had only three employees including me as Senior Sales Manager.
I waorked there for 7 years and had successfully carried out many things with enthusiam and changed many behaviour there upon.

SO, Please guide me how to make these as my project to qualify BB certification.

I’m a certified in black belt, want to start my own business and wonder how I go about finding companies that I can do my lean manufacturing.
Six sigma.

Hi Fred,

I think this comes down to a networking function. Some people like to say “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.”

I like to say “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know that knows you can produce.”

If you’re starting a business I assume you have a strong track record of proven results displayed over several years. Reach out to those people that can verify that you were instrumental in driving change, tell them about your new venture, and ask them if they know of any opportunities or simply to keep an eye out for opportunities.

While you’re waiting for that to bear fruit compile a portfolio of your completed works. Perhaps create a case study summarizing in STAR format what the problem was and how you demonstrated real results. Then find ways to share that content widely. (Hint – I love sharing case studies to millions of people on this website!) Your own website, YouTube, and LinkedIn are all good passive venues. Sharing at professional meetings like ASQ and conferences are also good ways to gain exposure.

In the end, people are attracted to success. Share your successes and people will seek you out.

Hi

I am planning for taking six sigma green belt certification. The institute i am planning to have this course is SSC ( six sigma council ) accredited. please guide me on this. Will this help me?

Hi Smita, I am not familiar with that organization. The two most prominent organizations are ASQ and IASSC. I would strongly suggest those organizations, if possible. However, every case is different. And any kind of Six Sigma training is better than none, in most cases.

Look at your career goals and try to identify a few people who have accomplished them. If the institute you are using was valuable to them, it will likely be valuable to you. Reach out to your network and verify that that certification was helpful. If you don’t know anyone with that certification, create a profile on LinkedIn and search for contacts that have the certifications. This is an easy way to build your network. And who knows? Perhaps the people you reach out to will end up being key partners in your career growth!

Hi

I am planning to take up 4 days Six Sigma Green Belt Training & Certification program from QAI. Will that be a good choice?? I am little afraid to see that QAI despite being one of the prominent Training & Certification Institution is not being recommended by you anywhere.

They may be good, I do not know. It doesn’t sound good; training and certification should be separate. In my experience, it is really ASQ then everyone else. IASSC is a popular choice because they do not require you to have actually applied the material in the real world and their exams are much easier.

Hello sir

I am an Metallurgical Engineer and have relocated to UK because of family reasons. I have been working in the mining industry before. Getting a job as a extractive metallurgist has proved to be difficult. I am thinking of doing a six sigma course with the hope of moving to be a process engineer. Do you think this will be achievable?

Hi Edwin, I think any professional can take a six sigma course and find ways to apply the concepts there immediately. Your engineering background will help as will your past experiences. As with any job, it’s always easiest to get one with experience. In order to get the first position as a process engineer you’ll be best served by find ways to apply your learnings and being able to speak to the results you’ve delivered because of them. It will be more difficult than if you were handed such a role, but certainly achievable.

Hi Tedd,

Your insights are very well articulated and I think you may be of help.

I am in agreement with your recommendation of ASQ, one of my goals is to become a member.

I am a Quality Professional working in the manufacturing industry, I am looking to widen my knowledge in the area of quality management from a factory set-up to project set-up.

I am looking at six sigma but I am wondering if I have to do the green belt then later look into the black belt, or should I just dive into the black belt?

Then I would like to understand the difference between six sigma projects and just normal projects? Does it mean that projects that are not labelled as six sigma can’t be considered when it comes to certification, even if they employed six sigma principles?

Hi Dominic,

Thank you for the compliments! Let’s dive into your questions:

You do not have to complete a green belt to achieve a black belt.

I personally like having stepping stones and “mini-wins”, so I would recommend pursuing a green belt first as the material is a subset of the black belt guide, and that will help people new to the material break up the long journey. If you are an experienced practitioner, you’ll have better success going straight for the black belt.

One consideration is that many black belts are asked to mentor and help certify green belts as part of their work responsibilities. In that sense it’s helpful to have pursued green belt certification yourself so you’re familiar with that journey. But again, not required.

In terms of ASQ-certified projects I have to refer you to their website as they are the final arbiters:

Note: Six Sigma Black Belt certification requires that you complete at least one Six Sigma project and submit a project affidavit. Review frequently asked questions regarding projects and the affidavit/verification.

Hi,
I led 2 DMAIC projects in my previous organization and used Six Sigma tools to achieve benefits. However, the project i did were 5 years ago. I need to know if this can be mentioned in the affidavit. In other words, is there any time limit/age for the projects mentioned in the affidavit (For ex: Projects less than x year old must be mentioned?)

Hi Vidhya,

I’m sorry, I really don’t know. I’m assuming you’re referring to the ASQ Black Belt affidavit. I think the best bet is to reach out to ASQ.

Best, Ted.

You would need to have ALL the documentation Charter, team, timeline of each phase of D M A I C, data analysis, charts, graphs, decision on solutions and why chosen, control plan to sustain, etc) like in a final project presentation (powerpoint) with backup data to support for each project in order to submit that to ASQ for approval. you cant just say you did it you have to PROVE IT and have an upper manager you reported to directly or indirectly who was part of the management team sign it off

Good day, Sir!

I find your articles very informative and of great use to me. I am convinced that indeed these certifications are all essential in building my career. However, after reading so much about SSC, I seem to be confused all of the sudden as to where I could start off. I am very much willing to learn and be certified in SSGB in the future, which is why I am very careful in the steps I’m about to take. I hope you could enlighten me about the following questions I have in mind:
1. Are you automatically certified after completing the training and taking the exam? My main concern about being certified upon completion of training and examination is not being sure if I am qualified for the certification. Knowing the conceptual aspect might be a big part, however what I worry most is the application of what I have learned. I do not know if there’s any way for it to be checked before having me certified. Should I start at Yellow Belt?

2. Do you have to have work experience before undergoing the training? What if you just graduated from college?

Thank you for your time!

Hi and thank you for your questions.

1) It depends on the organization you are certifying with and what belt. For example, the ASQ Black Belt has additional requirements beyond just passing the certification exam while many others (like the IASSC) only require passing the exam to be certified.

I certainly agree that as a hiring manager a certification is only one part of what I am looking for in a candidate. Understanding of multiple concepts is another as is documented, proven ability to deliver results.

2) Work experience differs between various organizations and belts. I recommend that people do not limit themselves to being certified with only one organization and instead see the different offerings / qualifications as a ladder that you can climb as your proficiency and ability grows.

2)

Hello Ted,

Thank you for this awesome article and for helping the six sigma aspirants like me.
Is there a way for me to reach you by email to ask few questions that i have with my experience related to my previous project.

Thank you!

Hi Sunny,

I don’t provide consulting and my time is currently reserved for the study guide participants. The best way to ask questions would be to leave comments and thoughts on any of the hundreds of articles out here. That way I and millions of other industry professionals can provide feedback.

Best, Ted.

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