Six Sigma Green Belt Certification
Learning Circle Planning
This document describes ICFI’s
Learning Circle approach to prepare nine ICFI staff to take and pass the American Society for
Quality’s (ASQ) Six Sigma Green Belt certification exam in December 2009.
Needs, goals, capability/capacity, evaluation, and sustainability, along with a
detailed plan, are included.
Interest and Business Needs
people throughout ICF, including Z Tech and recently acquired ICF Macro, have
expressed interest in learning more about Six Sigma and/or earning their Six
Sigma Green Belt certifications, which if achieved, will increase ICF corporate
process improvement capability and capacity.
Note: Business value of Six Sigma will be an open and on-going
discussion topic. While the need is obvious where an RFP requests Six Sigma
services, there are other situations where Six Sigma-related skills are of
benefit. For example, anything involving performance measurement, some aspects
of QA/QC and IV&V, process improvement, efficiency, effectiveness,
organizational and process evaluation, streamlining, strategic planning,
presentation of results, business process re-engineering, new
product/service/process design, to name a few.
The goals and desired
outcomes documented by this plan are at two levels, organizational and
Increase ICF’s corporate process improvement capability
Identify and respond to a wider
variety of requests for proposals, particularly those requesting demonstrated
expertise in quality improvement practices.
Incorporate Six Sigma practices
into current work to improve quality, rigor, and successful outcomes.
Lead and/or contribute to in-house
Six Sigma educational opportunities for future staff.
Master the Six Sigma Green Belt body of knowledge (see
Achieve Six Sigma Green Belt
Participate in a follow-on Black
Belt Cohort Group.
Practice and Fit to ICFI
Six Sigma is an improvement
strategy used in multiple business sectors that improves process quality by
identifying and removing process errors and variation via a set of quality
management and statistical methods to meet goals of cost reduction or profit
increase. ASQ, the preferred certifying body, does not require a completion of
a project as part of the Green Belt application and the knowledge required to
pass the exam is less than for a Black Belt, but at least three years of work
experience is required. Once a Green Belt has been attained, and a follow-on
project has been completed that demonstrates application of Six Sigma methods,
the Black Belt certification can be pursued (having completed a project is an
ASQ prerequisite for Black Belt).
include: 1) Increasing ICF process and quality improvement capability; 2)
enabling response to customer needs (JFCOM, a recent DOD customer expressed
interest in Six Sigma training, and ICF has competed twice for Six Sigma work
with the FAA); 3) developing ICF talent at low cost and help achieve one of
ICF’s five strategic objectives – “world class people;” and 4) build new
contacts across ICF practices and locations. Expanding ICF’s process
improvement capability and capacity will help not only at the practice level,
but also at the corporate level as need for outside resources will be
ICF staff members have expressed interest in learning more about Six Sigma, and
seven would like to earn Six Sigma Green Belt certifications. ASQ estimates
approximately 100 hours of self
and/or group study to pass the certification exam. Members will also need to
make themselves available for regular conference calls in Fall 2009.
ICF has developed a Quality
Net Share Point site, which was key in leading to several inquiries about Six
Sigma training opportunities. The group will continue to use the site, located
to post contact information, a calendar, ASQ and ICFI materials, and
ICF’s Oklahoma office has
a number of Six Sigma Belts and they conduct in-house Six Sigma training and training
to their government customers.
This Circle will achieve
their personal professional development goal of Six Sigma Green Belt
certification through a combination of group and self study.
will organize and hold a series of conference calls beginning in late August
through early December. The first call’s purpose will be to introduce the
group, discuss goals and objectives, and agree upon the group and self-study
process. As part of group introductions, each member will complete a brief Personal
Information Sheet (see Appendix B) and post a photo to the Quality Net site
within one week of the call.
the group agrees to the group and self-study process, subsequent calls will
feature one to two members presenting what they have learned, what they
personally seek clarification on, and questions for group discussion based on
the Six Sigma Green Belt body of knowledge. The body of knowledge is divided
into five major categories. The number of group members preparing a category
for the group will be based on the length of the category; one member for
shorter categories, two members for longer categories.
will prepare a PowerPoint or other learning materials to support group
learning. The materials will be of sufficient quality to be shared outside the
group, or to be used as resources for subsequent Green Belt study groups.
Members will post their materials to the Quality Net site prior to the
conference call, with sufficient time for other members to download and review
assigned to the categories will lead their conference call, with additional
facilitation by Jim Toney to clarify concepts, promote group discussion and knowledge
sharing, and reinforce self-learning. Group discussion will be documented by
Jim Toney (initially; others may be assigned on rotating basis) use of a
meeting template, attendance, an agenda listing key topics, and a summary of
any issues or actions to be resolved, with documentation posted to the Quality
Net site within one week.
part of each conference call will be a discussion on the applicability of the
body of knowledge to current and future work. Discussion documentation, , will be analyzed and reported by Jennifer Dewey as an
organizational-level deliverable to be shared with ICFI leadership (most likely
to be George Lowden at corporate level, and TMS, Z-Tech and Macro) in January 2010.
are free to contact each other individually or with requests to the group to
ask questions, seek information, share information, etc. via e-mail, telephone,
and the Quality Net site. It is desired that members conduct discussions via
Quality Net to promote transparent communication and provide an opportunity for
all to contribute to the discussion. There is a Wiki capability that may be
member will apply to ASQ by October 16,
2009 to take the exam on December 5,
Assessment and Sustainability
The group will be assessed on process and outcomes. Process
evaluation will entail a determination of the: 1) extent to which the plan was
implemented as intended; 2) quality to which activities were conducted; 3)
amount of participation from members; and 4) satisfaction with the process.
Specifically, the process evaluation will document the
What group activities were actually
implemented (versus what was planned)?
Were group activities implemented
according to schedule?
Were group activities implemented
according to their description in the plan?
What mid-course corrections were made?
How satisfied were members with the
An outcome evaluation will firstly assess if all group
members passed the exam. Regardless of success, each member, including Jim
Toney and Lisa Gabel, will be surveyed in regard to final reflections on the
process as it helped or didn’t help them prepare for the exam. Staff interest
in continuing onto a Black Belt, and whether they would want to use this
learning process as a component in mastering the Black Belt body of knowledge
and preparing for the certification exam.
Process and outcome evaluation, along with documentation of the
applicability of the body of knowledge to current and future work from
conference calls, will be provided by Jennifer Dewey as an organizational-level
deliverable to be shared with ICFI leadership in January 2010. Included in this
deliverable will be recommendations on educating future staff on the Six Sigma
Green Belt body of knowledge, and member desire for Black Belt certification.
Information Sheet – Topics for Introductions
work in ICF’s _____ office, but where do you live?
has implemented a no-holds barred telecommuting policy. Where do you and your
laptop, Blackberry and mobile phone really want to live?
is a professional passion of yours?
is a personal passion of yours?
do the two intersect (if at all)?
kind of learner are you (e.g., visual, etc.)? How can the group help you to
is the one question you want to ask group members?
Positive outcomes of the Learning Circle
1) The "perceived" peer pressure to meet deadlines prompted each member to review the needed materials.
2) The presentation assignments prompted each member to learn their assigned material well enough to teach it to others.
3) Particpants were reassured to learn that not everyone
understood the material perfectly. This was especially important as we
moved from high-level theory and principles to in-depth statistics.
4) We also realized that the American Society for Quality's
primary handbook on Six Sigma for Green Belt Certification wasn't the
best resource. Several participants found other resources, many through
the Indiana Quality Council, that they are using to supplement the ASQ
1) The group would have liked some time to collect issues of
concern, confusion, etc. a few days prior to a designated presentation,
which would have helped to address topics of real concern.
2) The group recommends for the future, some additional statisical
presentation be provided to give a common foundation for all
participants in this area.
3) Because of the group's discomfort with the ASQ book, many of us
will not take the exam on December 5, 2009, but conduct further study
and take it in June 2010.
Finally, the group recommended that each of us sign up as a mentor
to future cohort participants if ICFI runs another Six Sigma learning