Update on the SME/AME/Shingo Lean Certification

I got an update today from the people who are coordinating the joint standardized Lean Certification Program. This is being developed by the Association for Manufacturing Excellence (AME), the Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME), and the Shingo Prize group (who apparently decided that an acronym is “muda”).

From their press release:

The Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME) and the 360vu Research and Education Foundation announced today that the Lean Certification Bronze-level exam will be used as an outcome assessment as part of the 360vu Foundation’s Lean Enterprise Certification Program. The 360vu Foundation has a goal of training and certifying more than 1,900 individuals between June 2006 and December 2007.

The exam will be used for Lean Enterprise Certification programs offered through the Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP), a system of manufacturing extension centers throughout the nation. Rather than creating a separate exam and certification process, 360vu opted to work with SME. Individuals who pass the exam will be awarded a Knowledge certificate. This certificate is not a certification, just recognition that the exam has been passed and an individual has the requisite knowledge of lean at a bronze or tactical level.

The 360vu Lean Enterprise Certification Program is a program was developed by the Foundation in partnership with the NIST Manufacturing Extension Partnership and the US Department of Labor under the Employment and Training Administration’s High Growth Job Training Initiative.

The Certification is a blended learning approach of classroom learning coupled with hands-on, on the factory floor application of lean principles within a participant’s own company. The Lean Certificate will provide US workers with the knowledge and skills that will help increase the competitiveness of US manufacturing, and will start them on the first step to completing the SME-AME-Shingo Prize Bronze-Level Lean Certification requirements.

For information about the SME-AME-Shingo Prize Lean Certification program: www.sme.org/leancert

Does anybody here plan on going through the certification process? Does anyone know what employers will value this, or as an employer would you prefer to hire someone with this certification? Would you encourage your employees to do this?

The concern I have with certification programs is that it’s sometimes too easy to take some tests and get a certificate that proves nothing definitive other than you figured out how to pass a test (you could say that about my own APICS CPIM certification).

Now, I’m encouraged by the AME/SME/Shingo effort in that it requires demonstrated lean success, not just theory and book knowledge. So, if this is going to be the accepted standard certification, it’s better than having one that’s just a matter of a test (or even worse, a 5-day “certification” program).

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Mark Graban's passion is creating a better, safer, more cost effective healthcare system for patients and better workplaces for all. Mark is a consultant, author, and speaker in the "Lean healthcare" methodology. He is author of the Shingo Award-winning books Lean Hospitals and Healthcare Kaizen, as well as The Executive Guide to Healthcare Kaizen. His most recent project is an book titled Practicing Lean that benefits the Louise H. Batz Patient Safety Foundation, where Mark is a board member. Mark is also the VP of Improvement & Innovation Services for the technology company KaiNexus.

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