Linking Lean Thinking to Education – Conference Notes: Lean Certification
My apologies for the delay in following through with posts from the EdNet / LEAN conference. Here’s a bit on one of the presentations from the conference that I’m sure will spur on some discussion.
Randall Cook from Utah State University presented on the availability of Lean Certification from SME in conjunction with AME and The Shingo Prize. Here’s a rundown of certification basics from the presentation. You can find all the details on the SME site.
The idea for certification is to provide lean practitioners with credible evidence of their lean knowledge from a third party and to establish a standard by which to gauge understanding and experience in lean. There are three certification categories, Bronze, Silver and Gold, each of which is valid for 3 years.
Bronze certification is mean to establish a level of knowledge and demonstrated application of key lean principles and tools. Silver recognizes achievements as a project leader and Gold is intended to recognize enterprise wide lean transformations.
Certification is awarded by a peer group and is based on knowledge as demonstrated through successfully passing a written exam, as well as review of portfolios submitted by applicants and formal training requirements. Exams are based on required reading and are multiple choice. (The SME site has a sample test consisting of 10 questions taken from the Bronze exam – I scored 9/10 but I’m sure many of you will get a perfect score). Reading lists are included on the SME site as well. The portfolios are composed of examples of actual lean projects and reflection. The form provided is similar to an A3.
The cost to take the exam is about $250 for SME members and $600 for non-members. The SME site does not have actual prices listed for Lean Certification so these are estimates from other exams listed which were all in the same range.
The question is, does being ‘Lean Certified’ provide any value to individuals or organizations? It was interesting that the presentation on Lean Certification followed Womack’s address to the group in which he questioned the underlying value of certificates as indicators of knowledge. Womack used a personal example to illustrate his point that individuals ‘know what they use’ and explained that his evaluation process for potential employees does not even include review of a resume. He solely bases his hiring decisions based on examples of work and experiences.
Personally, I can see how being certified in lean could help boost my resume and potentially enhance my mobility, but I’m not sure if this is worth $250 of my own cash every 3 years. What does everyone else think about lean certification? Is there any value to individuals? Is there any value to organizations?