When Zaira Medina-Rodriguez was given the opportunity to enroll in a professional development course that promised to not only improve her job performance, but also boost her resume and make her a better overall employee, she jumped at the idea.
Florida Polytechnic University offers the Lean Six Sigma process improvement training certification courses to employees who demonstrate a desire to improve their problem-solving skills and streamline operations in their office. The courses are offered free of cost.
“It’s a great opportunity and it benefits the University, so we can clean up processes and improve our departments,” said Medina-Rodriguez, an academic affairs administrative assistant who is the first employee to earn both the Six Sigma Yellow Belt and Lean Yellow Belt certifications.
The Lean Six Sigma program is designed to help workers across all industries identify problems, assemble the right resources to address them, and then implement a long-term solution. Lean and Six Sigma are two distinct methodologies that are intended to be deployed together as part of an organization’s strategic continuous improvement framework.
“This is really just about helping people,” said John Fico, adjunct professor of business analytics and supply chain management who teaches the Lean Six Sigma courses. “Even more than saying we want to be better problem solvers, we just want to get better at what we’re doing in a systematic way.”
Fico began offering the course to Florida Poly employees in 2018 after Dr. Randy K. Avent, Florida Poly’s president, expressed a desire to give faculty and staff members access to a continuous improvement program. The program’s primary objective is to drive projects across the University that help reduce operating costs and improve “customer” experience.
A total of 32 employees have completed the Lean Six Sigma courses thus far, and of those 14 earned their certification by completing a project.
The Six Sigma Yellow Belt and Lean Yellow Belt courses are eight-hours over two weeks. The Six Sigma Yellow Belt course focuses on process variation reduction and improving quality, while the Lean Yellow Belt course focuses on process waste reduction and improving workflow.
The Six Sigma Green Belt course meets weekly throughout a semester and provides statistical and graphical tools for complex problems that may take a significant amount of time to solve.
The belt colors are modeled after martial arts and designate training and competency levels.
One of the completed Florida Poly projects standardized the recruitment process for international students, and another reduced the costs for handling, transporting, and disposing of trash and recyclable material.
“If enough people in the organization in different roles are doing these smaller projects, over time that has a cumulative effect that can really make a productivity impact on the University as a whole,” Fico said.
To register for the next available course, employees should talk with their supervisor and visit the Lean Six Sigma webpage for more information.
“It’s a great opportunity. If your supervisor lets you take the class, take it,” Medina-Rodriguez said. “The best part is that it’s free. If you look to take this course somewhere else, it’s about $2,000.”
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