A Story of Personal Victory Told by an Executive Master Black Belt

Authored by: Identity Withheld by Request

Artwork Face with Diploma and Medal

Introduction and Overview

Over the years, I have held leadership positions in several large F500 companies. The primary aim of my assignments was to enhance the organization’s improvement programs. However, depending on the type and extent of support from top leadership, and their position in the global cycle of business, the program’s strength would ebb and flow. To change this, it was apparent that I need to start getting closer to the top leadership. Only in this way could I influence their decision making and have a true impact on the company’s destiny while enhancing my career.

Then, in early June of 2014, I had the opportunity to gain my Executive Master Black Belt (EMBB) credential from the Six Sigma Management Institute (SSMI) via the world-class education offered by Dr. Mikel Harry, Co-Creator of Six Sigma. Through this extraordinary program, I was able to greatly extend and refine my view of how business actually works. Equally important, I discovered new ways to use my existing analytical skills to improve the financial performance of an organization, as well as how to practice strategic leadership. Thus, I was able to enhance my career positioning and, at the same time, prepare for an upcoming opportunity.

EMBB Program Highlights

The EMBB program offered a new and exciting set of concepts, tools and methods.  During the course of this program, I learned how to:

  1. Develop a strong sense of business acumen through an understanding of the top twenty financial metrics commonly used to determine the direction and health of a business.
  2. Recognize when strategic leadership should prevail over tactical leadership and how the strategic form can be applied to leverage top end growth.
  3. Design and lead strategic, business-level projects aimed at organically increasing business revenue by improving the value proposition of an organization, as well as the velocity of delivered value.
  4. Convert, correlate and integrate performance measures that links the bottom of the organization to the top in a highly traceable and verifiable way.
  5. Negotiate robust solutions for virtually any type or set of business conditions and goals.
  6. Statistically analyze and abate financial and operational risks
  7. Diagnose the financial performance of a business to identify chains of suboptimal performance that emanate from the operational and process levels of an organization.
  8. Recognize and define “moments of truth” than have the power to either accelerate or barricade the roll-out or deployment of any type of improvement initiative.
  9. Guide a team to high quality decisions that reflects the greatest amount of agreement with minimum uncertainty in a short period of time.
  10. Apply classical statistical tools like analysis-of-variance, regression and design of experiments to uncover optimal business-level solutions to financial problems.

At the end of my formal EMBB training experience, I gained a new sense of leadership and business wisdom.  Specifically, I discovered how to leverage the power of analytics, people, leadership and strategic thinking to markedly grow a business by improving tangible customer value (for any type or size of company).

Encountering a Career Opportunity

Two months after completing the EMBB program of study, I had an opportunity to connect with a former colleague at a firm that provided professional services for Fortune 1,000 companies.   Although the role was focused on operations, there was an increasing call by prospective clients to improve the performance of their “quality program.” Interestingly, most of these clients had some type of Operational Excellence or Lean Six Sigma program underway.

As expected, without the leadership of someone like an EMBB, their responses to a Request-for-Proposal (RFP) to build a “quality program” lacked the necessary details and onsite capabilities to make a substantial and sustainable reduction in defects, waste and operating costs. In other words, their response to the quality question in a RFP was sufficient to close the deal, but somewhat lacking in how to achieve and exceed process standards, as well as meet certain cost expectations. Owing to this, there was a clear need to find and leverage their own “quality leader” to drive out waste and defects, but also have the skills necessary to create and present a strong business value proposition in the marketplace.

After networking with a senior executive in their organization, my discussions within this firm became more focused, purposeful and meaningful. Generally speaking, I saw a good fit to their culture. There was also a good match between my professional skill set and their need for growth — while continuing to improve quality and reduce costs.

Searching for Common Ground

Every new opportunity begins with an offering of services that represents clear value. I explained several key business aspects and highlights of the EMBB program – especially my new-found skills for linking the operational side of an organization to the business side of things.

This is where my EMBB training kicked in. I began to speak the language of management to them — money and time.  This allowed us to shift the discussions in a true win-win direction that was founded on moving the needle of business, not just by better matching skills and experience against standardized pay-grades and job descriptions.

As a result of these business-centric discussions, we came to agree upon a role that would enable the organization to develop and lead the Voice-of-Quality (VOQ) within the business, as well as with clients. Essentially, my description of the EMBB program and its key learnings spoke for itself in designing this potential role.  It did more than make common-sense, it made business sense.

The career opportunity that was in front of me embraced many aspects of my unique knowledge and skills. We agreed that this would be instrumental in changing the culture while aiding in growing the business and reducing the cost of doing business.  Basically, this drove the ongoing discussions to a win-win solution.  So, within weeks, I was able to leverage both my collective learnings and my new EMBB brand into an outstanding opportunity.

Enjoying the Benefits

Two months into the role I am satisfied and hungry for additional responsibilities that embrace all my skill sets. Bottom line, my EMBB achievement played a vital role in landing and shaping my new job position and function, as well as the related compensation package. In this sense, my heightened ability to influence others has already been tested and proven.


For more information about the Executive Master Black Belt Program of Study or the next available class, visit the Official EMBB Website or contact:

Don Drury
Executive Vice President
Sales & Marketing
Six Sigma Management Institute
Note 1: In-depth program testimonials can be viewed at EMBB Testimonals.
Note 2: A program overview can be viewed at EMBB Brochure.
EMBB Cover Sheet

About Mikel Harry

Dr. Harry has been widely recognized in many of today's notable publications as the Co-Creator of Six Sigma and the world's leading authority within this field. His book entitled Six Sigma: The Breakthrough Management Strategy Revolutionizing the World’s Top Corporations has been on the best seller list of the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Business Week, and Amazon.com. He has been a consultant to many of the world’s top senior executives, such as Jack Welch, former CEO and Chairman of General Electric Corporation. Dr. Harry has also been a featured guest on popular television programs, such as the premier NBC show "Power Lunch." He is often quoted in newspapers like USA Today and interviewed by the media, such as The Economic Times. In addition, Dr. Harry has received many distinguished awards in recognition of his contributions to industry and society. At the present time, Dr. Harry is Chairman of the Six Sigma Management Institute and CEO of The Great Discovery, LLC.
This entry was posted in Business Leadership, Six Sigma (Stories), Value Creation and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s