Six Sigma Scholarship for Veterans Pays Off

Authored By: A.T. Houston

Wings for Heroes Logo (White)

SSMI Lean Six Sigma Black Belt Program for Veterans and Transitioning Military Personnel

The Marines have a saying, Semper Fidelis, which means always faithful. Former Marine and the co-founder of Six Sigma, Dr. Mikel Harry continues to sponsor a Lean Six Sigma Black Belt scholarship program to help veterans transition to six-figure positions by offering companies their mastery of business process improvement skills.

Dr. Harry has many success stories regarding the program which commenced in early 2013. He shared a Gulf War Veteran’s letter recently on his blog,

“Within weeks of completing the certification and working with you, I accepted an offer of employment today for a full-time permanent supply chain project manager position. My starting salary is $100,000.00 per year with a $5,000.00 signing bonus, plus excellent benefits. The bar is very high, and now it is time to get to work.”

Through, Six Sigma Wings for Heroes (SSWH) is awarding scholarships to Marine veterans, reservists, active-duty personnel, and family members.

SSWH is not asking for any donations, matching contributions, or economic pledges. Rather, Dr. Harry has dedicated himself to fund the scholarships as his way of making a difference to those who have sacrificed so much for our nation. is asking Marines to submit a personal letter via email, stating the reason(s) they want the scholarship and how they feel it would impact their chances at finding work and advance their post military careers.

Letters should be sent to Leaders at and SSWH will review all submissions and award the scholarships based on the impact and creativity of the entries. The program will continue until all 300 scholarships donated have been granted.

About Six Sigma Wings for Heroes

A dimension of Six Sigma Management Institute (SSMI) is about giving back to the men and women that have safeguarded our great nation and sacrificed so much on our behalf. ​

The founder of SSMI, Dr. Mikel Harry, believes in getting Veterans personally involved, investing in themselves, and becoming qualified to step into high paying jobs with security, as well as vertical and horizontal job mobility.

With this aim, Dr. Harry and the institute’s staff created the SSMI Military and Veteran Lean Six Sigma Black Belt Training and Certification Scholarship Program. Essentially, this program covers nearly 80% of the recipient’s cost. What makes this scholarship so unique is the way in which it is organized and implemented.

​Scholarship recipients receive world-class online Black Belt training from Dr. Harry, who is the co-creator of Six Sigma and a National Best Selling Author on the subject, and they are also supported through online one-on-one coaching by certified Subject Matter Experts. In addition, there are a host of other learning resources and products that are a part of the scholarship.

For more information, see Cover Page V2.0

Posted in Careers for Veterans, Jobs for Veterans, Six Sigma (Training), Six Sigma (Veterans) | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Why You Should Be Experimenting

Authored By: Mikel J. Harry, Ph.D.

Man Perplexed

The human mind is often perplexed and confused by all of the cause-and-effect events happening around us. While the cause of some things is self-evident, others are not. For those that are not, we attempt to manipulate certain causes in an effort to discover what happens to something of interest. If such testing is arbitrary, sporadic and without structure, our conclusions are at risk of being declared true when, in reality, they were false — and vice versa.

However, if we bring scientific order to the ways and means we manipulate and test the speculative causes, we can greatly reduce the risk of drawing false conclusions. The ways and means of scientifically doing this is called “Design of Experiments,” or DOE as it is often referred to. Through the scientific process of DOE we are able to more confidently link potential causes to certain effects.

Thus, we are able to exert better control over the world around us; thereby, giving us the choice to improve the quality of our lives in a more purposeful, deliberate and confident way. Only in this way can we strip our fate from the jaws of perplexity, uncertainty and chaos. When we achieve victory over nature, we can set a course that is of our own choosing.


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Top 20 Capabilities of an Executive Business Improvement Leader

Authored By: Mikel J. Harry, Ph.D.

Leadership Compass

According to the 2014 CEO surveys conducted by several highly respected organizations, there has been a fundamental shift in business priorities [1].  After a detailed examination and study of the survey results, this author was able to draw several decisive conclusions.  The first conclusion is related to the shift in business strategy.  Essentially, the strategic shift can be characterized by the following statement.

Today’s CEO’s are strategically focusing on increasing revenues and business growth through organic means.

Growth through mergers and acquisitions is no longer considered a viable alternative.  Although cost cutting through efficiency improvements is still on the radar screen, it has taken a back seat to growth.  In fact, chief economist Bart van Ark stated:

“The research suggests that the era of cost cutting is finally coming to an end and that companies are positioning themselves for growth.”

In order to enable the growth strategy, CEO’s plan to employ the following tactics:

1. Cultivate and retain new as well as existing customers.  Winning back lost customers is also on the playing field.  Naturally, the success of such strategies is ultimately dependent upon improving the company’s overall value proposition in the marketplace.  Consequently, the velocity at which value can be created will come center-stage in the battle to increase profitability while gaining market position.

2. Create and retain critical internal talent.  Given the shift toward organic growth (while tending to operational costs), the need for executive-level business improvement leaders will greatly increase and be on-going over the long haul.  However, there is currently a great shortage of individuals with the necessary competencies to design and lead strategic business improvement projects.  So, until the supply and demand ratio finds its equilibrium point, companies will likely have to grow their own business improvement leaders or turn to external sources.

3. Improve leadership development.  Beyond question, developing and sustaining leadership talent (at all levels) is an on going necessity for every corporation.  However, in light of the strategic shift to business growth (after years of cost cutting), the uncompromising need for a new breed of improvement leader is at hand.  While most of today’s well-managed companies have an adequate supply of process improvement leaders, there is a stark shortfall of strategic business improvement leaders.  Again, this means that companies must immediately develop a strategy and supporting system to generate and sustain an adequate supply of business improvement leaders with the knowledge and skills necessary to align business improvement projects with the goals and objectives of the company.

4. Leverage Business Analytics.  The use of business analytics refers to the skills, technologies, practices for continuous iterative exploration and investigation of past business performance to gain insight and drive business planning.  Business analytics focuses on developing new insights and understanding of business performance based on data and statistical methods [2].  Owing to this understanding, strategic business improvement leaders will not only need to have a strong business acumen and financial literacy, they will also need to posses statistical skills, as well as have a viable understanding of process improvement methods.

Based on the aforementioned conclusions and other research, as well as personal experience, this author (in conjunction with his research team), identified the top 20 capabilities that a strategic business improvement leader should possess.  In this sense, a business improvement leader should be able to:

  1. Gain access into the company’s inner circle of power and influence
  2. Get executives to trust your knowledge, skills and leadership
  3. Recruit an executive sponsor that will be your mentor and guardian
  4. Capture the executive mind and show the way to business victory
  5. Develop and sell strategic plans to increase the velocity of value
  6. Develop a business acumen that is integrated with your analytical skills
  7. Shift people’s thinking to the Quality-of-Business, not the Business-of-Quality
  8. Speak the language of business and finance with a senior executive team
  9. Plan, operate and thrive in the light of circumstantial ambiguity
  10. Negotiate the acquisition of scarce resources and top talent
  11. Command the attention, respect and confidence of your peers
  12. Employ your existing analytical skills to diagnose business performance
  13. Design and implement a vertically correlated metrics system
  14. Leverage corporate politics to build vital relationships
  15. Design, build and sustain an ecosystem of business improvement
  16. Connect the Voice-of-the-Customer to the Voice-of-Business
  17. Capture the Voice-of-Society to isolate new business opportunities
  18. Increase the true value of your company’s products and services
  19. Increase consensus and eliminate biases in the decision making process
  20. Build a workforce of world-class process improvement leaders

To build these capabilities, the Six Sigma Management Institute located in Scottsdale, Arizona has developed the Executive Master Black Belt Training and Certification Program under the leadership of Dr. Mikel J. Harry, co-creator of Six Sigma and consultant to many of the world’s top business executives.


[1] Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Gartner, KMPG and PWC.

[2] Wikipedia.  Subject Reference: Business Analytics

For more information on how to become a Certified Executive Master Black Belt, please contact:

Don P. Drury

Executive Vice President

Sales & Marketing

Six Sigma Management Institute

720-272-2855 direct

EMBB Cover Sheet.png

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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
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Gulf War Veteran Shares Six Sigma Story

Todd Eggers (MindPro Black Belt) PNG V2.0

I am a Continuous Improvement Professional and a Gulf War-era United States Veteran. I had the privilege of serving from 1988 to 1992 in the United States Marine Corps, where I worked in the supply chain management and physical distribution/logistics fields.

Reflecting back, I would say my continuous improvement days started in my youth on the farm where I would try to be the best farmer I could be, whether that meant finding better, more efficient and effective ways to plant & harvest crops, eliminate waste and effectively and humanely raise pigs and cattle. Our intention was always to improve! If we created effective solutions, the operation cost us more money to run and the end result—crop yields, daily rate of gain on livestock, mortality rates, equipment utilization and efficiency—were not where we needed them to be for us to grow, keep farming, be competitive and stay in business.

Throughout my career, I have served on process improvement teams in leadership, individual   contributor roles and managed and led supply management efforts, operations and technology teams. I have consulted at companies like John Deere, Cargill, Syngenta, Cabela’s, Allianz, and worked in full-time roles for Land O’ Lakes, Best Buy, Medica and other enterprise companies.

One commonality I have discovered is that most organizations, want to take better care of their customers and execute their daily business processes better. Not many organizations initially know how to efficiently identify, target and promote the vital few critical to value, quality and process characteristics, that which will change their business for the better, create significant breakthrough and make them robust to risks of all kinds including defects, data, people and material variances, wastes in operations, changes in environment, inefficient processes, ineffective practices and many others.

The lean six sigma body of knowledge, properly understood and executed, will create the sustainable breakthrough change we see in leading world-class companies today. The Six Sigma Management Institute (SSMI) is the top organization of its kind in the world and they will show you how to do this in a practical and applicable way so that you can use it every day on the job, for you and your employers benefit.

On a scale of 1-10, I give the SSMI & Team a rating of 1,000,000. This is the best program of its kind on the planet, it has the best value and highest reward and you can progress at a pace that works for you. The MindPro learning system is the best I have ever seen.

I turned 50 this summer and looking back at over 22 years in the business world and 4 years serving in the military, enrolling in the SSMI Wings for Heroes/ Six Sigma Blackbelt program in 2014 is the best decision I have ever made! I successfully completed the academic program and certification training project. The black belt program is designed to help you learn and understand the lean six sigma body of knowledge at a level I never thought possible.  Now I can take this real-world, pragmatic, very applicable skill set and use it daily in any business or organization, to help them improve and take better care of their customers, benefiting stakeholders and employees.

I can’t emphasize this point enough. If you enjoy quality and continuous improvement, helping organizations to improve their processes on a daily basis, then please do yourself a favor and apply to this program. The SSMI has many programs available to fit your needs and where you are on your lean six sigma journey.

I am fortunate to have been accepted into the SSMI Military Program and like I said before, pursuing my black belt with Dr. Mikel Harry and his team, is the best thing I have ever done throughout my professional working career.

Thank you to Dr. Harry, Sandy, Don and the entire team at SSMI. You are the best!


“Thanks to Dr. Harry and Team for the opportunity to complete the Six Sigma Management Institute Lean Six Sigma Black Belt certification and for all of their leadership with that process.

Within weeks of completing the certification and working with you, I accepted an offer of employment today for a full-time permanent supply chain project manager position. My starting salary is $100,000.00 per year and a $5000.00 signing bonus, plus full-time excellent benefits. The bar is very high and now it is time to get to work.”

Thank you to you all.



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How to Hold Executives Accountable

We all know that Y=f(X), where Y is the “effect” and X is the “cause.” Together, let’s employ this line of reasoning to the evaluation of a CEO’s performance.

In this case, it’s easy to see that the performance criteria of any given CEO must first be identified, defined, quantified and validated. If such criterion are not present, then any performance assessment is merely a subjective evaluation (often called the “rubber-ruler” of success). Obviously, when such a subjective form of evaluation is at play, there is little or no accountability.

Continuing with this way of reasoning, we naturally understand that each performance measure (Y) must be connected or otherwise correlated to the “vital few” determinants (X’s). They too must also be identified, defined, quantified and validated.

Assuming there is a high degree of association between the selected Y’s and X’s, only then should the cycle of “cause-and-effect” be connected to the CEO’s incentive plan (reward system). At this point, the “CEO Dashboard” is complete and ready for implementation.

Of course, the aforementioned process can be applied to any job role, not just the CEO position.

The real key here is not so much the process (as it’s been demonstrated to work), but why so many governing Boards fail to insist on the use of such performance dashboards. Just imagine the hours of debate, emotionalism, finger-pointing, political drama and leadership strife that could be reduced or eliminated by applying a CEO dashboard.

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What is Product Value?

Value is simply “bang-per-buck.” In this case, “bang” is just the number of benefits you are able to enjoy by virtue of purchasing the given product, service, transaction or event. The “buck” is rather self-explanitory.

The Nature of Product Value

So, the phrase “bang-per-buck” can be heuristically expressed as: Value = Benefits / Cost.  For example, let’s say a certain type of product has 10 core benefits per unit. We’ll also say that the customer must pay $5.00 per unit to recieve and enjoy those core benefits. Thus, the Entitlement Unit Value (EUV) would be: EUV = Benefits / Cost = 10 / $5.00  = 2 Benefits per Dollar.  In this case, the term “entitlement” is a rightful level of expectation often determined by negotiation.

However, its entirely possible that only a fraction of the total benefits can be realized (i.e., partial benefit). For example, the aforementioned product may have one or more deficiencies (of one type or another) that only allows 80% of the EUV to be enjoyed. Thus, the Realized Unit Value (RUV) would be: RUV = Q x EUV = .80 x 2 = 1.6 Benefits per Dollar. The difference between the EUV and RUV is “lost value.” The is the value that has been paid for, but not received.

The aforementioned explaination is at the highest level of generalization and understanding. Granted, there are a near infinite number of mitigating circumstances; however, at this level of discussion, such myopic factors need not be weighted into the discusion (at the risk of loosing sight of the central concepts).

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