Are there Bronze, Silver and Gold Belts ahead for Lean?

Lean Certification Program Sponsored by AME, SME and Shingo Prize

My Sunday blog post is typically from a Business901 affiliate. This week I would like to use the opportunity to highlight a Lean certification program designed by three organizations – the Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME), the Association for Manufacturing Excellence (AME), and The Shingo Prize for Excellence in Manufacturing – this alliance has established the standard for continuous improvement and Lean practices. My post is not intended to add any fuel to the fire on whether certification is needed. If certification is something that needs to be debated these three organizations have at least step forward and started to establish some criteria for certification. So if certification is around the corner will we have Bronze, Silver and Gold belts. If not belts, maybe shoes. We do walk to Gemba!

From the SME site:

This Lean program is the benchmark for achievements and personal growth in Lean.

Individual Benefits: Why begin the Lean journey?

  • Develop career planning milestones
  • Gain a portable, career credential
  • Share and gain Lean knowledge through mentoring others
  • Align to the Lean knowledge and competency standard
  • Attain abilities recognized across the industry
  • Develop a portfolio of your experience

Company Benefits: Why have employees begin the Lean journey?

  • With an established Lean standard, companies enjoy a clear understanding of the capability of their resources.
  • Provides the opportunity for significant training and development.
  • Mentoring is a fundamental part of the Lean program, helping to mold new Lean experts
  • Standardize Lean practices within organizations, regardless of size or industry


Lean Levels

Do you have any thoughts on Lean Certification?

4 thoughts on “Are there Bronze, Silver and Gold Belts ahead for Lean?”

  1. I was involved in the development of the certification–supporting and facilitating the industry people who wanted it and built it. It is rigorous, and requires projects which are part of building a portfolio which is evaluated by higher-level certified practioners. Mentoring is required as well, which results in coaching for those aspiring to the Bronze and Silver levels. There are exams at each level, but passing those is not sufficient for achieving the certification. The exam questions were created using a research-based standardized template and reviewed by peers trained in the criteria for validity. The exams are administered and scored by a third party service which randomizes the questions from a pool of a required size. SME has well-developed certification systems and has administered certifications of its own for decades. A number of companies as well as NIST are using the certification as the standard for their employees or consultants.

  2. I have been through each level of this process and know first hand that attaining the different levels is rigorous and requires a significant commitment on the part of the candidate to prepare for the exams and develop solid project portfolios. There is a high value placed on the experiential portfolios in the certification process and the people who review the portfolios provide good feedback and suggestions that can help candidates proceed on their professional lean journey.

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