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Teaching the next generation of Lean Six Sigma problem-solvers

January 27, 2021

By Justin Powell

Alan Goodman takes pride in helping his students prepare for the next phase of life. Regardless of the career path they pursue, he knows there are specific skills that can help them succeed.

"When I talk to companies, what they want most are employees who can think critically and solve problems," he said. "Being able to come in and do the job you're asked to do is great, but if you're able to see the big picture and be a problem‐solver, that's how you really add value."

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As a certified Black Belt, Goodman knows firsthand how valuable Lean Six Sigma training can be. That's why he emphasizes it through his role as the Instructional Chair for the Quality Engineering and Technology program at the Milwaukee Area Technical College (MATC). This program is part of the college's STEM Pathway, available as both an Associate Degree program or stand‐alone courses that include Lean Six Sigma training at the most affordable prices in the area.

While Goodman knows that understanding Lean Six Sigma is important, it's even more valuable to be able to put the principles into practice in the real world. That's why he decided to build his college curriculum based on MoreSteam's interactive eLearning courses, paired with open‐ended simulations that give students the chance to practice those problem‐solving skills employers covet.

"When I took this program over in August 2019, it had been dormant for the last five years," he said. "My goal now is to grow this program while helping students understand how valuable these skills can be for their future. If you were to search for positions where Lean Six Sigma is part of the job, you'd find about 5,000 in Wisconsin alone."

That includes opportunities in a wide variety industries, including healthcare, finance, service, and more. Although many of his current students are pursuing careers in manufacturing, Goodman is hoping to expand his pool of students.

"I'm a Black Belt with experience on the service side, so I know how valuable this training is in that world," he said. "The growth I'm trying to pursue with this program is to expand beyond manufacturing. Northwestern Mutual is a good example — they're headquartered just down the road from us, and they're always looking for people with Lean SIx Sigma experience.

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"An executive at another local company was just telling me they'd rather hire someone with Lean training even more than someone who has experience at the position. They can always teach someone how to do the job, but not everyone comes into it with the problem‐solving skills we're teaching here."

In addition to the MoreSteam eLearning course and simulations like St. Sigma Teaching Lab and Sherlock Holmes Zombie Hunter, Goodman supplements the curriculum with webcasts and movies that relate to Lean Six Sigma, like "Moneyball" and "The Founder." The goal, he says, is to help students understand just how valuable these skills can be in the business world.

"These need to be viewed as leadership skills," he said. "If you're looking for a path to leadership — if you want to move up in your company — you must be able to think critically and offer solutions. That's what students are getting from this program."