White and Yellow and Green Belts

White and Yellow and Green Belts, Oh My!Scott Hudson

I like to think I'm experienced enough to know about humans and their resistance to change, however just recently I was sent back to school for some serious education, a class I like to call "Don't Mess With the Belts 101."
I think back to about a year ago when Scott McCammant, the President of Spectralux tells me he would like to have more "Belts" in the office (referring to the ASQ Six Sigma Black Belts, Green Belt, and Yellow Belt Certifications). At the time we had only a couple employees with Green Belts in the office and their certs were 15 years old. My initial thought was we have been in business for 40+ years and our Quality and On-Time Metrics are 99.5% or above year after year, what do we need more Belts for? I wasn't really that naive but I was preparing myself for the challenge of change, since the average years of service at Spectralux is over 15. Well, I have to say I was pleasantly surprised when many of our employees wanted to be a part of the Belt series and little did I know what would happen next.
We have had Everett Community College in our facility for the past 8 months and we now have 7 certified Green Belts and 14 Yellow Belt candidates waiting to take their certification exam. Not only are they excited about learning the different tools, they're excited about making changes... personal changes. They will learn something in class and then take their homework and apply it to their current role and Spectralux. These onsite classes have been helpful in many different ways, employees/students have been studying together and it's been a huge team building exercise. Yellow Belts are asking Green Belts for advice and "digs" are happening all over. This movement has been very powerful around here in fact now we're trying to slow it down just a little but the students are quick to give you the look and comment "don't mess with the belts."
Scott Hudson is Human Resources Manager at Spectralux Avionics in Redmond.