Featured Product
This Week in Quality Digest Live
Six Sigma Features
Mark Rosenthal
The intersection between Toyota kata and VSM
Scott A. Hindle
Part 7 of our series on statistical process control in the digital era
Adam Grant
Wharton’s Adam Grant discusses unlocking hidden potential
Scott A. Hindle
Part 6 of our series on SPC in a digital era
Douglas C. Fair
Part 5 of our series on statistical process control in the digital era

More Features

Six Sigma News
Helps managers integrate statistical insights into daily operations
How to use Minitab statistical functions to improve business processes
Sept. 28–29, 2022, at the MassMutual Center in Springfield, MA
Elsmar Cove is a leading forum for quality and standards compliance
Is the future of quality management actually business management?
Too often process enhancements occur in silos where there is little positive impact on the big picture
Collect measurements, visual defect information, simple Go/No-Go situations from any online device
Good quality is adding an average of 11 percent to organizations’ revenue growth

More News

Kyle Toppazzini

Six Sigma

How Recruiting Firms Sabotage Quality Management Methods

By disregarding qualifications, recruiters lead clients down the path of poor results

Published: Friday, October 5, 2012 - 14:57

I have seen organizational lean or lean Six Sigma job requirements stating that any level of certification from almost any institution is acceptable, at least according to the recruiter. But guess what? Taking a four-hour online course on lean, lean Six Sigma, or any other quality management framework does not mean you are qualified to do the work.

How can recruitment firms, in good conscience, lead their clients down a path of poor results? To get their 10–20-percent margins, recruitment firms are hard at work finding anyone who mentions the words lean, lean Six Sigma, or quality management in his curriculum vitae. If you don’t have the designation, that’s no problem. Just pay $100 to take a four-hour online course, and you will meet the requirements for the job position—requirements for which there is no minimum level of certification.

The recruitment firms’ objectives are to win the work, take their margins, and move on. The scenario is equivalent to taking a four-hour online course on cars and saying you earned the title of mechanic. Would you bring your car to a person who had taken this four-hour online course? Of course you wouldn’t, even if this person’s rates were much cheaper than those of an actual mechanic. The same goes for hiring a quality management professional whose credentials amount to a four-hour online course.

What can quality management professionals do?

What can you do to ensure that organizations are not left picking up the mess of a quality management project that was implemented by someone who lacked the skills, training, and experience to implement the project correctly? You can educate organizations about what is truly required to undertake quality management initiatives. What skill sets, body of knowledge, and experience must a person possess to successfully lead an organization down the road of quality management? When looking at skill sets, it is advisable to look at both hard- and soft-skill requirements because many transformation exercises require extensive change management.

What can organizations do?

If you’re looking for a candidate or trying to fill a position, perhaps a recruiter can help. However, if you’re looking for a sustainable solution, don’t expect the order-taker to provide guidance. Instead, look to the professionals who have hands-on experience to provide direction.

Focus your requirements on solving your problem rather than on what resources are needed. Allow companies to propose a solution to your problems and not just supply bodies that you can use to complete a set of activities.

Become well-versed in quality management. Understand the various methodologies that are used, what each method offers, and the value of one method over another. The differences in methods may be slight and boil down to semantics or marketing, so it is always wise to ask about the true differences.

Understand the value of the proposition. The lowest-cost proposition may not be the option that solves your organizational challenges. In many cases, the lowest-cost option can be the most costly option over the long haul. I once heard this described as, “We built a car out of the cheapest parts and ended up with a lemon for the price of a Porsche.”

Let recruitment firms provide the service they were intended to provide

Recruitment firms or headhunters provide an outsourcing option for organizations looking to staff a particular position. However, they have been directly competing with solution providers in a wide array of industries. Recruitment firms do not have the infrastructure, objectives, or mandates to support a competitive position against companies providing quality management solutions. Most recruitment firms do not provide ongoing training and do not invest in making the delivery of quality management solutions more efficient or effective.

Recruitment firms focus on recruitment—that is their business. They do not specialize in providing quality management solutions.

Closing thoughts

The job requirements I discussed at the beginning of this column, which asked for no minimum level of certification, are a recruiter’s dream come true because they can provide the cheapest, lowest-value, least-qualified resources in response. In this way, recruiters are making a mockery of the quality management profession. Furthermore, they are providing a solution to a problem they have no experience in correcting.

As a quality management professional, what do you think? Do recruitment firms hinder or assist in the achievement of process excellence?


About The Author

Kyle Toppazzini’s picture

Kyle Toppazzini

Kyle Toppazzini is the president of Toppazzini and Lee Consulting, and an international leader and consultant in lean Six Sigma. He is a certified balanced scorecard trainer and a lean Six Sigma Black Belt. He works with C-level executives to assist in developing and implementing process improvement strategies and transformations that result in faster, better, and more cost-effective delivery of services and products. Toppazzini’s Lean Six Sigma Challenge has appeared in more than 200 outlets, including Yahoo News, Business Week, The Wall Street Journal, The Boston Globe, and The Miami Herald. Contact him at Kyle.Toppazzini@TLeeCorp.com or tel. (613) 680–4333, ext. 2.


band-aid problem

I am still a sophmore of Six Sigma and will be entering my "online" training for the blackbelt this winter.  However with the years of employment and have had to use lean, lean six sigma etc, has given me alot of advantages into just assisting in my employers QMS.

We started a new project on site - which is now ended after a year because of such issues you mentioned in this article.  There was such chaos going on and production was literally kicking quality to the curb and winning.  After a certain incident that received the FAA's attention, all of quality top to bottom was called into conference to gather information. The top and middle layers did the finger pointing at others while we, lowers, pretty much stated that we had in both production and quality managment too many chiefs with "fake" war feathers.   As we lower level gave example after example, the outsourced HR group knew we had seen the band-aid problem.  At the end of the meeting, I asked what will the employer do about this?    This was 3 months ago and we still haven't heard any feedback.

What's truly sad is, when I worked for this same company 5 years ago on its new multi-nation made project, they shifted top & middle managers who were on their "last leg" it made the program so awful and stressful to deal with, band-aid after band-aid.  I was told by a directing manger,"it doesn't matter how bad the business plan is or how awful the qms is constantly getting the hit, as long as we're producing the product, we can sell alone on name brand."



Four Hour, on-line courses

I have a CQE and an MS in Quality Engineering Management. I can take a 4 hour course and sift what I need from it and make it useful. Not all recruiter's candidates are equal.  Many other candidates are as qualified and I am or more so. A Six Sigma practitioner in Health Care cannot be expected to 'hit-the-ground-running' in the automotive industry. They may know the methodology but not necessarily when to apply it. There are a boat load of statistical tools to choose from. Just look at the DeMystifying set of books for a beginning.

I do agree that some recruiting firms may try for the 'quick fix' fit but none of the ones that ever worked with over the past 30 years fit that image. All of the recruiting firms that I have used or dealt with spent effort to ensure that I was a good fit for the position. I can recall only one time where I was drawn into a tasking where I had no expertise. I told the managers about it at the beginning. I said that I had only related experience but that I would learn fast. He and she were pleased that I was honest and gave me the shot. I am autodidactic and it was a good fit.

Deming did warn us about 'Instant Pudding' in one of his lists. It is true. But not all recruiting firms are equal just like not all humans are equal. There are some who are in the upper 3 sigma.


Thanks Pat you make good points.