Top 10 Cons & Disadvantages: Six Sigma Certification

Over the years, Six Sigma has been hailed as a solution to operational inefficiencies, leading many organizations to adopt its principles. With its data-driven methodology, Six Sigma focuses on eliminating defects and ensuring process improvements. However, like all methodologies, it comes with its fair share of drawbacks.

Many experts argue that while it offers numerous benefits, there are also considerable disadvantages that companies should be wary of before fully embracing Six Sigma.

Top 10 Cons or Disadvantages of Using Six Sigma Certification

Though Six Sigma has helped many organizations streamline their processes and increase profitability, it is essential to analyze its potential pitfalls. A thorough understanding will enable companies to make an informed decision on its implementation. Embarking on a Six Sigma journey? Here are the top ten challenges and disadvantages you may encounter:

1. Costly and Time-consuming Training

One cannot overlook the considerable investment that Six Sigma demands. Gaining certification, especially at the higher belts, is not just a matter of expense but also of time. From registration fees to course materials, from dedicated trainers to potential travel expenses, the financial aspects can pile up. Moreover, it isn’t just about money; it’s about the hours, days, and sometimes even months that employees invest in the training. The prolonged nature of this training means a substantial amount of time away from regular work. This could translate into a potential decrease in immediate productivity as employees juggle between their day-to-day tasks and training commitments. For businesses, especially startups or SMEs with limited resources, this trade-off can be substantial.

2. Overemphasis on Quantitative Methods

While data is crucial, an organization isn’t run by numbers alone. Six Sigma’s heavy leaning toward quantitative methods can sometimes overshadow qualitative factors. For instance, while a process might be efficient numerically, it could be taking a toll on employee morale. Or, while defect rates might decrease, customer satisfaction might not necessarily increase proportionally. Businesses need to remember that not all beneficial aspects can be quantified.

3. Resistance to Change

Change, while inevitable, is rarely embraced immediately. As Six Sigma introduces significant modifications to existing processes, it’s natural for employees, especially veterans, to resist. This resistance isn’t just about nostalgia or stubbornness; it’s about fear of the unknown, concerns about adaptability, and worries about potential redundancies. This friction, if not managed correctly, can lead to decreased morale, lack of faith in the system, and even active pushback against Six Sigma initiatives.

4. Not Suitable for Every Business

Six Sigma isn’t a universal remedy. While it might work wonders for a manufacturing unit aiming to reduce defects, it might not offer the same value for a creative agency or a niche startup. The methodology, in its essence, is designed for specific industries and business sizes. Forcing it onto an incompatible business model might not only be ineffective but potentially detrimental.

5. Potential for Over-complication

Six Sigma, with its layered processes and heavy reliance on data, can sometimes convert straightforward problems into complex challenges. The methodologies can, on occasion, lead teams down rabbit holes, focusing on micro-issues while missing the bigger picture. Instead of simplifying processes, it could add layers of unnecessary complications, causing frustration and delays.

6. Dependence on Trained Personnel

A Six Sigma initiative is only as good as the people implementing it. The methodology’s success leans heavily on having trained and certified personnel on board. Without them, any attempts at implementing Six Sigma can become directionless. Companies might find themselves in situations where they’ve invested in training, only to see these trained professionals move on, leaving a knowledge void behind.

7. Possible Negative Impact on Creativity

Innovation thrives in environments that allow flexibility and organic flow. The rigid structure of Six Sigma, while excellent for efficiency, might stifle the creative process. Employees might become wary of thinking outside the box, fearing it might not align with Six Sigma’s stringent standards. Over time, this could lead to a culture where conformity is prized over innovation.

8. Risk of Misuse

The tools and methodologies of Six Sigma are potent, but like all tools, they can be misused. Companies might focus excessively on defect elimination, ignoring opportunities for innovation or expansion. Or, they might misinterpret data, leading to wrong decisions. An incorrect or half-baked implementation of Six Sigma can do more harm than not implementing it at all.

9. Slow to Adapt

In today’s dynamic business environment, agility is crucial. Six Sigma, being a methodical and structured approach, might not always be quick to adapt to sudden market shifts or unexpected challenges. Companies solely relying on it might find themselves lagging, especially when rapid decision-making is required.

10. Might Not Deliver Expected ROI

Promises of significant improvements and high ROI are some of the main attractions of Six Sigma. However, not every company sees these promised returns. Whether due to incorrect implementation, mismatch with the business model, or unrealistic expectations, the potential disappointment of not achieving the desired ROI can be a significant setback for many businesses.

What is Six Sigma Certification?

Six Sigma Certification is a validation of an individual’s ability to identify defects, errors, or any inconsistencies in business processes and eliminate them. Obtained through training and passing a set examination, this certification is offered in various belts, including Yellow, Green, Black, and Master Black. Each belt signifies a different level of expertise and knowledge in Six Sigma methodologies.


While Six Sigma offers a structured approach to improving processes and eliminating defects, it’s not a one-size-fits-all solution. Companies need to weigh the pros and cons, considering their unique requirements, before committing.

It’s essential to understand that while Six Sigma can provide tools and methods for improvement, its success largely depends on its correct implementation and the organization’s commitment to continuous improvement.


Daniel Raymond

Daniel Raymond, a project manager with over 20 years of experience, is the former CEO of a successful software company called Websystems. With a strong background in managing complex projects, he applied his expertise to develop and, innovative project management tools designed to streamline processes and improve productivity. Throughout his career, Daniel has consistently demonstrated a commitment to excellence and a passion for empowering teams to achieve their goals.

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