Why Mentoring is Key to Attaining a Master Black Belt

Juran Blog

Much of Eastern philosophy is depicted in the mist-drenched trees and cloud-shrouded mountains of ancient Chinese landscape painting. It is mysterious, half glimpsed, but endlessly fascinating; it invites questions and reflection in equal measure.

Like the art, many Eastern ideas of social philosophy require contemplation in order for meaning and relevance to be revealed. In one reference to ren, a typically elusive quality which one should cultivate, Confucius is reported to have declared: “A man with ren, desiring to establish himself, helps others establish themselves; desiring to succeed himself, helps others to succeed.” (Analects 12.2; 6.28)

We might take that as a conceptual guide for a ruler, or a parent, and certainly a mentor. For mentoring is teaching and learning for both mentor and student.

Notwithstanding the philosophical value, the personal rewards of mentoring and having a mentor as a Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt are rather more transparent.

Essential purpose

Mentors add value to learning through their experience, their knowledge, and encouraging questioning and reflection. You can consult their wisdom to resolve problems or fill gaps in your own knowledge. Whether you take their advice—and you don’t have to by any means—you can at least consider it and reflect on the challenges you face.

Not found in books

This is knowledge you cannot find via Google. Every mentor has a store of personal experiences, ideas, and learning that they will share. We’re not talking about an afternoon conversation, but the distilled essence of a lifetime, poured out on demand.

Improve your chances

While learning from the best is an obvious way to seek success, learning at all is what counts. It’s all too easy to disregard or shrug off failures, for example, without due reflection and consequent learning. Equally, as Toyota’s leaders believed, to think you have no problems is itself a problem. There is always room for improvement, and mentors are always ready to keep you focussed on being the best you can be.

The power of listening

The reassurance of a powerful listener by your side through difficulty can unstick problems, or simply give you the confidence to succeed. You will also learn how to listen to yourself and others as you develop, which breeds confidence and trust in your leadership.

See with your eyes and with theirs

It is a principle of Lean that to understand a process you must go and see it in action. Consider Genchi Genbutsu, a key principle of the Toyota Production System, which translates literally as ‘real location, real thing’. But there’s no doubt that having made your observations, another pair of eyes can help you to interpret what you’ve seen. The additional perspective that mentors bring is invaluable to any situation.

Leap ahead

Time spent with a mentor whose experience and skills may be different to your own can lead to time-saving inspiration. You will not only advance quicker than those who don’t have the benefit of mentoring, but you may find yourself able to make leaps in problem solving, conceptually and practically.

Make stronger connections

Mentors are in general well-connected people. Theirs is an outgoing, supportive, and encouraging nature which draw people to them. Being interested in people they want the best for others and will readily introduce you to other sources of advice, assistance, or advancement.

Meet your mentor

Juran’s belief in the value of mentoring is enshrined in its training programs for LSS Master Black Belt. Our approach is entirely centered on transferring knowledge to create real capacity for change in your business.

More like a university tutorial than online learning, we pair you with an experienced mentor and give you a bank of time to use as you need. Combined with peer group discussion and oral project reviews, our approach ensures that the skills are not only learned but tested, and the knowledge and facility to use it stretched.

Please get in touch or visit our dedicated program page to learn more about our Master Black Belt training course. 

Author: Juran

For the past 75 years, Juran has been an industry leader in performance excellence. We are your on-demand team of trainers, coaches, and expert consultants. Built upon the philosophies laid out by Dr. Juran, the father of quality, we put you on the fast track to results by designing improvement initiatives that actually work. We aim to help all organizations achieve the highest quality of products, people, and processes, and we understand the importance of transferring our knowledge to your team to guarantee the success of your program in the future.