Different belts of Six Sigma: Striving for perfection

Six Sigma can be defined as a suite of tools and processes aimed at quality management of projects. Motorola had introduced it in the year 1986 and later Jack Welch of General Electric made it’s a core element of business management in 1995.  This process today is widely used in every industry vertical.

Though many are well-acquainted with the term “Six Sigma Certification”, there are people who are not aware of Six Sigma belts and the difference that each one holds. However, before getting into the characteristic traits of each, it is crucial to understand what does the term “Belt” means? Simply put, Six Sigma belts usually refer to the position or the level of an individual in a company during the project implementation phase. There are many individuals who participate in a project in order to fulfil business objectives and to ensure that there are no defects. These “Belts” indicate the expertise level of a project professional and outlines his deliverables. In every company there are business leaders that lead the Six Sigma process during the project sponsoring phase. They are called the “Champions”.  Their core responsibility is to select the projects. In order to attain these goals with complete precision the “Champions” choose as well as mentor the project leaders, who are termed as “Belts”.

Let us now discuss that Six Sigma offers. They are:

  • Yellow belt certification
  • Green belt certification
  • Black belt certification
  • Master black belt certification

Yellow Belt Certification – A Six Sigma Yellow Belt is generally accountable for developing the process maps to assist to track project progress.  They take part in projects as a core team member or as SME’s (Subject Matter Expert). Yellow Belts are also accountable for operating small or basic process improvement projects making use of the PCDA (Plan, Do, Check and Act) technique. PCDA is usually referred to as a Deming Wheel that allows Yellow Belts to recognize processes that might benefit from enhancement activities. These small projects are later forwarded to Black Belts or Green Belts where the DMAIC method is used for increasing cost saving through a Statistical Process Control.

Green Belt Certification – The role of Six Sigma Green Belt differs for different companies. In most cases Green Belts are guided to use the DMAIC method and a specified tool kit, inclusive of the basic statistics.  For using other advanced statistics, Green Belts would require the guidance of a Black Belt trainer or coach. Green Belts need to schedule daily meetings with Black Belt coaches for assessing and renewing the project progress and seek suggestions as and when required. Green Belts should know how to create a Pareto diagram and histogram as well as understand their difference. Furthermore, they should also be able to demonstrate a Kano Diagram and the way it can relate to consumers. In some companies Green Belts are also expected to estimate the standard and mean deviation of process data sets and the long term and short term Sigma value of the project.

Black Belt Certification – Often termed as the “Change Agents”, Black Belts are in a leadership position. They function as full-time project team leaders and are accountable for deploying process improvement projects using the DMAIC (Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve and Control) or the DFSS (Design for Six Sigma) techniques.  Black Belts have the complete know-how on change management and guide the subject matter experts to maximize the customer satisfaction levels along with business productivity. Black Belts usually undergo 4 weeks of training under which they have to appear for an examination and master the project completion techniques. The Black Belts further coach Green Belts and in turn gets trained from the Master Black Belts. The gradual progression of a Black Belt is towards a Master Black Belt.

Master Black Belt Certification – A Six Sigma Master Black Belt is able to communicate with TRIZ concepts and language. They can also recognize unresolved projects and problems that need a design solution. They are able to collect and assess the voice of the customer to outline their stated and unstated needs. In addition to that, Master Black Belts are able to incorporate DFLSS method into the current development process, choose apt product design process and change these processes depending on the input variability and desired results.

Therefore, undertaking Six Sigma courses will equip you with project management skills and help you progress from the basic Yellow Belt to the Master Black Belt Certification.

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Shweta Dey