Six Sigma black belts are most effective in full-time process improvement positions. The term black belt is borrowed from the martial arts, where the black belt is the expert who coaches and trains others as well as demonstrates a mastery of the art. In a similar way, six sigma black belts are individuals who have studied and demonstrated skill in the implementation of the principles, practices, and techniques of six sigma for maximum cost reduction and profit improvement. Black belts typically demonstrate their skills through significant financial improvement and customer benefits on multiple projects. Black belts may be utilized as team leaders responsible for measuring, analyzing, improving, and controlling key processes that influence customer satisfaction and/or productivity growth.
Black belts may also operate as internal consultants, working with a number of teams at once. They may also be utilized as instructors for problem solving and statistics classes. Black belts are encouraged to mentor green belt and black belt candidates. Potential black belts often undertake four weeks of instruction over a three or four-month period. Specific elements will differ, but all stress an understanding of variation reduction, training, and project management. Black belts often receive coaching from a master black belt to guide them through projects.
Black belts have the following duties in their company:
Mentor: Have a network of six sigma individuals in the company
Teacher: Train local personnel
Coach: Provide support to personnel on local projects
Identifier: Discover opportunities for improvement
influencer: Be an advocate of six sigma tools and strategy
Master Black Belts:
Six Sigma master black belts are typically in full-time process improvement positions. They are, first and foremost, teachers who mentor black belts and review their projects. Selection criteria for master black belts include both quantitative skills and the ability to teach and mentor. For master black belt recognition, an individual must be an active black belt who continues to demonstrate skill through significant positive -financial impact and customer benefits on projects. The ability to teach and mentor is evaluated by reviewing the number and caliber of people they have developed. Teaching may also be demonstrated in classroom environments.
Six Sigma Green Belts are not usually in a full-time process improvement positions. The term green belt is also borrowed from the martial arts, referring to an individual who has mastered the basic skills but has less experience than black belts. Green belts must demonstrate proficiency with statistical tools by using them for positive financial impact and customer benefits. Individuals may remain green belts or, with experience, they may become black belts. Green belts operate under the supervision and guidance of a black belt or master black belt.
Executive sponsorship is a key element in an effective black belt program Executive leadership sets the direction and priorities for the organization. The executive team is comprised of the leaders that will communicate, lead, and direct the company’s overall objectives towards successful and profitable six sigma deployment. Executives typically receive training that includes a six sigma program overview, examples of successful deployment and strategies, and tools and methods for definition, measurement, analysis, improvement, and control.
Champions and Process Owners
Six Sigma champions are typically upper-level managers that control and allocate resources to promote process improvements and black belt development. Champions are trained in the core concepts of six sigma and deployment strategies used by their organization. Six Sigma champions lead the implementation of the six sigma program. Champions also work with black belts to ensure that senior management is aware of the status of six sigma deployment. Champions ensure that resources are available for training and project completion.
Key processes should have a process owner. A process owner coordinates process improvement activities and monitors progress on a regular basis. Process owners work with black belts to improve the processes for which they are responsible. Process owners should have basic training in the core statistical tools but will typically only gain proﬁciency with those techniques used to improve their individual processes. In some organizations, process owners may be six sigma champions.