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Six Sigma Belts: Roles & Responsibilities

Within the Six Sigma methodology there are various "Six Sigma Belts" and other key roles that have specific responsibilities.

Each Six Sigma belt represents a different level of expertise in the field of Six Sigma. In addition to "belts" there are also other necessary and complimentary roles:

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Six Sigma Belts & Other Roles

  • Six Sigma Master Black Belt
  • Six Sigma Black Belt
  • Six Sigma Green Belt
  • Six Sigma Yellow Belt
  • Champion/Sponsors
  • Stakeholders
  • Subject Matter Experts (SME’s)

Six Sigma Master Black Belts

The Master Black Belt (MBB) is the most seasoned, educated and capable of all Six Sigma experts. Typically the Master Black Belt has minimally managed dozens of Black Belt level projects.

An MBB can coordinate several Six Sigma Belt projects simultaneously and mentor & certify Black Belt and Green Belt candidates.

The Master Black Belt commonly works with high level operations directors, senior executives and business managers to help with assessing & planning strategic business objectives.

It's common for a Master Black Belt to advise management on the needs or cost of poor quality of an operation and consult on methods & approached to addressing problems.

  • Typical Responsibilities for an MBB
    • Identify & define the portfolio of projects required to support a business strategy
    • Set Scope, Goals, Timelines & Milestones
    • Assign & marshal resources
    • Train & Mentor Green Belts & Black Belts
    • Facilitate Tollgates or check points for "belt" candidates
    • Report-out/update stakeholders & executives
    • Establish an organizations Six Sigma strategy/roadmap
    • Lead the implementation of Six Sigma

Six Sigma Black Belts

Among the Six Sigma Belts, the Black Belt (BB) is probably the most active and valuable. He or She is an experienced and well trained Six Sigma professional. The BB is well rounded in terms of project management, statistical analysis, financial analysis, meeting facilitation, prioritization and a whole host of other value added capabilities which make a Black Belt highly sought after in the business world

The typical Black Belt has lead several projects, coached and mentored various Green Belts and understands how to define a problem in order to quickly drive towards a solution.

Depending on the company or organization they serve, Black Belts can be dedicated support resources and/or professionals who continue in their line management role while achieving BB certification.

  • Typical Responsibilities for a Six Sigma Black Belt
    • Project Management
      • Define the project, scope, team etc.
      • Marshall resources
      • Set goals, timelines & milestones
      • Report-out/update stakeholders & executives
    • Task Management
      • Establish the team’s Lean Sigma Roadmap
      • Lead the implementation of Lean Sigma Tools
      • Manage team meetings (Facilitation)
      • Project Management of the team’s work
      • Track and report team progress
    • Team Management
      • Select/adjust team membership
      • Establish team norms (ground rules)
      • Counsel team members
      • Coach other Six Sigma Belts
      • Manage the team’s organizational interfaces
      • Ensure the team are trained & equipped for their work

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Six Sigma Green Belts

The Green Belt (GB) is trained in a less intense version of Six Sigma than the Black Belt. A Green will get all of the comprehensive elements of Six Sigma with a little less emphasis on the statistical aspect as well as a few other advanced techniques such as Design of Experiment.

A Green Belt has nearly identical responsibilities as a Black Belt when it comes to projects but you might typically find Green Belts working on less complex challenges or problems that are not as dynamic as a Black Belt project.

Unlike the Black Belt, you generally won't find dedicated Green Belt practitioners in any organization. Most Green Belts retain the positions they had prior to being trained in Six Sigma and use the new skills to improve their working environment and performance.

  • Typical Responsibilities for a Six Sigma Green Belt
    • Project Management
      • Define the project, scope, team etc.
      • Marshall resources
      • Set goals, timelines & milestones
      • Report-out/update stakeholders & executives
    • Task Management
      • Establish the team’s Lean Sigma Roadmap
      • Lead the implementation of Lean Sigma Tools
      • Manage team meetings (Facilitation)
      • Project Management of the team’s work
      • Track and report team progress
    • Team Management
      • Select/adjust team membership
      • Establish team norms (ground rules)
      • Counsel team members
      • Manage the team’s organizational interfaces
      • Ensure the team are trained & equipped for their work

Six Sigma Yellow/White Belts

The Yellow or White Belt terminology among other Six Sigma Belts is often used interchangeably to refer to someone who has been trained in Six Sigma in such a way that they will understand at a higher level what it's all about. They will also understand what other Six Sigma Belts (GB, BB, MBB) are doing and saying when they discuss aspects of a projects etc.

It is common to find that Yellow or White Belt training targets supervisors, managers, directors and sometimes executives.

Responsibilities of a Yellow/White Belt are very different than a Green Belt or Black Belt but are often very similar and sometimes exactly like Champions or Stakeholders.

Some organizations choose to prepare this level of associate with Champions training and others might call it Yellow Belt. Regardless, you'll find that Yellow/White Belt responsibilities are similar to Champions as well as Stakeholders.

  • Typical Responsibilities for a Yellow/White Belt
    • Strategic Oversight
    • Determine strategic direction of project
    • Define requirements for success
    • Resolve resource issues for the team
    • Conduct periodic progress reviews
    • Assist in solution implementation
    • Assist in team selection
    • Communicate with Black Belt

Champions & Sponsors

Like the Yellow or White Belt, champions or sponsors are those people (directors, executives, managers etc.) who are chartering, funding or driving the projects that Black Belt & Green Belts are conducting.

It is just as important for them to understand the methodology, process and dynamics of Six Sigma as it is for a Black Belt.

Champions or Sponsors have critical roles in the successful deployment of Six Sigma regardless of scale. Champions have responsibilities like the ones previously listed for Yellow/White Belts..

  • Typical Responsibilities for a Champion or Sponsor
    • Strategic Oversight
    • Determine strategic direction of project
    • Define requirements for success
    • Resolve resource issues for the team
    • Conduct periodic progress reviews
    • Assist in solution implementation
    • Assist in team selection
    • Communicate with Black Belt

Stakeholders

Stakeholders are usually the recipients or beneficiary's of the work of Six Sigma Belts. Most BB's and GB's need to keep strong working relationships with Stakeholders because without their support, they can make it extremely difficult to succeed.

Stakeholders are usually those individuals that own the process, function or line that a Six Sigma Belt is focused on delivering solutions for.

Subject Matter Experts (SME's)

SME's are usually those high professionals that are found within the process or function and are widely known to be the experts of the process or subject matter.

Six Sigma Belts who are wise and understand their challenges will commonly look to key SME's to round out their working project team.

SME's are critical to the success of a project. They can hurt your chances of success by simply not speaking up because they have the experience to know what things work and what things won't.

A word of warning however, SME's are also the same people who like to keep the status quo and you might find many of them unwilling to help you implement changes.

Six Sigma Belts Summary

Throughout this module we have reviewed the various roles & responsibilities common in any Six Sigma program. Listed one more time they are as follows:

  • Six Sigma Master Black Belt
  • Six Sigma Black Belt
  • Six Sigma Green Belt
  • Six Sigma Yellow Belt
  • Champion/Sponsors
  • Stakeholders
  • Subject Matter Experts (SME’s)

These Six Sigma belts and other roles are designed to deliver value to the business effectively and successfully. If you're interested in becoming a Black Belt or Green Belt, the information needed to achieve a Six Sigma certification is provided throughout the pages of this website. All of it is presented online and free for you to browse. If you choose to take it with you, you can obtain complete .ppt or .pdf versions branded or unbranded by checking out the right column offerings from any page. Enjoy!

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