A Black Belt curriculum cannot, by any stretch, be considered to possess the same level of tool mastery as, say, statisticians or quality engineers (CQE). In true self-fulfilling manner, the more certain professionals try to circumscribe the Black Belt role with the notion of tool mastery, the more they form the notion that Black Belts are not much different from statisticians or certified quality engineers. In reality, these same people should focus their energy on articulating why Black Belts are not like statisticians or CQEs – specifically that a) there is no singular definition of what a Black Belt is or does, as this varies from corporation to corporation, and b) all projects lead by Black Belts are different and, therefore, require the use of different tools.
Thus, we see why a corporation should first deploy six sigma from the global level and then implement it at the local level, not the other way around. Interestingly, a fixed curriculum will not achieve this aim. Instead, it will indirectly cause the roll out of six sigma (and Black Belt curriculum design) to become implementation focused, not deployment focused. In turn, this sets up a condition in which implementation plans are “deployed” in the absence of higher order goals and objectives. Whenever a localized six sigma implementation plan is founded on predetermined methods and tools, in lieu of specific project circumstances and selection criteria, it is likely that the resulting program of study cannot be efficiently, effectively, or immediately absorbed into that particular deployment cell without extensive modification.
Interestingly, most of the existing six sigma curricula today (of a standardized nature) are quite tool centric in structure, versus idea centric by nature – as evidenced by the preponderance of quality tools, statistical methods, and other types of problem solving procedures that characterize these tool-oriented curricula. In this vein, we should recognize that business leaders are focused on global strategies and measurements, while operational leaders are focused on tactics and systems, and while process leaders (Black Belts, for instance) are focused on the application of problem-solving tools and methods to certain quality issues and processing difficulties. Since all three levels have a mitigating impact on each other, as well as the collective whole, it would seem that there should be more emphasis placed on the unifying ideas, aims, and concepts related to six sigma in terms of how a curriculum is designed and developed.
Only the local customers of six sigma, coupled with a highly seasoned Black Belt or master Black Belt, can create the most effective and efficient training plan for defining six sigma roles; determining the purpose, nature and content of curriculum; augmenting that curriculum with a specific content configuration; engineering the methods, techniques, and timing by which it is delivered; and ascertaining the extent to which it should be reinforced. These are local decisions, not global decisions, and only in this manner can a corporation be global yet local. When this perspective of the customer is taken, the implications for curriculum design are quite profound, because we are primarily focused on the needs of the business, and only secondarily focused on the needs of the individuals or end users.