DMAIC, DMAVD, DFSS or any other Six Sigma framework is a disciplined data-driven structured methodology that if implemented as required will yield breakthrough levels of improvement in organizations.

Having applied Six Sigma and other process methodologies across multiple SBUs at our organization one aspect that is not given much attention in many formal Six Sigma training courses is the role that a Belt’s soft skills play in the success or failure of a project.

Whether we know it or not most of us spend a good deal of our working lives interacting with others (i.e., formally through meetings, calls, presentations, emails etc or informally though conversations, discussions even the odd chat down the corridor).

Thus how effectively we interact with our peers could dictate how successful we are in convincing them to accept our point of view. I have found this tends to be the norm, be it Six Sigma project or be it asking for a favor from a close friend.

A limitation that I find in many Six Sigma training courses is the lack of emphasis and attention to developing a Belt’s soft skills. In fact to be a successful process expert requires you be an effective communicator, negotiator, project manager, team leader, mentor and coach all in one. Developing these skills can significantly help a Black Belt successfully implement Six Sigma or any process methodology across the company hierarchy.

In nurturing prospective Green Belts and Black Belts, I use a “10 point soft skills matrix” to evaluate the soft skills competency of a Belt prior to engaging in a Six Sigma project.

A rating scale is used with scores ranging from 1-4, depending on the varying strengths in a particular competency. The soft skills competency of any prospective process expert can be evaluated using this matrix and necessary levels of training could be customized as required.

The 10 points along with the relevant rating criteria is shown in Figure (1).

The total score for all ten categories and the score for an individual set of skills are computed. As per the reported scores, appropriate training is provided to the required individuals in conjunction with Six Sigma Black Belt and Green Belt training.

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