The rock band, Queen, celebrated Champions with these lyrics; “We are the champions…. my friends….And we’ll keep on fighting ’til the end….We are the champions….We are the champions….No time for losers….’Cause we are the champions….Of the world.”  Lean Six Sigma also has its Champions. Let’s learn more about them.

Role of the Champion

While Lean Six Sigma (LSS) Champions are not a normal part of the LSS belt hierarchy, their role is critical to the success of your LSS deployment. The Champion is the individual in your organization who translates the mission, vision, and values into an LSS deployment strategy which supports the strategic goals of the organization.  They do this by identifying improvement opportunities, chartering projects, identifying, and managing internal resources, and removing roadblocks to successful deployment of LSS.

Champions play a pivotal role in your organization’s LSS initiative. They serve as mentors to project teams and act as a bridge between Black Belts (BB), Master Black Belts MBB), and your organization’s leadership. Without competent Champions, your deployment can become entangled with internal obstacles, become misaligned with your core business objectives, lose focus and track of time, and may not yield the benefits or improvements you expect.

Champions are typically members of the executive or leadership team who sponsor projects and mentor teams working on those projects. They need to be respected and have influence in the organization. To be effective, champions must be trained in the essentials of the LSS methodology, especially DMAIC and Lean. Champions don’t need to be the technical expert in LSS tools and techniques, but they do need to have proficient skills in facilitation, collaboration and conflict resolution.

How can you get trained and certified?

As is the case with all LSS belt levels, there is no industry standard for Champion training and certification. What you learn and how long it takes is a function of who you select as your training and certification provider. You might be able to be trained and certified within your own organization if you are doing an LSS deployment. You may also receive training and certification from external consultants, professional organizations, and educational institutions.

Training can be delivered in a classroom format or virtual, as instructor-led or self-paced. It can take 6 hours up to 2 days. Of course, the content you learn, and the cost will be commensurate with the length of time and reputation of the provider.

For example, one consulting company offers a two-day classroom training for Champions and covers the following topics:

  • Introduction to Lean Six Sigma
  • Tactics and advantages involving Lean Six Sigma
  • How to begin with Lean Six Sigma
  • Project definition for Lean Six Sigma
  • Lean Six Sigma Example Projects
  • Process involving project selection
  • Lean Six Sigma Distribution and how to choose Black Belts
  • Development of metrics with Lean Six Sigma Projects
  • Recognition of Lean Six Sigma
  • Learning what Lean Six Sigma is all about
  • Incorporation of Six Sigma and Lean methods
  • Fundamental tools of Lean Six Sigma
  • Systems of Measurement
  • Capability Study
  • How to apply Lean Six Sigma to Business Processes
  • Keeping track and the management of Lean Six Sigma Projects
  • Handling alterations within the Lean Six Sigma Process
  • Monetary Strategies for Lean Six Sigma Projects

A professional organization provides a 6-hour classroom course covering the following topics:

  • Introduction to Lean Six Sigma
  • Performance Measures
  • Required Resources
  • Project Identification
  • Critical Implementation Decisions
  • Lessons Learned
  • Project Selection
  • Project Review Guidelines
  • Deployment Planning

Another consultant offers a three session, 19-hour online course with this content:

SESSION 1: Introduction to Lean Six Sigma

Highlights: 5 Lean Principles, 8 Forms of Waste, Lean Six Sigma Framework, DMAIC — The Improvement Process

SESSION 2: The Champion Role

Highlights: Source of Value: Gemba, Process Mapping (SIPOC), Project Charter Toolset, Stakeholder Analysis (RACI Matrix), Project Tollgate Review Toolset

SESSION 3: Leading Team

Highlights: Leadership Characteristics, Improving Team Development, 4 Conversations Toolset, Leader Standard Work

FAQs: Lean Six Sigma Champion training and certification

Do I have to be an expert in Lean Six Sigma to be a good Champion?

No. Lean Six Sigma expertise in tools and methodology will be with your Black Belts and Master Black Belts. As the Champion, you need to have an understanding of the LSS methodology, but your primary role is to support, manage and help lead the deployment rather than be the subject matter expert (SME) in LSS.

Is the role of Champion a full-time job?

The Champion is usually selected from the senior leadership of the organization. Depending on whether you are implementing LSS organization-wide or just chartering a few improvement teams will dictate whether your role is full-time or part-time.

How long is Lean Six Sigma Champion training?

If you do an Internet search you will Champion training ranging from 6 hours to 19 hours or even two days. The length of time will depend on the specific training provider and whether it is a classroom format or virtual online. Certification typically consists of passing an exam to demonstrate your level of understanding.

In summary

A Lean Six Sigma Champion is a critical role to assure a successful deployment of your LSS effort. The Champion plays several important roles in leading improvement teams to the successful completion of their projects. Their responsibilities will include:

  • Mentoring and coaching LSS teams, Black Belts, and Master Black Belts
  • Removing organizational barriers
  • Ensuring projects are aligned with the organization’s strategic goals
  • Maintaining team and organizational focus
  • Ensuring timely completion of projects

The Champion will support the LSS deployment by providing needs such as:

  • Supporting resources
  • Inter-organization communications
  • Project management skills
  • Development of organizational metrics
  • LSS training needs
  • Help drive the organizational transformation
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