Black Belt: Job or Role?

Benchmarking results consistently identify examples of Six Sigma success. Even so, getting “naysayers” on board is a continuous challenge. What do you tell them?

Nayism 21: If a Black Belt likes what he or she does, why rotate them back into the organization? Why not let Black Belt positions be permanent positions instead of just roles?

Most companies keep Black Belts in a full time role for 18 to 30 months and then repatriate them into the organization. Should some Black Belts be allowed to stay as ‘career’ black belts? Here’s what I say . . .

The purpose of having a full time Black Belt is so that they can dedicate 100% of their time to learning new skills and fixing problems in the organization. During the 18 to 30 month assignment, they develop expert Six Sigma skills. Rotating people through the Black Belt role (or the Master Black Belt role) and then returning them to the organization in a leadership role, creates a leadership environment where Six Sigma can flourish. (i.e., the leader really gets it).

The downside of having a career black belt position is that over time, the organization will begin to perceive Black Belt work and Six Sigma as “someone’s” job, not “everyone’s” job. Instead of Six Sigma becoming the way the organization works, it becomes the work for Black Belts. The constant rotation of people through the Black Belt role sends a clear message that the role is intended to build future leaders with expert Six Sigma knowledge and skill that can then lead the organization to excellence through Six Sigma.

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Having a great Black Belt is a real asset to the organization. Having a great leader with Black Belt skills is even better!

Comments 2

  1. rickmaher

    Very good point!

    My employer is in the very beginning stages of six sigma / lean implementation. In fact, the idea of six sigma being "someones" job is rampant and one of the toughest challenges we have faced thus far. Especially because we do not have any black belts at our location, in fact only one greenbelt and two specialists working towards their greenbelts.

    We have attempted to chase this idea out by constantly assuring employees on the front line that they are empowered to raise and tackle six sigma issues which they see, and by driving the importance of ownership to managers and leaders.

  2. Learner

    Hello Experts,

    Sorry if my comment is not posted into the right blog title.

    Actually, I wanted to know what is the role of a Six Sigma Black Belt in a company where everyone does improvements in their own way and the Top Management is happy with anyone bringing in any kind of bottomline results and profits.

    I have been struggling to understand my role here, as when I come up with improvement areas and ideas, process owners take it up in their own way and do not follow the "DMAIC" methodology but the results are achieved though with automations (MFG company). They are directly entertained by the Top Mgt as they only want results.

    I feel that I am here also but at the same time not also. It is difficult to see a culture here. Please advice what to do.


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