Don’t Exile Your Black Belt

Nayism 42: Why does every department have to have their own Black Belt? Let’s just pick some people to be Black Belts, give them a job title, put them in a separate department and be done with it.

Sound like a good idea? Here’s what I say. . .

One of the most important aspects in allowing Six Sigma to become engrained in an organization is that each and every employee must feel like they are responsible for continuous improvement. When Black Belts report to a separate department, improving processes maybe viewed as “their” job instead of everybody’s job. This may cause employees to feel less responsibility or ownership for improving their processes. Keeping Black Belts aligned with and reporting into the line organization sends a clear message that their role is a part of how their department operates.

So, don’t exile your Black Belt to the quality department abyss. Welcome them as part of your department’s team and you may find that the only things that get banished are defects and problems.

Comments 2

  1. Michael Cyger

    Agreed, as usual with your nayisms Gianna. Plus, when they report into a department or process owner, it’s that person and her/his team that are working hard to meet the promised deliverables for the company. Having the resources report directly into her/him just makes more business sense. When a roadblock is encountered, the BB has a direct line into the process owner and can more quickly get it taken down to keep the project moving.

  2. Mike Carnell

    This is as dangerous Blog since it has been placed in the context of an absolute truth. I have deployments that do it both ways and have seen it succeed both ways. The success or failure of a BB is not where they report but is having them report to the correct spot based on the management/culture of the organization.

    If I place a BB reporting to a funtional manager and that manager has no vision of a future state and only sees the BB as an extra pair of hands – I can, and have, found a BB filling in for the receptionist that called in sick. This is the wrong control point for a BB.

    If we place BB’s in a central organization, fund it centrally and appove projects through a central committee that is made up of the senior managers then we have created resources that are available to the functional managers. Project selection is based on which Process Owner presents the best bussiness case for a project. The incentive is for a centrally funded resource essentially available to anyone willing to select an important project and investing the time and effort define it well.

    For us GB’s are always locally controlled but mentored by a BB regarless of where the BB reports to. It will remain the link that keeps a BB involved locally regardless where they report.

    Considering that there will never be an exact copy of one organization culture placing things as an absolute is dangerous advice to give to people trying to launch a deployment.

    Just my opinion.

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