Among the challenges that face Black Belts and Green Belts today is the ability to frame the project into a clearly understood action plan. One tool that I have enjoyed success with in meeting this challenge is to use the GRPI model for framing the project.

The GRPI model is broken down as follows: 

G oals 
R oles 
P rocess(es) 
I nterpersonal


The Goals section for framing a project establishes the core mission of the team. This generally takes the form of performance objectives and comes from the project goals outlined in the Define phase of the project. Like any good objective, the goal(s) should be specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and timely (SMART).

An example of a good Goal statement for a project is:

“We will increase customer utilization of the interactive voice response (IVR) technology by increasing the present rate from 22 percent on average per month to 44 percent on average per month as reported on the daily call volume report. This change must take place before the end of the 4th quarter of 2001.”

Note the SMART elements in this statement:

Specific – The project aims to increase customer utilization of the IVR technology.
Measurable – The target and how to realize measure it.
Attainable – Should be reasonable and within the ability of the team.
Relevant – Increasing the utilization of this technology will improve customer satisfaction and reduce call center staffing needs. Both of these enhancements directly affect the bottom line of the organization.
Timely – A deadline for the project exists and owned by all team members.


The Roles section allocates the work in terms of responsibility and high-level task process. It should build directly from the stated goal(s) by answering the following questions:

  • Which team members fill what specific roles?
  • Which team members complete what specific processes?

In addition, the roles statement should demonstrate shared leadership and responsibility for completing the project.

An example of an abbreviated Roles statement for a project is:

  • Charlie Brown – Call Center Operations Director and Project Champion. Serves as ‘barrier buster’ when technical, political and cultural issues arise during the implementation of the project. Mr. Brown is directly responsible to senior management for the successful completion of the project.
  • Mickey Mouse – Call Center Manager and Key Decision Maker. Mr. Mouse controls the budget for expenditures and approves allocation of technological and human resources.
  • Donald Duck – Black Belt Project Leader. Advises Mr. Mouse on decisions and shares in the decision-making responsibility. Mr. Duck has final responsibility to Mr. Brown in ensuring that the project completion in a timely fashion through application of the DMAIC (Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, Control) model of Six Sigma.
  • Elmer Fudd – Green Belt. Helps Mr. Duck with Six Sigma technology application and manages all facets of data collection. Mr. Fudd helps in developing statistical analysis of data and in completing graphical analysis tools for reporting this data. Mr. Fudd is also responsible for assisting in Mr. Duck in assuring that the project follows the DMAIC model.
  • Mack Truck – Customer Service Representative. Mr. Truck serves as the subject matter expert to the team. He also helps select other CSRs to take part in data collection, piloting, etc. Mr. Truck is the first line of communication to the call center floor concerning the project.


The Process section of the GRPI model outlines the important project team tasks such as:

  • Decision making
  • Conflict management
  • Problem solving
  • Communication

This section builds on the information already presented by linking how the various team members will interact in completing key project tasks like those outlined above. An example of a statement concerning decision making is:

Decision making will be as consensual as possible with all team members participating. The Black Belt will employ various techniques to ensure that this consensual nature is achieved 100 percent of the time. When the consensual method fails to achieve a decision, the project Champion will have sole decision-making authority.


The Interpersonal section of the GRPI model outlines the final and perhaps most important component of the team – relationships and individual styles. The goals of this section are to ensure:

  • Candor and trust in communications and relationships
  • Flexibility when dealing with other team members
  • Sensitivity when dealing with other team members
  • Creativity when dealing with other team members
  • The team environment facilitates the review of team processes (relating to one another, communication, conflict handling, etc.) so that the overall way the team works is improved.

A sample of this section is:

We value the following critical interpersonal aspects of working as a team:

  • Candor is encouraged and rewarded
  • Flexibility is maintained towards the needs and opinions of others
  • Sensitivity in dealing with all team members
  • Team members role model professional behavior
  • Creativity in defining solutions to issues that arise


This model is not new nor is it top-secret in terms of a good way to frame a project and the team that supports it. Following the model should provide the Black Belt or Green Belt with a method for ensuring the following:

  • Goals are clear and team members own them
  • Roles are defined so that the work is organized in a way that leads to accomplishing the goal(s) of the project
  • The resources assigned to the project are maximized
  • Everyone understands their responsibilities and jobs
  • Leadership is shared
  • Decisions are based on data and the best expertise available and not on hierarchy or authority
  • Conflict constructively moves the project forward to completion. Remember that conflict is often the beginning of the creative process.
  • Trust and candor are valued and lead to open communications and relationships.
  • Team processes and the impact they have on team members and others within the organization are always a priority.
  • Critical components like flexibility, sensitivity and creativity are encouraged.

I hope that you will find this process beneficial in framing your projects and getting through the bumpy roads of leadership that challenge all of us as change agents.

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