Whether you are a process owner, Master Black Belt or Champion, you will at some point need to interview candidates for an open Black Belt position. Or, you may be a Green Belt or quality engineer with aspirations of someday working full-time as a Six Sigma Black Belt. What should you look for in a Black Belt candidate or how should you develop yourself for a Black Belt position? This article will address these questions.
Six Sigma Black Belts are most often referred to as change agents, and there is no doubt that the Black Belt role is a leadership position within an organization (please note that I intentionally did not say “within the quality department or Six Sigma organization”). Black Belts are full-time Six Sigma project team leaders responsible for implementing process improvement projects (DMAIC [Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, Control] or DFSS [Design for Six Sigma]) within the business. Black Belts are knowledgeable and highly skilled in the use of the Six Sigma methodologies and tools, as well as facilitation and change management, and lead subject matter experts to increase customer satisfaction levels and business productivity.
Black Belts have typically completed four weeks of Six Sigma training, and have demonstrated mastery of the subject matter through the completion of project(s) and an exam. Black Belts coach Green Belts and receive coaching and support from Master Black Belts. It is generally expected that a Black Belt will move into a Master Black Belt or significant business role after the Black Belt assignment is completed in 18 months to three years.
So, what should you look for in your next Black Belt? Here is my personal top ten list. You will notice that I bulletized the list instead of numbering it. This was done on purpose, as a numbered list usually indicates that one point might be more valuable than another. In this case, all ten qualities are considered essential and should have equal weighting.
Qualities that Did Not Make the Top Ten (But Are Important)
Those of you who frequent the iSixSigma discussion forum have probably run across a post or two from a colorful Green Belt named Billybob. His anecdotes about possums and Six Sigma are found to be entertaining, at least by some of the other readers :). Below are Billybob’s (slightly modified) thoughts on the top ten qualities of a successful Black Belt, which are based on his personal experiences with his own Black Belt.
1. Tuckman, B.W. “Developmental Sequence in Small Groups,” Psychological Bulletin, Vol. 63, 1965, pp. 384-399.