Six Sigma is a quality methodology that can produce significant benefit to businesses and organizations. Not much text, however, has been written about the structure needed to successfully implement Six Sigma quality within your business or organization. This article will focus on roles and responsibilities, as well as required rewards and recognition for a successful Six Sigma quality program.

Roles and Responsibilities

Quality Leader/Manager (QL/QM) – The quality leader’s responsibility is to represent the needs of the customer and to improve the operational effectiveness of the organization. The Quality function is typically separated from the manufacturing or transactional processing functions in order to maintain impartiality. The quality manager sits on the CEO/President’s staff, and has equal authority to all other direct reports.

Master Black Belt (MBB) – Master Black Belts are typically assigned to a specific area or function of a business or organization. It may be a functional area such as human resources or legal, or process specific area such as billing or tube rolling. MBBs work with the owners of the process to ensure that quality objectives and targets are set, plans are determined, progress is tracked, and education is provided. In the best Six Sigma organizations, process owners and MBBs work very closely and share information daily.

Process Owner (PO) – Process owners are exactly as the name sounds – they are the responsible individuals for a specific process. For instance, in the legal department there is usually one person in charge – maybe the VP of Legal – that’s the process owner. There may be a chief marketing officer for your business – that’s the process owner for marketing. Depending on the size of your business and core activities, you may have process owners at lower levels of your organizational structure. If you are a credit card company with processes around billing, accounts receivable, audit, billing fraud, etc., you wouldn’t just have the process owner be the chief financial officer, you would want to go much deeper into the organization where the work is being accomplished and you can make a big difference.

Black Belt (BB) – Black Belts are the heart and soul of the Six Sigma quality initiative. Their main purpose is to lead quality projects and work full time until they are complete. Black Belts can typically complete four to six projects per year with savings of approximately $230,000 per project. Black Belts also coach Green Belts on their projects, and while coaching may seem innocuous, it can require a significant amount of time and energy.

Green Belt (GB) – Green Belts are employees trained in Six Sigma who spend a portion of their time completing projects, but maintain their regular work role and responsibilities. Depending on their workload, they can spend anywhere from 10 percent to 50 percent of their time on their project(s). As your Six Sigma quality program evolves, employees will begin to include the Six Sigma methodology in their daily activities and it will no longer become a percentage of their time – it will be the way their work is accomplished 100% of the time.

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