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Black Belt – Which Type of People

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  • #30343

    Marz
    Participant

    I have 2 questions I am looking for feedback on –
    1.  Do Engineers make the best Black Belt candidates, or do other functions also produce good Black Belt candidates?  What are those other functions (i.e. Accounting, etc)
    2.  Is it better to have someone trained as a Black Belt who is not from a particular process that you are looking to improve, or is it better to have that Black Belt candidate come from that process area?
    Please provide your input.  Thanks

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    #78915

    Hill
    Member

    I am a certified Black belt and have worked for a Global and Small Company in that capacity. During my training I came across alot of different types of people and many of them have gone onto be certified. I think the bottom line is you need someone who is a self starter, motivated and capable. I have seen Good and bad Blackbelts from IT Engineering HR and Finance – it takes allsorts.Someone said to me once that “if you would miss them in your team they would probably make a good Black belt” I think that is quite true.
    As we all know it is a lot of hard work and the trainng does make your brain ache, but at the same time that you need someone who can absorb all the techniques and knowledge that same person needs to deal with people, change issues and management.

    A blackbelt is an all-rounder, from any field!

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    #78919

    Derin
    Participant

    We have found that the best black belts come from many different disciplines.  Finance is excellent because they can see the financial implications of any process improvements.  Quality is excellent beacause they are already applying a majority of the Six Sigma Principles.  Operations is also a good choice becasue they often have a better understanding of the problems and obstacles being experienced on the floor (at least in a manufacturing environment).
    I would have to say that the most important aspect is having a very outgoing personality, a people person, self-motivated and confident.  I have found that the majority of people from any discipline can learn the basic principles and statistics.  In addition anything that they ae not familiar with can be answered by the MBB. 
    My first selection criteria would be a strong education and major work accomplishments and promotions.  During the interviewing procvess I would look more at their personality.  Can they break through barriers?  Are they a leader?  Are they respected?  I would say that the most difficult part of Six Sigma is obtaining ‘buy-in’.  Unless the BB can obtain full ‘buy-in’ from those involved the project will not move along or will fall apart when it is left up to the department to continur the process. 
    One other thing I have found useful is to make sure that BB come from different background so that they can share their diverse view during Six Sigma meetings.  If all are from one discipline, they can often get very narrow sighted.

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    #78920

    Ben Royal
    Participant

    1. Aside from engineering I have seen productive black belts from quality, fianance, and sales. The candidate’s personality seems to be a key. Most are “people” oriented, all seem to listen more than they speak, all are respected by most people in the organization.
    2. A black belt with knowledge in the process area would be an advantage. There is an awful lot to be said for experience.

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    #78932

    Perryman
    Participant

    Kevin,
    You’ve had excellent advise from the replys to your post.  Bottom line – you can’t pigeon hole a good BB into a particular vocation.  Rather, it is a skill set that you are looking for that virually transcends all high performers regardless of their current position. 
    I recommend you concentrate on behaviours and competency profiles in your search.
    Good luck,
    Patch 

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    #78933

    Perryman
    Participant

    Kevin,
    Sorry, I forgot to answer your second question.
    I’ve always worked on projects where I knew very little about the process at the outset.  The project team is where the expertise should be.  This has been a successful formula for me for 2 reasons:
    1. I have been able to question things the experts no longer see or take for granted. 
    2. Being the “methodology expert”, I can lead them through the project wherever the process area.
    Cheers,
    Patch

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    #78940

    Cannizzo
    Participant

    Hi Kevin,
    1. I believe that anyone who is quantitatively oriented makes the best black belts. The people need to enjoy data as the crux of six sigma is based on data. Engineers tend to work well with data, but so do accountants and many other people in various functional areas.
    2. It’s a toss up and subject to your organizational culture. I like people who are highly motivated and enter new areas of the business, because they aren’t afraid to challenge the status quo and can look at processes with a new light. There are many organizations, however, that view outsiders as such and will not open up and allow they to be productive and effect change. You best can assess your organization and the leadership within that organization.
    Good luck!
    –Carol

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    #78944

    Martínez
    Participant

    In my view a good Black Belt must possess both Hard Skills as well as Soft Skills. If I was to make a choice between a BB with excellent soft skills and the other with excellent hard skills (tools/techniques/software), I will select the one with SOFT skills. In my own personal experience more effective practitioners and implementors of six sigma methodologies have been people who could get the buy-in from other team members as well as other process owners where they were working on improvement projects. I have also experienced that BBs who develop high level of knowledge about tools and techniques tend to become more arrogant and start losing out on their ability to get buy-in from others.
    It does not matter which department these people come from! Looking at the discussion thread it is clear that most of these people will be super stars in their respective function/department and that explains why it is so difficult to get them away from their respective functions and get them full time into six sigma.

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    #78951

    john beaudoin
    Participant

    You have received a lot of good answers.  People skills is a common thread.  The role you want for blackbelts in your organization may be different from the role of BB’s in other organizations, so you will have to tailor the core competancies to the role.  Most companies expect the following criteria:
    1) Needs to have thorough knowledge of all of the Six-Sigma statistical tools.  To choose someone that can obtain this knowledge and keep it, a candidate should be good with math, algebra for understanding, and like playing with spreadsheets, data, and formulas.  Candidate should be able to work with Statistical Software such as MiniTab or some Excel add-on such as SPC-XL, or other software.
    2) Blackbelts usually are responsible for mentoring Greenbelts.  As a result, the candidate should have the ability to work with others, be encouraging, have patience, and good communication skills to pass on knowledge.
    3) Blackbelts often coordinate the larger projects that go outside the company or go between separate business units inside a company.  These large projects require some project management skills and again, more communication skills.
    4) Some of your Blackbelts may be required to advance their training level to Master Blackbelt.  Your company will get tired of spending money on high-priced consultants and you will want to train your own Greenbelts and Blackbelts.  You will want to choose individuals that would be up to this task.
    5) Presentation skills are good.  Most of these guys will be presenting data, analysis, and solutions to upper management, Finance, etc. to muster up the required support to implement changes.
    Some companies want all of their management to be blackbelted.  If these individuals understand the communication skills and project coordinating, but are not math/statistics gurus, you will be fine.  But keep in mind that these individuals will not be doing all of the analysis work, you will have to have others capable of that, whether they are greenbelts, engineering dept. types, etc.  Not every company is organized identically in this regard, so with that in mind, figure out the roles and then make a list of the things they will be expected to perform.

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