Black Belts not 100% dedicated – can it work?

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    I’m currently embroiled in a debate in my organisation about BBs not being 100% – say 70% to 80% dedicated, and the rest of their time doing additional “day to day” tasks due to organisational constraints. My viewpoint is that BBs must be 100% dedicated at least till they are certified – it just doesn’t work otherwise.
    Is anyone aware of circumstances (or an approach) in which BBs can be successful when they are not 100% dedicated. If not, why not. Thanks 



    If you are getting 3.5 to 4 days a week focused time, stop complaining and get on with the work.
    Of course it can and will work.



    We have the same debate going at my company. 
    We are successful with “Lean Coaches” not being 100% dedicated.  Lean coaches come from all areas of the company, and they actually help to spread lean more quickly throughout the organization.  They coach on average 4 lean events (Kaizen) a year, otherwise they do “day” jobs as accountants, engineers, pm’s, managers, etc.



    I agree it will work fine – if the d2d work doesn’t take over.  That would be my only concern.  Just like what we see with processes, we get too busy fighting fires to make significant strides in process improvements.  I would measure it and report it – just like any other driver.


    Mr IAM

    I think it depends on where your are in your SS implementation.  If your early into your SS launch then I don’t think part time SSBB will work.  The day to day  – “must be done now” activities will always soak up the time and the long-term process improvement work will sit.  It is human nature to want to work on short-term, immediate satisfaction sorts of tasks and projects… we will put-off working on longer term projects…it’s human nature.
    If your most of the way into your SS implementation then I don’t think this is a big issue… unless your having change management or commitment issues.
    Cheers! M.


    Mike Carnell

    I would conditionally agree that it can work. The question is will it work?
    If they give you the 3.5-4 days per week it will work (assuming they can do the job). The issue is and always has been is that when you have to make a choice between the day to day firefight and the project which way do you go. Typically theuy go to day to day. Why? First it is a comfort zone. It is the job they have always done, they believe thay know how to do it and typically the companies reward system is built around that behavior. The project is driving change and that is always uncomfortable – not desireable and if it is also unrewarded why do it.
    Simply writing this down and expecting it to work would be a mistake. You need to look at how you are rewarding people. What type of people you have selected to be belts (see the Blog by Gary Cone on the Predictive Index – PI). How do you measure their work otherwise in the words of Jerry Jeff Walker you are p__sing in the wind.
    Just my opinion.
    Good luck



    Remember the Ford Edge story … 10,000 dedicated black belts couldn’t make it work … and they had to call in outside help.



    Hi All,
    In my company we follow a two tire system, i.e. there are a set of people (one aligned to each BB) who are either GB certified or are aspiring BB.
    In a scenario where BB is pre occupied with day to day activity, a call is taken as to what can be deligated to the 2nd tire of SS people (it can either be the day to day activity or the project) and both the tires are completely in sync with the project and other activity as they will be part of all discussion related to project and other wise.
    I think it has worked for us very well, there is no sitaution where a project is delayed because BB is busy with his day to day activities.


    Charles H.

    Glad to hear that the part time BB is working in some places.  In my own experience, I have yet to see it work well.  The reasons stated by Mike C. or spot on.  The rewards and performance review system seem to drive the disconnects.  Functional management tends to use the “what have you done for me lately” criteria when doing the performance reviews, and continual improvement, especially in areas outside their functional control.  They don’t get noticed nor appreciated. 
    I haven’t seen the dotted line / matrix organizational structures work very well, either.  The functionl organization always takes control and suboptimizes the time of the BBs.  I tend to note a creep affect where the BB may be 75% dedicated to BB work at the onset, then they start slipping to more and more of their time on the day to day issues.  In the end, it’s hard to get 25% of their time on continuous improvement work.
    On the flip side, 100% dedicated BBs have the issue of being a group of elite types, especially when they are all co-located in their BB war rooms and offices.  What I have found that works best is a dedicated BB, assigned to a specific area and located where the work is, reporting to the CI manager, working as an internal consultant to the functional manager.  When time comes for the performance review (see Deming for my thoughts on reviews), the CI manager does the review with major input from the functional management types.
    Just my 2 cents worth.



    The thought put by Mike and Charles are to the point.
    The issues you have highlighted is a typical problem faced by many deployment heads in any organization, where they are planning to deply and sustain six-sigma culture. Moreover no answer is right or wrong.  The decision you take will depend on the following things:

    What is the current phase of your deployment? If you are in the process of initiation of six-sigma, then you can hand pick few BBs and allocate them on a fulltime basis, so that success satories are assured.
    If  your organization has already initiated and made six-sigma a success, the decision to have a fulltime or part time BB wil l depend on the cost-benefit equation. Typically a BB is allocated and then a project is selected. In stead, identify the projects in each area with the dept. head and allocate the BB based on the savings or need for that area.
     I have seen both the situation work. In organizations, which are matured, six-sigma culture is ingrained to the bottom level and hence part-time BB makes sense, because they may not have that much chronic issues. A full-time BB will make sense, if you have already identified the list of issues to be focussed and those are impacting your organization bottomline.



    It can work, but
    – you need to track time spent on projects well & insure it stays at the desired level
    – it requires discipline from leaders and Black Belts – I’ve seen 50 % time Green Belts be much more effective than 100 % Black belts – with discipline & leadership support.


    6Sigma Newbie

    I work in an organisation with strong 6 sigma culture. We have a “fulltime BB” positions where the incumbent works on 6sigma 100% of his time which has been highly successful for us..We also have  ppl , like me for example, who are BBs but work abt 50% of the time  on 6 sigma projects (Roughly 2 projects and 1 kaizen a year)

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