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    My organization is currently several months into implementing a six sigma initiative.  We are now beginning our planning for the training and use of green belts.  I would appreciate hearing about others learnings regarding:
    What do you do to assure that you receive a return on your training investment with green belts?  Must they complete a certain number of projects?  With a specific expectation regarding returns?  If yes, what are those expectations?
    Do you narrow the range of projects they can lead? If yes, how so?
    How many green belts can a black belt support at one time?
    Any other thoughts are welcome.  Thanks, Mary



    The role and responsibility of Green Belts varies considerably from company to company.  In our case, a Green Belt gets two weeks of training, and leads a project.  In other cases, Green Belts get as little as three days of training, and simply serves as a Team Member.  So, as we learn in Six Sigma, “it depends”.
    Our Green Belts actually brought in about 2/3 of the $150 million we saved in three years.  Usually, they run transactional projects, but we have had some good manufacturing projects out of our Green Belts.
    Our Master Black Belts manage the program, and provide technical assistance to Black and Green Belts.  We often have 50 or more Belts that we are responsible for.  On the other hand, International Truck and Engine keeps a 5:1 ratio, and they have a better project completion percentage than we do.
    Hope that helps… drop me an email at [email protected] if you like.
    Denton Bramwell
    Sr. Master Black Belt


    muhannad al nabulsi

    I have practical experience of  a comprehensive “re-engineering”program,It was sponsored by a famous french consultant,I’m ready to send you some “vital’guidelines if you want,regards.                                    MN


    Jaran S.

    What do you do to assure that you receive a return on your training investment with green belts? 
    — Good coaching form BB or MBB will help.
    Must they complete a certain number of projects? 
    —GB should complete at least 1 project (more are prefered) to gain some experience in Six Sigma.
     With a specific expectation regarding returns? 
    If yes, what are those expectations?
    —-Yes. But it is up to your organization. I suggest :
    Expectation of GB = Expectation of BB * % of training time comparing to BB * % of the time spending on Six Sigma.
    Do you narrow the range of projects they can lead? If yes, how so?
    How many green belts can a black belt support at one time?
    — I perfer about 1 : 5
    More comment : Quality of first or second wave GB traning are usually not perfect or even bad because the experience of internal MBB or BB who are not fully mature in Six Sigma. Then expectation from the training should be adjusted as appropriate.
    Jaran S.


    Dr. Shree Nanguneri

    Hi Mary:First of all congratulations on your training of green belts in the roadmap to success in six sigma. Primarily your green belts are the critical mass that your organization would depend on in order to make the change happen. Putting a project cap on their efforts is only a good idea as far as cerification is concerned. If you just stick with certification, it will not accomplish what th eoriginal intention of six sigma to create a behavioral change. Thus one has to be careful in putting a number on the projects although it seems to be a good way to go. Making sure that they can apply the tools in daily work habits and change the culture to one that creates alignment in the company is the key. Sometimes you may be able to accomplish this in one project and at other it might be more than 3.
    Yes Black Belts while having the total by in from the champions and senior management can actually manage more than 10 Green Belts depending on the extent of project effort and probability of success. Thus each black belt must be able to manage what their strategic plans dictates. It varies from function to function. In most cases Balck Belts end up taking several responsibilities as they are seen as leaders who can stretch and motivate others with the passion of six sigma after having gone through it themselves. Good luck. Hope all of your questions are answered. In order to assure that the ROI is true, one has to do several things. Get the metrics in order and validate with the finance people using a standard benefits tool kit across the company. Especially in these days try staying away from projects thatare volume dependent and take the big hits with fixed costs. This would avoid the disaster of someone saying that I could have had the savings had I had the volume of sales. Mostly common sense applied in uncommon ways. Integrating the HR function along with finance is the key to any ROI at any level whether Black Belt or Green Belt. Good luck and if you need further assistance, please contact me.


    Jenny Thompson

    The following has worked well for us:
    1) Lead one project participate on two
    2) GB projects are ususally around $50,000 mark
    3) Can choose any project you want as long as your buisness sponser and your direct supervisors support the project
    4) SHould be a project that can be compoleted in 2-3 months.These are just a few suggestions. We also found it very helpful to have the GB candidates come to training with their project to help them understand exactly how it applies to them. Hope this helps, jen


    Mike Carnell

    The only way you ever get a quantifiable return on your training dollar is to do something with whatever was taught (this does not have to be restricted to SS projects – you can make your entire Training department a profit center and run them on a P&L like any other business investment. It would stop the drive by training we do and quickly pull the plug on, when times get tough. It changes it from an expense to an investment.) GB should do training projects the same as BB’s do. They typically do them in a natural team setting and are not full time. Most companies require 1-2 projects after graduation. The idea is that you should already have a team initiative in progress and the GB’s augment it.
    We typically try to hit about 30% of the population as GB’s. It is a number used by HR types to get a culture shift.
    AS far as how many a BB can support that varies from BB to BB. There are some BB who have no business supporting anyone. There are others who are so good at facilitation you are better off making their primary position support. Like anything else you will have a distribution of skills and it is rarely an even distribution. You are better off fitting people to what they do best rather than trying to create a universal requirement. This will typically drive everyone to mediocrity.
    Check out the stuff on the “Break all the Rules” stuff. A lttle counter culture.


    Jim Johnson

    Mary, the following is what we are doing:
    Each Green Belt candidate comes to class with a high-level problem statement that has been approved by their direct manager.  This becomes their certifying project.  They use this problem throughout the class and afterwards (90 days) to complete a project.  The return on the project must be at least 50,000 (USD).  During the class, a Black Belt is assigned to mentor the Green Belt through the first project and to certify that they have demonstrated adequate application of the tools to work on issues with minimal supervision by a Black Belt. 
    Green Belts are not full-time positions, they stay within their departments and continue to work on projects assigned by their managers or that they come up with and are then “blessed” by their managers.
    I hope that this helps.  If you have further questions, you can reach me directly at jjohns2[email protected] .
    Jim Johnson



    We usually say that everybody can be a Greenbelt, but only those who demonstrated ability on Six Sigma tools can be certified GreenBelts. We expect that Greenbelts are experts who are part of our team since the begining of a project. They have to be part of at least two Black Belt projects or lead one GB project and join a BB project. While working in a GB project, a BB will be responsible to coordinate and validate the methodology usage during the project. To be certified as a GreenBelt, a Black Belt has to ensure that the GB has concluded a Six Sigma training and a Green Belt training. The business has the role to identify and validate GB participation and certify him/her.
    Finally, your company can link career opportunities to Six Sigma expertise (such as GreenBelts certification/ Black Belts certification).
    I hope I could help you. In case of further info. need, just send me an e-mail:[email protected]


    Charlie Pfaff

    Your return on investment should not be a problem unless you are paying through the nose. Our green belts are doing two projects a year saving the company  10 times what is cost the company each year.
    We had a goal of $175000 per project, but found many good projects with a potential savings of just $50000. As you complete projects it will become harder to find  higher projected cost savings projects
    Some say 1 black belt can mentor 7 green belts at one time. I would start with 4 -1.  It also depends on what you expect of the black belt.


    Kevin Alderson

    Hi Mary,
    To answer some of your questions, regarding return on investment, this can be measured in monies which all understand, also can be measured for ‘culture change’ and increase in a higher trained workforce.
    one project is usually enough, for beyond that their approach to day to problems should be that of the 6s approach.
    Returns initially are high but as projects progress and more GB are trained the ‘low hanging fruit’ dissapear and true 6s programs emerge.
    Projects tend to driven by what is needed by your company at the present time, do you require more efficiency or zero defects or new business? The number of green belts a BB can support is more down to the complexity of project selection, sorry can’t be more specific but if projects are ‘easy’ then probable ten.


    john beaudoin

    Our location in the company started 6-Sigma training in 1999.  We have about 180 employees.  The corporation sent a Manager who had 6-Sigma placed under his domain to our facility and provided a 1 day 6-Sigma training class to all of our management and supervisory staff.  As part of the business plan, we sent one manager to Greenbelt training.  They were chosen for their strong ability to implement change and aptitude for getting things done.  In going to training for the 1st time, we required the reading of 2 books, Lean Thinking and KBM.  We also required that the candidate had a project in mind that the individual had familiarity with, a vested interest in completing, and would get a savings of $50,000 or more.  I was the 2nd person sent, and chosen because of my engineering background and position in Inventory Conrol where I had exposure to a lot of different areas of the business.  Our 1st projects completed saved a total of $200,000.  We did not have any Blackbelt at our facility, but did receive some support from our training instructors, and some support at the corporate level through e-mails and on-line meetings.  We now have 35 Greenbelts and 1 Blackbelt.  It is ideal to have Greenbelts complete 2 projects, but we have found that there is a critical element we missed in choosing candidates.  We allowed almost everyone that was interested in 6-Sigma, and wanted to be associated with 6-Sigma to attend the Greenbelt training.  However, many candidates found that once they were trained, did not learn from the training or did not have the technical apptitude to procede.  Also, like many of the other companies, these individuals had their regular jobs to perform and 6-Sigma was an add-on.  As a result, 6-Sigma was put asside, many individuals did not complete a single project within the 1st year.  Many projects that were allowed to start, and were hung onto by Greenbelts for too long because of the time invested in them were eventually canceled too late in the process.  On a positive note, we have had a lot of success with some of our better candidates and are on track to save $2.6 million this year with the projects our Greenbelts are completing.
    In going forward, I would suggest to you the following:
    1) Choose your Greenbelt Candidates carefully.  I recommend the following criterea:  Choose individuals with an engineering/math/or some other logic orientated background.  These candidates will have a better chance of success, and will provide you individuals to advance to the Blackbelt level at a later date.  Choose people that have the ability to give presentations and are effective communicators.  Not only will these people be good at training others, but they will be successful in communicating their ideas and getting management support for their projects, which is crucial.  Last, choose individuals that will have the time available to devote 20% of their time to 6-Sigma.  If the individuals regular workload is too large, 6-Sigma will take a back seat to the day-to-day grind, and the training dollars will not be recouped as quickly.
    2) Have the entire workforce attend a 4 hour seminar (we did this in house) on what 6-Sigma is all about and how it will improve the organization.  This serves as a good motivator to get the workplace behind the initiative.  These employees will also be your source to collect data and act as team members.
    3) Select projects for training that support your business goals, have the backing of management, and the individual has a level of interest in.  The projects need to be smaller of scale, doable in a maximum of 6 months, but still save a minimum of $25,000/year.  Remember, the 1st project is for training purposes.  Too complex a project to start with and it will demoralize the individual being trained and probably will not be completed.
    4) Once someone is trained, 6-Sigma initiatives should always be a part of that persons individual performance goals.  We use 20%.  For 6-Sigma to have some level of importance to the individual, this is crucial.  You also want to maintain a stream of additional projects after each completion.
    5) If you have different departments within your organization, you will want to train individuals from your largest departments and later try to have a Greenbelt in each area of your business.  It will make it easier to tackle cross department and cross company projects at a later date.
    Note:  You need the complete support of your management and leadership positions.  You will fail without it.  Also, beware of projects that require a lot of IS resources, as this can cause large delays in getting projects implemented.  I’m not trying to say to avoid them completely, but they are not good projects for training.
    Also, as a side note, we have now created a small Business Integration department (4 people) with project managers and engineers.  We are doing our own projects as well as supporting the projects of the other Greenbelts.  This facilitates communication and prevents duplication of work.  We also provide technical support and help with driving the projects to completion.  This department was not started until a year after the initial training.  Also note that 2 of the 4 in the department are the 1st trained Greenbelts from the facility.


    Ray Abi

    My recent client went thru similar experience. A blackbelt can support 6-12 greenbelts depending on projects. The best return on training is to make sure that the trained people are working on a project with very high level of expected success. In-house training is the best training method if you have atleast six people to train.

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