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How to Correctly Identify a Black Belt Project

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  • #54034

    David
    Member

    I have been doing some research to try and find out what type of project constitutes being a black belt project. All I have managed to find are some generic statements along the lines of “must be complex” and “spread across multiple areas”. This is a little vague for my liking and I would like to know whether there is a ‘standard’ requirements list out there that explains what the criteria is for a six sigma black belt project. Any assistance would be greatly appreciated

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    #193056

    Chris Seider
    Participant

    @terminator1
    A better stated question might be: What makes a Lean Six Sigma project?
    I don’t make a distinction between Green vs Black Belt projects based on size of projected savings–I’ve seen GB nominated projects can be larger than BB nominated projects even in the same process or facility.

    A good answer to what makes a LSS project a good one might be: “If a problem exists, can it be quantified and measured.” Not all LSS projects will have financial benefits that immediately impact the bottom line BUT good LSS projects can succinctly state the amount of pain the business is enduring because they can measure the problem.

    Often, BB projects typically involve multiple process steps for their scoped problem and GB projects typically involve fixing one process step’s defect or problem.

    Most organizations also create very focused projects for GB’s since they are working part time on the continuous improvement efforts. Successful LSS deployments and cultures use full time resources and label them as BB’s and MBB’s. No, I’m not saying the label of “Black Belt” is a requirement–I’m just making the distinction between GB and BB in organizations that use that structure.

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    #193065

    marcy troy
    Guest

    Hi David — At my previous employer, we followed the following:

    High-leverage products where the return justifies the investment in time and resource, and where the need for improvement is substantial. Should be consistent with the primary business measures, is used in conjunction with a “project desirability matrix” to help prioritize the list of potential projects. Some data to narrow project focus might be COPQ, defect counts and non-value added time.

    However, you often don’t know what you don’t know until you get into the muck. I know a woman who’s been working on a Green Belt project for over 2 years. She can’t close it, but she wants the cert so she won’t drive a stake through it. Now that’s NVA!

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    #193067

    Chris Seider
    Participant

    @matr
    Sounds like either an unfocused project or something that’s not aligned with the burning platform issues for the company. I’d advise her to shut the project down….I doubt the champion is even aware it was launched. :)

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    #193072

    cfb
    Guest

    There is plenty on the subject…search along the line of “project assessment and selection for lean six sigma” and you should find what you need. Be especially dilligent if the potential project is to be assigned for certification vs standard project execution…your selection criteria might need to be tweaked/altered as a result. Good luck.

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    #193078

    MBBinWI
    Participant

    @terminator1 – Any six sigma project being done by a Black Belt is a six sigma black belt project. Now, if the belt and supervisor/champion agreed on the scope and project duration, then you have a GOOD SS BB project.

    What’s the difference between a GB and BB project? That’s more challenging, but generally would entail estimating how long a GB or BB would take to satisfactorily finish the project given their skill set. Generally if it will take longer than 3 months for the GB then it is more likely a BB project. If it would take the BB more than 3 months, it’s probably too big. MBB project typically have several BB projects embedded, and sometimes they may be sequential, so time criteria are not as useful for that.

    Of course, that’s just my opinion.

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    #193081

    Chris Seider
    Participant

    To my colleague, @MBBinWI

    Loved your first paragraph. I dislike length of project time helping define whether a project is a GB or BB. What would that say about those MBB’s out there that can go into a client and solve a defect that has lasted years but solve it in less than 2 weeks (including data capture of a non automated process).

    As you acknowledged, it’s tough to define a good criteria of GB vs BB.

    Oh, by the way….I forgot to tell you a while ago that I saw another colleague out there who called himself Senior MBB. I just smiled internally and said to myself, well maybe his gray (silver) hair is showing more than mine?

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    #193086

    MBBinWI
    Participant

    @cseider – or maybe has a child who’s an MBB? If that’s the criteria, since I’m the third in line with the same name, perhaps that makes me MBB 3rd degree?

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    #193090

    Mike Carnell
    Participant

    @terminator1 The whole mystery around what is a Six Sigma project was started way back in the 90’s because there were a lot of consultants who wanted to get paid to roll in and identify projects for people and of course get paid to do it. There is nothing special about what you are going to apply the DMAIC methodology to. It makes the most sense to apply it to some piece of work that needs to be done that is aligned with corporate/company objectives and nobody knows the answer to the issue. That might be ideal but you will rarely find a project where there is nobody who knows the answer or at least thinks they know the answer. It doesn’t matter. It simply becomes another hypothesis test.

    Don’t get yourself wrapped around the axel on this issue. If you are new at this (since you are researching project selection I assume you are) just get started doing projects. You will learn more about project selection by doing projects than by doing research. Most of the people handing out advice on project selection don’t know much more than you do – MBBinWI and Mr. Seider would be excluded in that – they actually know what they are talking about.

    Just my opinion.

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    #193099

    gomezadams
    Guest

    I asked around and around on “WHO” set the timing for an Opex/Six Sigma/LSS project. A unnamed resource finally conveyed it may have been in one of Harringtons books. He conveyed that 4 months was the goal.

    Hell, that was probably set years ago when there was low hanging fruit everywhere!

    With successful Opex/Six Sigma/LSS organizations in place for 20 years,that low hanging fruit gets gobbled and dissapears quickly.

    Now , a project takes as long as it takes for a single practicioner.
    As mentioned in another post,we are seeing more of a smear within a project
    requiring DMAIC & DMADV & LSS activities to resolve the original issue.

    If they want it quickly,assign more resources!

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    #193102

    Thomas Whitney
    Guest

    Let me give my two cents.
    When I was first assigned as what is now titled a BB, so many years ago when the Great Lakes were not polluted, it meant something very specific. It meant that I was to be taken out of the daily firefighting frenzy most poorly performing processes possess and was to spend all my time in a systematic study of what were the sources of variation seen in the most business important output measurement Y. We used yield and then waste and throughput as counter measures. If we got these to “six Sigma” the money would come was the philosophy.

    I did not have a project per-say at the start of my journey, but if the data showed like it did on my first adventure, the soldering machine produced the most defects, that defined the scope of my project. That placement machine capability was also very poor defined another project that needed full time attention.

    What we call GB projects today were the “part time” help I could use. Using the tools to determine possible X’s that may effect the Y performance gave the GB what data he/she should collect and monitor. If it was found that their X followed the variation of the Y, they found a way to stop that variation, hence a GB project. If the X did not vary with the Y its measurement and project worked was stopped.

    What you don’t know you don’t know is a good axiom. Why is it that we believe we can pre-determine the financial outcome of a project before any data is taken? And I agree that I have seen many BB projects bust on financial returns because they optimize a sub-process area that a simple green belt project step up the line canceled. The green belt project found the real money.

    BB’s spend all of their time in a systematic study of the variation in the Y or counter measures. Projects ebb and flow as the data points the BB in the direction needed.

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    #193103

    MBBinWI
    Participant

    @twhitney99 – The only thing that I would take issue with is that you must use some criterion for selection, and financial benefit is probably the best. Thus, we must in some way estimate the financial impact early on, and taking a 50% (or 67% or 75%) reduction on the current costs is a reasonable estimate at least for the first cut.

    And, yes, it is true that it sometimes happens that a sub-project (or GB project) of the overall system makes the requisite change to achieve the overall system objective. In such case, declare victory and move on to the next project, as there are generally more than enough to go around.

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    #193105

    MBBinWI
    Participant

    @twhitney99 – Yep, I’d say violent agreement.

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