8 Things a Lean Six Sigma Black Belt Should Know

We’re sometimes asked – what’s the difference between a Green Belt and a Black Belt? What sort of things should a Lean Six Sigma Black Belt know that a Green Belt does not – these are great questions, because there is A LOT of variation in the training available out there.

Not all Lean Six Sigma Black Belt courses are the same! and for this reason, it becomes almost impossible to determine what the difference should or should not be as it becomes a matter of opinion. There are however some key elements where we generally see a difference and let’s not forget, we are thinking about the skills required to deliver successful, sustainable change within service organizations first and foremost.

So, with this in mind let’s take a look at what we see as the things a Lean Six Sigma Black belt should know above and beyond that of a Green belt – here they are in no particular order of importance:

#SkillAbility
1Project SelectionBlack belts should be involved in project selection and as such a set of skills will be required to support them helping the business to select the right things to work on
2Problem StatementsGreen Belts may be able to capture a problem in the right amount of detail and from different perspectives but a Black belt can truly get to the right level of understanding as they will think deeper about the organization and what lies within it
3Voice of the CustomerThere are lots of ways to go about this and a Black belt will need to be able to consider them all.
4Process CapabilityMetrics and measurements is a huge category of learning and one that really sets a Lean Six Sigma Black belt apart.
5Graphical DisplaysControl Charts, Pareto, Histograms, Scatter Plots are all required knowledge along with the detailed understanding of what they are telling us and how to use the information
6Hypothesis TestingA Black belt will be able to use data to generate findings based on fact to ensure better solutions. There are lots of statistical tests and methods such as regression. A Lean Six Sigma Black Belt is aware of these and knows when to pull on this toolset.
7Design of ExperimentsThis can be a complex subject and one that may not be used regularly. A black belt will know when the right time is to use this method and how to employ it. A green belt will generally have an awareness of this but no real practical application.
8LeadershipAbove all else a Black belt is a leader. They have the capability to help change the organization for the better. It’s not just about process and statistics it’s about been an agent for change and one that can operate in context with the business and its senior leaders.

Our training uses active learning simulations (with Lego for extra awesomeness!) as well as group and individual exercises to embed the learning of all the above. This allows us to demonstrate 2 types of problems, one relating to Flow and one relating more to variation. Both simulations allow us to practice tools and techniques in a safe environment whilst relating back to the real world. This ensures our Black belts are well prepared when undertaking their real-world project.

So, what do you think of our list? Is there anything missing that you feel should stipulate a difference between a Green Belt and a Black Belt? Let’s not forgot we are focused on service and in-service many the manufacturing methods are just not required and so we don’t teach them (or only reference them)

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