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A Six Sigma Guide To "The Belts"

Feb 29, 2008
As important and essential is the implementation and use of Six Sigma to the livelihood of any business organization, the certification process for an individual to become Six Sigma qualified is rather obscure.

Basically, there is no formal list or specific amounts of training and knowledge that one must have in order to obtain the various levels of technical and organizational expertise.

However, there are three specific certification levels to Six Sigma leaders: Green belts, Black Belts and Master Black Belts.

Green Belts

Green Belts are proficiency team leaders that are capable of organizing and instructing six sigma teams and can easily manage projects from conception and beyond. Green Belt training is usually composed of a week of classroom training, which is often held in tandem with a company's current six sigma projects.

Training usually covers different facilitation techniques, project and quality management tools, quality control, problem solving, and data analysis.

Black Belts

People who make excellent Black Belts are hi-tech individuals with advanced aptitudes for statistics and mathematics and are often role models for their colleagues. They should already be engaged in their company's strategic organizational overhaul including business development processes. Black Belt candidates usually have varied backgrounds and are usually not formally trained in statistics.

But because Black Belts need to learn a large number of technical tools in a very short timeframe, candidates should be comfortable with advanced mathematical concepts and a working knowledge of quantitative analysis.

They will work to extract useful information from a business's information system. Successful Black Belt aspirant should be well-versed with several computer systems, spreadsheets, database tools and presentation programs, such as Microsoft PowerPoint.

As a component of their Black Belt training, all prospects should be required to be skilled in the use of several statistical analysis softwares, such as SPSS.

Master Black Belts

The Master Black Belt is the highest level of Six Sigma technical mastery. Because only Master Black Belts can and are required to facilitate the training of Black Belts, they have to know everything the black belts do. In addition, they need to understand how the theory of mathematics is linked with statistical methods.
Six Sigma Master Black Belts must be able to help their lower-level counterparts (Black and Green Belts) in applying the appropriate methods throughout the project process.

Generally speaking, training in statistical methods should be done solely by Master Black Belts. Due to the basis of the Master Black Belt's work, communication skills, as well as the aptitude to teach, should be deemed just as important as technical skill when evaluating candidates.
About the Author
Tony Jacowski is a quality analyst for The MBA Journal. Aveta Solution's Six Sigma Online offers online six sigma training and certification classes for lean six sigma, black belts, green belts, and yellow belts.
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