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The Evolution of Black Belts

Feb 4, 2008
Earlier, Black Belts were only required to display their expertise in the standard Six Sigma methodologies such as DMAIC (Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve and Control) and DMADV (Define, Measure, Analyze, Design and Verify), but now they are also required to display an acute business sense that makes all the difference between success and failure. That is to say that Black Belts can no longer afford to be just "process fixers"; they need to evolve in order to play a much bigger role, that of a "business process integrator".

The Emerging Role Of Black Belts

In most organizations, Six Sigma implementations are no longer limited to just a few processes; they are now carried out across all the functional departments that might be there in an organization including sales, finance, production and inventory. The aim is to improve the overall efficiency of the organization rather than just focusing on a single product or process. As such, the conventional role played by Black Belts is constantly being redefined to include new dimensions such as managerial skills and the ability to get things done within the specified time and costs.

Black Belts are expected to take on the role of a manager, who shoulders all the responsibility related to a particular project or plan of action. When Black Belts play the role of organizational managers, they are required to display their expertise in handling all the related responsibilities such as gathering all the resources that might be required, making the best possible use of organizational resources, creating implementation teams, selecting implementation team members, defining roles and responsibilities, allocating resources and making sure that everything is being done as planned.

Cultivating The Skills Of An Efficient Communicator

Black Belts also need to have the right communication skills - because when implementing Six Sigma, they will definitely require the assistance of all those who might be associated with the project such as functional managers, departmental heads, middle and top management, project sponsors, implementation team members, and others. Black Belts who do not possess proper communication skills will fail to make their point or fail to explain the immediate needs and requirements of the project and as such will not be able to garner the timely advice or suggestion of the person or persons concerned.

In order to be effective and successful, Black Belts are now not only be required to understand the good and bad aspects of a business process, but are also required to decide what is good or bad for the organization, on the whole. In short, they will now be required to think in terms of the overall benefits being extended to the organization rather than just making improvements to standalone business processes.
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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