Six Sigma Belts Explained
Lean Six Sigma is a widely used approach that enables teams to eliminate waste and maximize operational efficiency. Because this is a popular and beneficial approach, many professional seek a Six Sigma Certification to improve both their career prospects and their organization’s outcomes.
Have you considered pursuing a Six Sigma Certification? While you may be familiar with some of the concepts associated with Six Sigma, you might need a little more information before you start the certification process. One area where you should focus your attention is Six Sigma Belts.
What are Six Sigma Belts? In the same way that a martial arts belt denotes your level of training and experience, Six Sigma Belts communicate your level of competence in Six Sigma training. So, as you obtain more training and increase your proficiency in Six Sigma practices, you move up to a higher level of belt.
With each belt comes new training and experience requirements. To better understand what it takes to reach the highest Six Sigma Belt, let’s look at each belt individually and what you must do to earn it.
If you’re a White Belt holder, you’re starting out your journey with Six Sigma – congratulations! You’re taking the first step toward becoming a master in using data and statistical analysis to overcome obstacles and streamline operations. While you may have an awareness of what the Lean Six Sigma methodology entails, you’re not quite ready to work with an active LSS team.
Moving up to a Yellow Belt demonstrates that you have a foundational understanding of what Lean Six Sigma is all about. Earning this belt means are engaging in training to learn more about the tools and strategies that are essential to this methodology. It’s wise to find a training course for this level, so you know you’re starting your Six Sigma journey on solid footing.
Once you earn your Green Belt, you are now considered an expert in Six Sigma. To earn this belt, you must have in-depth training on Lean Six Sigma methodologies, like how to collect data and draw conclusions from it. You also much participate in LSS projects and process implementations.
As part of the Green Belt qualification requirements, you’ll be introduced to and expected to become proficient in DMAIC, a problem-solving process that empowers LSS teams to deliver better outcomes. Let’s explore the difference aspects of DMAIC:
- The first step in the DMAIC approach is to define your problem and plan how to fix it. The "define" stage helps you create a roadmap for your entire project. As part of this step, you’ll define some specific items:
- The problem
- Steps to address this issue
- Project goals
- Customer requirements
- Training in this area will help you learn how to create teams, delegate responsibilities, and use data as the backbone for all your decision-making processes in the future. Time and effort invested into this stage of the process improvement project will streamline operations, leave the client satisfied with the final product, and maximize profitability into the future. This is the strong foundation on which your Six Sigma projects are built.
- Now to the second phase of DMAIC – measure. With this step, LSS practitioners use data to map and ensure that processes are functioning at the highest levels of efficiency.
- Using data is a threefold process: collect, report, and analyze. In this "measure" step, you will learn how to do all three, in addition to learning more about data collection tools, setting attainable goals, creating data-based reports, and more.
- Data collection alone doesn't offer a lot of insight. You have to know how to analyze data and draw conclusions based on what the metrics are telling you. In the "analyze" step of the DMAIC process, you'll learn how to effectively use Six Sigma quantification tools. From data, you can draw conclusions about a number of challenges your organization may face, including high turnover rates or lack of profitability.
- As part of the "analyze" step, you will also learn how to use Six Sigma reporting tools to communicate to your leaders the conclusions and insights you've drawn from data collection.
- Now that you have drawn conclusions and determined what the data was telling you about specific problems in your organization, you're ready to apply those insights to improve operations. Improving processes doesn't happen overnight, so in the "improve" step, you'll learn how to successfully implement change and monitor the progress of your changes using Six Sigma tools.
- The final step of the DMAIC process is "control" and in this step, you'll learn how to track long-term performance improvements. Sustaining improvements is often a challenge for organizations, as it can be hard to track ongoing progress. With the "control" step, you learn how to create a Monitoring Plan which will ensure the ongoing success of your adjustments.
After learning more about DMAIC as a Green Belt, you’re ready to move onto the Black Belt, and with it comes new responsibilities. You’re now equipped to manage White, Yellow, and Green Belt professionals as you work on Six Sigma projects together. In addition to your new role as a leader for other tiers of Six Sigma practitioners, you’re also qualified to train others in LSS methodologies.
Master Black Belt
Finally, you have made it to Master Black Belt. This is a huge professional accomplishment. To earn your Master Black Belt, you must have at least five years of experience applying LSS methods to real-world projects and problems. You must also manage at least ten projects using this approach to reach the highest level of Six Sigma Belts.
Earning each of your Six Sigma Belts is a huge accomplishment, and it can have a lasting, positive impact on your career. If you’re considering pursuing a Six Sigma Certification, the first step you should take is finding a training provider who can help you better understand the fundamental concepts of Six Sigma and the more in-depth mechanisms that you’ll need to master. You’re sure to find success with Six Sigma when you have the right training partner and a drive to add this certification to your resume.