Get To Know The Six Sigma Belts (Black, Yellow, Green, Master)

When most people take time to consider belts, our attention turns to those straps of leather used to hold up pants. However, there are a great deal of ‘belts’ more complex than this of course. The asteroid belt for example; or karate belts. In business too, working with the 6 Sigma strategy, the Six Sigma Belts (Black, Yellow, Green, Master) all represent different levels of expertise.

Before understanding how each of these belts fit into the business management strategy, it is important to understand what Six Sigma represents itself. As a strategy, it was first developed by a US based telecommunications giant. However, it is only in the past 18 months or so that it has been accepted throughout the business world.

The name itself derives from the phraseology which was used in manufacturing by statistical modeling. A sigma rating describes how effective a manufacturing process is, in regards to the quality of product that is delivered. This rating increases as the process develops, which gives a percentile to the expected defect product produced.

In essence, therefore, Six Sigma is an active process whose sole aim is to drive down errors and drive up quality. Applying this strategy to any project is possible, whether in manufacturing or any other departmental business process. Key to its successful development however are the four, six sigma belts (black, yellow, green, master), which define the level of expertise achieved.

The differing levels of personnel, as a rule, are interspersed throughout the different stages of a project and the timeline for it. However, there are trends which go a slightly different way too; with those project workers most experienced and representing the highest proficiency, having a greater overview of the whole project, as opposed to its constituent parts.

At the lowest level, there is the Yellow Belt. As a general rule, this level represents those at the lower echelons of the project. However, as briefly discussed above, the holders of this are very often working on the actionable points of a project. In many cases, though in the wider Six Sigma scheme of things it is the lowest level, the holders will be key workers.

As the scale moves up, the next to be seen are Green Belt holders. These generally have an overview of particular areas of a project or, more likely, will be responsible for the final delivery of defined benchmarks through the process. The responsible party for signing off on the collection and interrogation of data, their role is usually critical.

Holders of the Black Belt will in most cases be the Project Manager. As such, Yellow holders will report to Green, and from here on to Black. However, depending on the size of the organization, holders may also be responsible for key areas and report in to a Master Belt holder.

In its exact understanding however, the Master Black Belt holder will be a project consultant, or trainer. Whilst their services may be used on a constant basis, there are few companies that have anyone of this level within their permanent teams. As Six Sigma projects become much the norm for successful service delivery however, their permanency is becoming more and more profound in modern business.