Six Sigma Black Belts Explained

The Training cycle for Six Sigma Black Belts ranges from 1 month to multiple years, during which time the candidates work to master the subject matter by completing a project and a final examination.  Six Sigma Black Belts coach the organization’s Green Belts, while also being coached by Master Black Belts. In most circumstances, a Black Belt becomes a Master Black Belts after much experience in Six Sigma Project deployment and completion.

Within Six Sigma lore, good Black Belt candidates share similar traits including, customer advocacy-where the Black Belt candidate understands that the client is the final judge of quality and service. A good candidate is also passionate about the job, and is willing to take the initiative and be positive at all times. They  are versed in “change” leadership, meaning the welcome change and happily shepherd other workers through the change process. Six Sigma Black Belt candidates are skilled communicators, effective trainers, coaches and mentors with an innate ability to tailor the message to the audience.

Six Sigma Black Belt candidates are aware of new business practices. They understand that Six Sigma is completed one project at a time. The candidate is able to be both a team player and a team leader, and has an ability to analyze quickly with a good technical eye, so to speak. He or she is always goal and results oriented. Most importantly they are fun and passionate people about life in general.  Other qualities displayed by good Black Belt candidates are trust and integrity.

The best Six Sigma Black Belts have deep process knowledge and come with a diverse work experience. They usually have an advanced college degree or two as a means of demonstrating advanced thinking skills. In addition to Six Sigma knowledge they may also have ISO or some other quality control expertise and skill set.  However, there are some things that can undermine a successful Six Sigma Black Belt Training project. This may happen when your Black Belts get no support from their champions, or there are not enough Green Belts in the program.

Some organizations do not train Six Sigma Green Belts at all, which is a big mistake that will hinder the entire Six Sigma Process.  Green Belts are the ‘worker bees’ of Six Sigma, and without a good group of them, all Six Sigma Projects are destined to fail. Another roadblock to success is the Master Black Belt who is too busy to mentor the Black Belts so that there is little or no interaction with other Six Sigma workers. Still another common problem that hinders Six Sigma success is project front loading by senior management.  Rather than working the process, Black Belts are told to make the process successful.