The Levels of Six Sigma: The Master Black Belt

In Six Sigma, there are several levels of belt titles that are used to signify the professional experience and education of the individual.  The Master Black Belt Level is one of the highest levels of Six Sigma Training Possible.

Business people who want to use the Six Sigma methods will work with the top level professionals to improve their quality of productivity, service or job performance.  The methods can be used at every level of business.  It is the Black Belt professional that will design a structured plan based on the findings of the Green and Yellow belt employees.

Sometimes, projects are run by a Green Belt professional, with a high level of experience.  This usually happens when a Green Belt has been working in the hiring organization’s industry already and is experienced with leading projects.  

Over the three significant belt levels of Yellow, Green and Black, there is the Master Black Belt.  This professional will act as a consultant and a trainer for the new employees, training them to be 6 sigma professionals. They must be able to answer questions and make suggestions for changes to the existing plan.  This requires a great deal of knowledge in the Six Sigma methods.  It is also helpful if they have a history with the type of organization implementing the methodology or the executives of the company.  

Black Belts (BB’s) typically run projects for very large companies with many departments.  They will often run into snags or areas of business that they are unfamiliar with.  This is when they will consult with their Master Black Belt (MBB) for advice and guidance.  BBs will generally go to the company executives when they have all the information they need on what changes need to be made.  They cannot get to this point if they are stuck with an unfamiliar issue.   

The MBB usually only deals with the Champion, the top executives from the hiring organization or the BBs in charge of the project.  The Green Belts, yellow belts and any white belt professionals that are involved in the project will usually not discuss anything with the MBB.  The white level is a bit of a controversy within the 6 sigma community.  Most reputable training providers will not offer white-level training or certification.

Six Sigma Champions are the individuals who connect the organization with business leaders in 6 Sigma methods.  They will sometimes consult with a MBB if they are considering a fairly inexperienced BB professional to lead a project.  Also, if the MBB has a great deal of experience in the organization’s industry, they are a greater benefit to a BB who does not have that same experience.