Understanding the Role of the Six Sigma Green Belt

Using and understanding the Six Sigma methods is easy if you think of it as a ladder system.  The lower rungs are there to support the top rungs, just as the lower belts support the higher.  

The Black Belt is a top leader among Six Sigma professionals, followed by the Green, Yellow and White (although the White is not recognized by all in the Six Sigma community and is quite controversial). Master Black belts are there with executives and champions, helping organizations improve their structure and procedures as upper management within the hierarchy.

The Master Black Belt is a function that is filled by a person but serves more of a program purpose.  They are there to consult with and train Black and Green Belts.  Although the Black belt does hold the higher status, green belts are often allowed to lead teams when the right individual shows the right kind of initiative and possesses the knowledge of Six Sigma methods they will use.  They will utilize procedures they have learned from Master Black and Black belts to help them lead successful teams.

Teamwork is a key element to the success of this program.  It is up to Black and Green belts, who are functioning as leaders, to design, implement and monitor plans of quality improvement for various organizations.  Green belts will acts as assistants to Black belts when they are working together as a team.  This individual will still be able to give lower professionals tasks to perform in order to get the work done but they will answer to the Black belt if they are needed to perform a task on their own.

Green belts working on a team as an assistant to a Black belt will listen to the direction of the Black belt, executives or champions and do what they need to do to participate in the overall project in any way.  They may be needed to collect data, formulate surveys and questions and answer questions posed by the Yellow belts.

If they are leading the team, they will do all of the functions that are normally done by the Black belt.  They will ask for assistance from the Yellow belts in gathering data, analyzing results and implementing improvement plans.  In these instances, Black belts may be on hand for consultation but typically the Green professional will turn to a Master Black professional if they have questions or come up on obstacles they did not expect.

Green belts are highly knowledgeable in the DMAIC and DMADV methods of Six Sigma and are easily able to explain these methods to others within their organizations.  They effectively run teams of lower level professionals, helping organizations of various industries improve their productivity, job satisfaction and profitability.