Friday, 31 October 2014

What you need to know before taking on the Lean Six Sigma Black Belt


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Are you ready to take on the Black Belt?
freedigitalphotos.net / rawich
The Lean Six Sigma management philosophy can boost efficiency, save money and improve customer services within your organisation. It’s especially applicable if you need to generate business improvements in areas like: customer satisfaction, service delivery and cost control.

But it can only be effective when used properly and it takes a skilled professional to make the most out of Lean Six Sigma’s complex processes.

Luckily, there’s a range of certifications available to improve and validate your Lean Six Sigma knowledge. From the entry-level Yellow Belt, to the Master Black Belt, whatever your familiarity, there’s a cert for you.

- Lean Six Sigma Green Belt

A Green Belt certification identifies you as a trained professional in Six Sigma’s Lean methodology and tools. You’ll be able to work on small scope business improvement projects as part of your job role and will be an effective team member on any Black Belt team. 

Your training will also help you to promote a common set of behaviours and practices which drive acceptance and familiarity of Lean and Sigma concepts inside your organisation. 

There are no prerequisites for the Lean Six Sigma Green Belt certification. And because of this, it can sometimes be difficult to know when you’re ready to take on the more advanced Black Belt. 

- Lean Six Sigma Black Belt

With a Black Belt, you’ll be qualified to lead Six Sigma projects and enterprises as well as executing and completing crucial business improvement projects.

Your enhanced Lean Six Sigma knowledge will make you ideal for providing expert opinions and thought leadership around Six Sigma and Lean. 

As leaders, Black belts will often find themselves in the role of educator. You’ll be teaching team members about Lean Six Sigma methodology and tools as well as coaching Green Belts in your organisation.


Think you’re ready?

If you’re considering taking on the Black Belt, here’s what to look out for:


The Black Belt is a lot more statistics heavy

The Lean Six Sigma Black Belt has the ability to surprise candidates with its larger focus on statistics. 

It is advised that anybody with a desire to achieve the Black belt is quantitatively oriented with a good brain for numbers.

Definitely maths.
morguefile / cohdra


You’ll be expected to use data to convert broad generalisations into clear and actionable goals. You should also be proficient in determining statistical significance and possess good skills in quantitative analysis of data.

Most Lean Six Sigma courses even feature additional training in the use of statistical processing software. These handy pieces of software enhance a Black Belts ability to investigate and analyse complex data. Think of them as a more specialised version of Microsoft’s Excel. 

Try out Minitab, our preferred statistical analysis tool of choice.


Expect a massively increased scope

But it isn’t only about statistics; the Six Sigma Black Belt is bigger in almost every respect. You can expect a bigger curriculum and a greater emphasis on large case studies which can often span your entire certification course.

You might be familiar with studying several ‘mini-case’ studies during your Lean Six Sigma Green Belt course. The small size of these case studies reduces the depth of analysis and enabled a focus on the ‘end outcome.’

However, when studying for the Black Belt, you’ll likely focus on just one large case study. And as a result, you’ll be going into far more depth than you might have been prepared for during your Green Belt.


Not all Lean Six Sigma training is created equally

It’s important to note that there isn’t just one Lean Six Sigma vendor. Because of this, not all Lean Six Sigma training, courses and certifications are created equally. 

Lean Six Sigma training can vary depending on the provider. Some training providers will focus on aspects of the Black Belt that others might mention only in passing.

As a result, it’s advised that if possible, when you undergo your Black Belt, you stick with the same Lean Six Sigma certification provider that you gained your Green Belt with. 

If you have to make the change, be sure you double check the curriculum and speak to the providers to ensure that you’re not revising the wrong material. You don’t want to attend a training course only to find that you have been studying a slightly different curriculum. It’s true, you’ll possess more knowledge, but it won’t help you pass the exam.


Assess your company’s requirements

If you’re taking the Black Belt to help improve the organisation you work for, it would be an oversight not to confirm their requirements.

As we’ve mentioned, Lean Six Sigma courses can vary in terms of curriculum and the content that they cover. It’s important that you’re on a course that teaches skills and techniques applicable to your organisation. It wouldn’t reflect well if you returned to work without this crucial knowledge.

About the Author:        
Sarah writes for Firebrand Training on a number of IT related topics. This includes exams, training, certification trends, project management, certification, careers advice and the industry itself. Sarah has 11 years of experience in the IT industry.