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Six Sigma Belts: Definition, Methodology and reasons to acquire a Six Sigma Certification

By Performance Institute
April 30, 2021

What is Sigma Six?

 

Developed in 1986 by Motorola engineer Bill Smith, Sigma Six is a data-driven quality control method designed to reduce defects and improve business processes, hence achieving greater efficiency. Sigma Six Concept empathizes in two aspects; improving cycle time while reducing errors to sigma levels (below 3.4 defects in 1 million occurrences). Traditionally, Sigma Six concepts were designed to enhance the business process in a manufacturing setting. Still, today, the idea has been adopted in a range of services and value addition industries. The premise of Sigma Six is working faster, with few defects. Kern County is an excellent example of an institution that rose from an economic recession by applying Six Sigma Principles.

Kern County is one of the largest producers of oil barrens in the world, producing an estimated 367,000 oil barrels daily. During the 2015 oil-market crash, the county witnessed a significant drop in oil prices, with the county losing up to 44million dollars in lost revenue on a single day leading to massive layoffs. Under the leadership of Zack Scrivner, the county board initiated six sigma belts as a response mechanism to adjust to the budget deficit while maintaining a high level of service delivery to the citizens.

By changing the fleet policy, the county improved from managing 500 to 1100 vehicles in a month, hence saving the county $24,000 monthly. By redesigning the tax bill, citizens were empowered to understand the tax system, reducing submission errors and saving the county an estimated $120,000 monthly. Further, by changing the permitting process to electronic, turn-around time was reduced from 9 months to six days. In four years, the county has trained 7500 employees on Sigma six belts, and implemented 185 projects, generating $19 million extra revenue.

What are the six sigma belt levels?

The Sigma Six Belt levels can be compared to the belt levels in martial arts. As a practitioner, your belt varies depending on your skills, knowledge, training, and expertise. The more you advance your knowledge and skills, the higher your rank. The belt levels are the White belt, Yellow belt, Green belt, Black belt, Master Black belt, and the Champion.

White Belt

The White Belt is the first level of sigma six journeys. The White Belt is an overview training of the entire six sigma program. Depending on the provider, the course duration can last from a few hours to weeks. The White Belt's main focus is to understand the basic concepts, vocabulary, and fundamental methodology of the Six Sigma. Once you get certified as a White Belt, you can work in the team as part of the problem-solving team while supporting the overall project team.

Yellow Belt

The Yellow Belt is the second level of six sigma certification. This belt is ideal for any employee seeking to develop their knowledge of the Six Sigma principles. Depending on your understanding of Six Sigma, you can join the course as entry-level, or at an advanced stage. The main Yellow Belt is to advance the Six Sigma concepts of definition, measurement, analyzing, improving, and controlling the model (DMAIC). While Yellow Belt training is resourceful in the understanding of Sigma Six concepts, it is not sufficient to enable an individual to lead a project. Hence, a participant in this level can participate as a team member, review the Six Sigma process, and improve the functions that support the entire project.

Green Belt

The ideal candidate for Green belt certification is an individual with a proper theoretical understanding of the six sigma methodology. Through the Green Belt certification, one is empowered to lead the project team in problem-solving, strategy implementation, and decision making. Green Belt candidates are the "doers" in the Six Sigma methodology.

As a team leader in the entire Six Sigma team, a green belt project can lead to financial benefits ranging from $10,000 to $100,000 to a company. Thus, regardless of the industry, the Green Belt is an excellent addition to your resume.

Black Belt

The primary role of a Black Belt in process improvement by measuring and analyzing the Six Sigma process. Training in a Black Belt empowers one to understand the concept of using lean measurement to improve results. Black Belts devote time to allocating resources (both time and human) to reduce variation. Remember, the mantra of six sigma is reducing defects through process improvement. As a Black Belt, this responsibility rests on your decisions to provide leadership that harmonizes processes across the organization to ensure errors and variations are minimized.

Master Black belt

The Master Black Belt is the pinnacle of the Six Sigma project management and training. As an owner of the Master Black Belt, you are the "go-to" person in the organization. Your role is to initiate change and formulate the strategic steps to be adopted to realize the change desires. Master Black Belts are the experts in providing leadership, facilitation, and analyzing every step in the strategic management move. Being a Black Master belt is a great way to rise to the top and stay at the top.

What are the Six Sigma principles?

The Six Sigma principles are the attributes of leadership that have enabled many organizations to rise to the top. The principles include:

  1. Focus on the customer.

    successful companies work a thousand miles in their customer's shoes. If you understand your customer needs and focus on meeting those needs, then you are guaranteed to survive and thrive in business.
  2. Determine your problem and focus on solving it.

    Think about what is holding you back, is its access to the market? Out-dated technology? Poor combination of resources? Or the features of your product?
  3. Concentrate on overcoming variations and stumbling blocks.

    Remember, people are resistant to change, and you must make an intentional effort to inspire and sustain change management.
  4. Communicate clearly and accurately to the team.

    If you want to do more, work in a team; if you want to do it faster, do it alone. Teamwork and coordination are the vital attributes that can impact the success or failure of your project management.
  5. Be flexible and agile.

    Plans look great on paper, but when implemented, variations can occur. Be flexible, redesign, and change your plans to accommodate the upcoming changes.
  6. Use a systematic and scientific process.

    To eliminate subjectivity and trial and error, adopt the scientific method in your project management plan.

Why should you get Six Sigma Certification? 

Six Sigma certification has enabled savings in companies like General Electric, Motorola, and Amazon. At a personal level, Sigma Six certification has proved to increase the earning potential exponentially. According to a study by the Quality process, a certified Sigma Six professional earned $17,205 more than someone without Sigma Six training. Further, the study indicated that people with advanced training in sigma six advanced Six Sigma levels guaranteed a higher salary than those in lower levels. For instance,

  • MBB (Master Black Belt) earned at least $29, 196 above average wage rate.
  • CSSBB9 (Six sigma Black belt) earned $14, 962 above market rate.
  • CSSGB( Six Sigma Green belt) earned $ 8,515 above the market rate
  • CSSYB (Sigma Yellow belt) earned at least $ 1352 above the market rate.

While salary can be a great motivation to acquire a Six Sigma Certification, the desire to foster a lean structure and government efficiency is a better reward. Public service is a privilege whose reward is more significant than the salary. According to Mahatma Gandhi, service to others is service to oneself, and the prize is eternal. If you desire to make the most out of your career in government, then Six Sigma Certification is the tool to help you scale the heights of success.

Sigma Six Certification at Performance Institute

For nearly two decades, the Performance Institute has trained more than 7000 government employees in Six Sigma concepts. The trainees have risen to become experts and 'go-to' professionals in their departments and organizations. The Performance Institute training manual is the benchmark curriculum in the industry in terms of the concepts, models, case study, and quality delivery.

We offer all belts in the six sigma from White Belt, Green Belt, Yellow Belt, and Black Belt. All our courses are affordable and customized to suit your level in the project management understanding. 

Beneficiaries of our Six Sigma training have become the pioneers in initiating and managing change in government. Some of the initiatives that have come out of training at performance institute include: Federal defense agency hafted cycle time by employing six sigma concepts. The federal healthcare project applied six sigma to reduce errors by 30% in a pilot project. Transportation agency applied six sigma concepts to reduce cycle time by half, hence saving $800,000 By reducing case management costs, a local social service department saved $265,000 while producing nearly 500,000 payments. 

While these projects benefitted the state, the initiators and the pioneers received accolades and recognition for their effort in championing effectiveness and efficiency in the public sector. Take a chance today, and give yourself the gift that will keep giving.

About the author

Performance Institute

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