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Implementation roles within six sigma: Featured Article


In order to best create and follow through with the process of six sigma implementation, various members of the implementation team must take on specific roles.These specific six sigma roles and responsibilities have been given conventional martial arts names.The roles for implementation cause a project team to make changes that create a more professionally trained quality management team.No longer will the production floor workers and the statisticians that work with production numbers be separated.Through instigating these roles and creating a cohesive working group, production problems can be better identified and solutions can be found (as is the purpose of Six Sigma implementation in the first place).

In the implementation roles within six sigma, individuals with the titles of leaders and champions usually receive the highest level of technical training.While those who are trained in a "belt" level will usually continue working their assigned jobs while their training is taking place (a lesser time commitment).Of course the time it takes to compile a well-trained team and the effects of the training process on the production line will vary from company to company and is largely dependent on the consultants that are commonly outsourced for this training.In the paragraphs that follow you will be able to read more detailed descriptions of how these roles are typically defined.

Six sigma implementation roles

The six sigma methodology is filled with many roles.When it comes to the implementation roles of six sigma, most lean experts would agree that the following roles should be included in the implementation team.Of course there are no universal rules governing your six sigma implementation structure, so making changes to these prescribed roles is up the discretion of the individual organizations and their unique needs.

  • Executive leadership

Those assuming the role of executive leadership are typically the top level executives who hold the primary responsibility for seeing the implementation of six sigma through from start to finish (finishing referring to when a goal is met).Those holding the executive leadership role are also responsible for the selection of project members and the delegation of responsibilities to those team members.Executive leaders need to be committed to the vision of six sigma in order to motivate the members of the implementation team.Without this dedication to seeing the six sigma implementation process through, it can become easy to get discouraged and consider abandoning the process.Executive leaders also must realize that there may come times when they must take a step back and allow team members to run free with their ideas.This includes making resources available to them in the hope that these investments will lead to worthwhile improvements.

  • Helpful Resources:
    1. Chart of Implementation roles
    2. Follow this link to see a well organized chart of the implementation roles within six sigma and a short explanation of what each of the roles are including the responsibilities of those to whom the roles belong.
    3. Implementation Roles Within Six Sigma

    4. This four page PDF formatted document is an excellent resource to look to if you are wondering what the implementation roles within six sigma are and how, based on the experience of others, these roles can be best implemented.
    5. Summary of the Implementation Roles

    6. If you are looking for a short and sweet summary of the implementation roles within the six sigma process, this site is for you.In an easy-to-understand page you can gain a useful introduction.

    7. Creating a Strategy

    8. Once you have learned about what the implementation roles within six sigma are, you must next decide how you will create a strategy where all of those roles work together successfully.
    9. Training and Certification

    10. If you want to train your own people to take on the implementation roles of six sigma, this website offers training and certification that will allow you to do just that.Read more by following this link.

    11. Lean Business Services

    12. This website is another commercial website that offers their services to lean businesses who are looking into six sigma and the roles that are involved in the implementation.Through this site you can register for courses on the roles or the management positions of those working with Six Sigma
    13. Implementation roles

    14. The right implementation can really make a difference in the success of an operation, that is why it is important to ensure that all implementation roles are working together to achieve a united goal.This commercial company offers services for making this possible.

    15. Certification

    16. Wondering what it takes to receive the certification that is required of each of the roles of six sigma implementation?This website provides an idea of the kind of time and effort required as well as provides the certification services to the user.
    17. Implementing Roles

    18. Click in this link to read a document that is an example of how the implementation roles of six sigma will differ and in this example read how they specifically apply to those who are working for the Navy.
    19. Refresher Course

    20. If you have already been through the certification process or have already hired qualified people to implement your Six Sigma strategy, perhaps you could benefit from a refresher course that helps those who are currently certified to better understand their responsibilities.

    • Champions

    Those who are assuming the Champion role are typically members of upper management.Champions are responsible for the implementation of six sigma in the organization.The Champion is typically selected by those assuming the role of executive leadership.It is the responsibility of the Champion to understand Six Sigma principles.The Champion must act as a guide for his implementation team by serving as a mentor and facilitator.Champions are typically the first to obtain formal training or are hired before any other member of the implementation team because they have already been certified as a Champion.Champions are responsible for not only bringing the most pressing issues of the organization to light but also to generate ideas for projects that will lead to the improvement of these concerns.

    Champions also work to resolve cross-functional issues that may slow down the flow of information and the acquisition of the appropriate tools needed to move forward with obtaining and measuring data and then ultimately instigating changes.Champions also act as mentors to Black Belts, the next roles that are assumed in the six sigma implementation process.

    • Master Black Belts

    Master Black Belts are chosen by the Champions to coach others within the group of those working in the implementation of the six sigma methodologies.This coaching process includes the mentoring of those who have assumes lower roles (black and green belt roles) within the group.Ultimately, the Master Black Belts are responsible for delivering the results of the projects that are being conducted.They must perform many statistical tasks in order to ensure the consistent application of six sigma throughout the entire organization.A Master Black Belt must have strong leadership skills.It is ideal when the individual assuming the Master Black Belt role is well respected in the organization.This respect works to the Master Black Belt's advantage as he must be able to influence decisions.

    Master Black Belts are entrusted with the responsibility to not only maintain the momentum of a six sigma implementation, but also to keep costs down and maintain the focus of the group's efforts on the customer throughout the entire implementation process.A Master Black Belt position is typically a temporary position that is needed from time to time as new projects present themselves.Therefore a company can either hire a Master Black Belt for a specific project or choose to train one with Master Black Belt certification to also assume other job responsibilities in the organization when his specific six sigma skills are not needed.

    • Black Belts

    Black Belts are typically members of middle management who are primarily responsible for executing the six sigma plan of action.Black Belts are typically more technically oriented than other roles within the implementation process.Their job is to create, facilitate, train, and lead teams, with an analytical approach.While other previously mentioned roles involve the employee's focus on identifying projects for six sigma, the role of a Black Belt is to use statistical tools to lead other team members and assure successful results.

    A Black Belt will typically have about 4-5 weeks of professional full-time training in statistical methods and tools.Once trained, a full-time Black Belt will typically spend 2-3 years working as the individual responsible for six sigma execution.It is then typically most advantageous for that individual to return to whatever their original assignment was within the organization.This reasoning is based on the fact that after having worked so intimately with the six sigma mentality for several years, this employee can then re-apply those lessons learned into daily operations.This leads to constant re-adjustment which aligns perfectly with the purpose of implementing six sigma methods in the first place.

    • Green Belts

    Green Belts are responsible for helping the Black Belts to execute projects while simultaneously attending to their own specific job responsibilities.Green Belts typically have part time responsibilities when it comes to their involvement in the six sigma implementation.Green Belts must also receive formal instruction to become certified, however the time commitment to this instruction is significantly less than the before mentioned implementation roles.It is the responsibility of the Green Belts to incorporate six sigma quality tools and language into their daily operations.

    • Yellow Belts

    Yellow belts represent everyone else on the six sigma implementation team (and in some cases throughout the whole organization).Yellow Belts are commonly part of a company-wide initiative to implement six sigma but these individuals have not typically received any formal six sigma training nor are they expected to play active roles in quality improvement projects.Although Yellow Belts are not briefed on the details of the project, they do help Green Belt meet project goals and objectives as administrators, operations personnel.

    Other implementation roles

    In addition to the implementation roles within six sigma that have just been described, there are more roles that can be assumed that aid in the implementation process.Here are just a few examples of the other implementation roles that exist:

    • Financial analyst- A financial analyst is a third party consultant whose services are solicited for the objective examination of project results.A financial analyst will typically also have Green Belt training.
    • External consultant- An external consultant is hired in to help the implementation process by providing various levels of needed training.It is the job of the consultant to make certain that the proper training tools are in place so that failures in the first phases of implementation efforts are avoided.Consultants also can help in customizing the organization's approach to Six Sigma following the adoption of some of the more basic principles.
    • Experts - In major engineering or manufacturing sectors an "expert" is hired to improve overall services, products, and processes for their customers.

    • Sponsor - A sponsor is a senior executive who sponsors the six sigma implementation.
    • Leader- The "Leader" is another term used to describe the senior-level executive who is responsible for the business's six sigma implementation.
    • Team member- The term "team member" can be used to describe the role of the professional or organization's employee who has a general awareness of what six sigma is and can bring relevant experience to a particular project, but who is not necessarily formally trained in any of the six sigma implementation roles.
    • Process owner- This individual "owns" or is responsible for the business process that is the target of a Six Sigma project.

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