There are many different belt certifications are available under Lean, Six Sigma, or Lean Six Sigma disciplines. Although each discipline has different approaches and tools, underlying levels of expertise for a given belt certification are similar. We will discuss the topic through the lens of the Lean Six Sigma approach. Lean Six Sigma discipline combines the two approaches (Lean; reduces waste and Six Sigma; reduces variation) to take advantage of the comprehensive toolbox approach.
What different Belts are for and what do we gain out of these?
White Belt Certification is designed to build an understanding of the basic concepts of Lean Six Sigma Tools and Methodologies from an awareness perspective. A certified person will be able to understand different improvement approaches, steps, and processes to continuously improve, and identify the area where improvement is required.
Yellow Belt Certification is designed to train employees directly involved with day-to-day operations (i.e., supervisors, operators, and maintenance personnel), in specific Lean Six Sigma methodologies-based tools required to identify and implement basic improvement opportunities. A certified person will be able to do basic problem-solving at their work without the need for advanced problem-solving tools.
Green Belt Certification is designed to train technical employees, such as engineers, planners, metallurgists, technicians, improvement analysts, etc. in advanced Lean Six Sigma methodologies based on statistical tools required to execute root cause analysis. A certified person will be able to investigate a problem to a level where any abnormal performance issues can be identified and then eliminated.
Black Belt Certification is designed to train Green Belt personnel in advanced Lean Six Sigma methodologies based on optimization tools required to enhance improvement solutions for maximum returns. A certified person will have applied advanced improvement skills that can be utilized to lead optimization projects as well as support Green Belt experts in managing complex improvement projects.
Master Black Belt Certification is designed to train Black Belt Experts in comprehensive improvement tools and their applications with a complete understanding of theory and science for improvement approaches. A Master Black belt would be able to create and implement an improvement strategy for an organization. They act as coaches for other belts in an organization.
Building the Continuous Improvement Sufficiency in an Organization through the belt certifications program
The journey to Operational Excellence starts with building awareness of Continuous Improvement within an organization. This ideally starts with the delivery of a White Belt awareness training to all employees within the operational improvement scope, specifically focused on methodologies and tools as well as the right KPIs for the right goals to identify improvement areas. Senior Leadership should undertake the white belt certification to ensure they can play their role in driving sustained continuous improvement. This then leads to a Yellow Belt training which drives the improvement journey towards standardized work and employee engagement towards quick hits, 5S, and Kaizen projects focusing on green lean improvement. Green Belt training is essential for more technical problems associated with stability and waste (Lean) issues through root cause analysis. Two more advanced certifications are utilized for optimized solutions through advanced statistical tools (Black Belt) and for complex/redesign projects (Master Black Belt, who also acts as a mentor to all the other Belt levels).
Recommend approach to training
People in an organization require various levels of training on the journey to improvement. Effective training delivery also requires providing the right set of tools to the right people at the right time. The best way to instill an improvement drive is to ensure every role within the improvement scope (including leadership) is familiar with the fundamentals of operational improvement techniques i.e., White Belt Certification. Developing and sustaining leadership improvement skills are the key to ensuring the journey of sustainable continuous improvement in an organization flourish. While all required employees obtain awareness training, a coaching evaluation stage is run in parallel to properly identify the additional training required for the intended role and aptitude. Yellow Belt training is best suited for basic improvement skills and problem-solving training of employees, those directly involved with the day-to-day operation (i.e., supervisors, operators, and maintenance personnel). Green Belt is geared towards advanced skills training of technical employees most likely to be involved with formal projects. The typical roles and responsibilities involved with improvement initiatives are given below in Table 1.
Table 1 - Roles and Responsibilities within a typical Improvement Scope
[Person who requested this project]
[Person whose area will benefit from the project]
White and Yellow
[Person responsible to remove roadblocks]
White and [Yellow or Green]
[Person who will verify financial benefits]
[Other Persons impacted by the project]
[Person(s) who will be leading the work]
White and [Yellow or Green]
[Person(s) who will be doing the work]
White and [Yellow or Green]
The belt certification system is designed to provide individuals with the necessary skills and knowledge to improve their organizations. Employees at all levels can benefit from different belt certifications, which are tailored to meet the specific needs of an organization. While it may be tempting to try and build a department of black belts, this is not always necessary for continuous improvement. A more practical approach would be to identify the areas where training is needed most and provide employees with the appropriate level of training they require. With the right training, your organization can begin its journey toward continuous improvement. If you are interested in pursuing a belt certification, please contact us for more information. We would be happy to help you get started on your journey to Continuous Improvement!