Six Sigma Black Belts Aren't All Created Equal

Thousands of people have gone through Six Sigma training and many call themselves Six Sigma Black Belts. While they may have gone through black belt training and possess the technical know-how, many may not adequately fulfill the role and create successful changes and improvements in an organization. They have the book learning but not the street smarts. Expertise in moving an organization on an improvement path is hard to do and especially difficult to teach in a course. It is a capability that is gained over time. And not everyone is able to make it happen.  

One questions how good a Six Sigma Black Belt is when they:

–Think and act tactically and not strategically.

–Fish  for their associates rather than teaching them how to fish or the opposite — won’t get their hands dirty.

–Can’t leave their egos behind and are self-agrandizing instead of inspirational.

–Are unable to motivate others.

–Focus on the Six Sigma tools but not on organizational and political barriers to success.

–Don’t know how to be agents for positive change and overcome resistance to change.

–Are ill at ease interacting with senior management

–Are statisticians who are not effective communicators at all levels of the organization.

–Have Six Sigma book learning but little real application of the tools.

–Claim to be a Black Belt and “name drop” about it, but don’t actually demonstrate their expertise, just brag about.

—Have difficulty being a team player

–Focus internally without truly considering the customer

As in any continuous improvement methodology, practitioners must be more than tool heads. They must possess essential leadership and communications skills and the guts combined with tact to be a positive change agent.  Six Sigma must add up to more than the sum of disparate cost savings in different areas of the company, or it will  not succeed or be sustainable.

Sherry R. Gordon 

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