September 24, 2017

Why the Six Sigma Belts System?

Six Sigma Green Belt

Why the Six Sigma Belts System?

I was recently looking to compare some Black Belt class-room study certification courses to wonder if they’re still over the $10k range then I realized why the six sigma belts in the first place?  They are for the most part.  However, there are quite a few online complete “Black Belt Certification” programs available for under $5000 (email me if you want me to name off a few).  I was even intrigued as to why the SixSigmaAcademy doesn’t offer Black Belt courses.  They seem to only offer Master Black Belt, Silver Belt, and Gold Belt.  No Green Belt nor Black Belt.  In fact, my understanding of a Silver Belt is something between a Green Belt and a Black Belt, but who’s already a Certified Black Belt.  Maybe someone could explain it to me.  Again, what is up with the Six Sigma belts colors?

Why the Six Sigma belts system?

I always thought it was someone at Motorola or GE that came up with this system because they had failed to complete their Karate or Tae Kwon Do Black Belt.  It seems after looking for this on Wikipedia or isixsigma, there’s no definite explanation and much less consensus

Why so many types of Black Belts?

Today, getting Black Belt training is one thing that is freely available, online, onsite, in the class and everyone claims their training is the best, with the CEU and PDU credits thrown in.  I wouldn’t know where to start or to send my employees.  I mean you can now enroll for:

  • Lean Six Sigma Black Belt
  • DMAIC Six Sigma Black Belt
  • DFSS Six Sigma Black Belt
  • Operational Six Sigma Black Belt
  • Healthcare Six Sigma Black Belt
  • Etc.

But a Green Belt and a Yellow Belt remain the same.  These belts are best summarized as candidates having completed up to two weeks of training, usually the first two of any Black Belt curriculum.

Why not a Six Sigma Red Belt or Six Sigma Brown Belt

I would suggest something close to a martial arts system such as, but not limited to Karate, Judo, or Tae Kwon Do where you could earn a self-declared Six Sigma Red Belt or Six Sigma Brown Belt, or any color preceding that of Black where:

Candidates have successfully completed Green Belt training but not necessarily certified.  Certification isn’t necessary – you know there are many more Six Sigma Green Belt candidates who have not certified than there are Certified Six Sigma Greenbelts.  I’m sure that the savings yielded from a non-certified Green Belt far out weigh those certified as there are certainly many more

Two years of experience as a Green Belt

No time or resources to request or complete Black Belt training because:

  1. No management buy-in, therefore, no budget or travel allowance to leave the company for two to three more weeks
  2. No successor to cover for you as the leading corporate fire-fighter.
  3. No expert or advanced knowledge of Statistical Process Control (SPC) would be required, specifically:
    1. No knowledge of a given process capability in terms of Cpk or Ppk
    2. No knowledge of statistical analysis techniques such as
      1.                                   i.    No Anderson-Darling tests for normality
      2.                                  ii.    No t or F-tests
      3.                                 iii.    No Hypothesis testing (when the p is low, the null must go, remember?)
      4.                                 iv.    No knowledge of Design of Experiments (DOE), or blocking, or common cause variation analysis

I would expect that the Six Sigma Brown Belt be familiar with

  1. Yields and Metrics
    1. First-Pass yields, and RTY (Rolled Throughput Yield)
  2. Capturing the Voice of the Customer (VOC)
    1. Various types of surveys and how to conduct them – knowing how to conduct Kano surveys would be an asset but not mandatory for a Six Sigma Brown Belt
    2. How to translate a VOC into requirements that would drive
      1.                                   i.    CTS – Things Critical to Satisfaction
      2.                                  ii.    CTD – Things Critical to Delivery
      3.                                 iii.    CTQ – things Critical to Quality

3.  Identifying and eliminating Waste

Interestingly, after some googling there are several organizations now offering Six Sigma Red Belt and Six Sigma Black Belt training and outline their benefits.  Sounds more like McSigma to me (a factory that turns out Six Sigma belts).

Therefore, I declare that I’m a Six Sigma Brown Belt three times over!

Used with permission from

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