Six Sigma–Roles and Responsibilities of Those Deploying the Breakthrough Strategy


In the ninth chapter of their book Six Sigma:  The Breakthrough Management Strategy Revolutionizing the World’s Top Corporations, the authors Mikel Harry, Ph.D., and Richard Schroeder finally get around to telling us how to implement the strategy, after spending the earlier chapters describing what Six Sigma is and what the Breakthrough Management Strategy consists of.

In the last post, I discussed the questions an organization needs to ask itself before it sets up a Six Sigma Breakthrough Strategy within the organization.   In this post, we get to what the roles and responsibilities are of the various individuals who are on team that will deploy and implement the strategy.   This are listed based on a top-down structure.

  1. Executive Management–there has to be support from the executive management.   This is nothing more crucial to getting the strategy off on the right foor.
  2. Senior Champion–a strategic corporate-level position, this is someone who directly reports to the CEO, and who must get business unit-level people onboard (the Deployment Champions).
  3. Deployment Champion-a strategic business-unit-level position, this is someone who must be responsible for the support systems of Six Sigma projects.
  4. Project Champion–this is a tactical business-unit-level position that is responsible for choosing and implementing Six Sigma Black Belt projects.
  5. Deployment Master Black Belts–these are the subject matter experts who are at the business-unit level.   They are responsible for being a repository of technical knowledge regarding Six Sigma for use by the Project Master Black Belts, and for maintaining the company’s database on Six Sigma technical knowledge and keeping it up to date.
  6. Project Master Black Belts–This person is at the business-unit level who transfers Sigma Sigma knowledge to the Black Belts.  They are the teachers of Six Sigma.
  7. Project Black Belts–these are the ones who implement the Six Sigma projects and are where the rubber meets the road with regard to applying Six Sigma to specific projects in order to solve critical quality problems.
  8. Process Owners–these are line managers who must ensure that process improvements, once completed through the Six Sigma process, are captured and sustained.
  9. Six Sigma Green Belts–these are the project team members who have knowledge of Six Sigma under the guidance of Black Belts.   They can even run mini-projects of their own.
  10. Project Team Members–they gather and analyze data for use by the Black Belts.

Some of my favorite metaphors the authors use for the difference between Black Belts and Master Black Belts are the following:

  • the Deployment Master Black Belts spread the seeds of Six Sigma, the Project Master Black Belts plant the seeds and water them, and the Black Belts harvest the fruits.
  • Black Belts are where the rubber meets the road, but Project Master Black Belts are where the tire meets the rim.

In the tenth chapter, the authors go into more details about the six categories of people involved in Six Sigma, categories which include all of the above categories except for one:   the customer, for whom the entire Strategic Breakthrough Strategy is done.

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