Six Sigma–Black Belts and the Bottom Line


In the eleventh 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 focus on the Black Belts, the lynchpin of any strategy implementing Six Sigma.

In the last post, I talked about the origin of the “black belts”, which were developed by one of the authors, Mikel “Mike” Harry, as a way of labeling the training of the project leaders trained in statistical problem solving, in parallel to the “black belts” in karate.

Why should a company invest in the training needed to create Black Belts?   Because companies can reap at least $150,000-$175,000 per Black Belt project, with many projects achieving a savings of closer to $250,000 per project.   That means with an average of four to six projects annually (or one project every two to three months), a fully trained Black Belt can deliver at a minimum of $600,000 to well over $1,000,000 in cost savings and productivity improvements.

Now, it does takes about twelve months of practice for Black Belts to become fully proficient in the Breakthrough Strategy, but they are the “gift that keeps on giving,” not just because of the cost savings they achieve on Six Sigma projects, but because they can guide others, called Green Belts, in applying the Breakthrough Strategy to selected projects.

So Black Belts can, once trained, bring a tangible cost savings to the company.   What does their training consist of?

That is the subject of the next post.

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