Six Sigma is a set of tools and techniques for process improvement. This standard was established by Motorola 1985 and over the years it has gained humongous esteem by thousands of companies all over the world.

6 sigma compliant companies ensure that there are only 3.4 defects for each one million chances/events/opportunities availed. The other sigma values are:


·         2 sigma = 308,537

·         3 sigma = 67,000

·         4 sigma = 6,200

·         5 sigma = 233

·         6 sigma = 3.4


In its basic strategy, the Six Sigma system requires the project be put through an entire process called DMAIC (Define, Measure, Analyse, Improve, & Control).


To elaborate more:

D Define the problem or the opportunity which needs improvement.

M Measure the current process performance.

A Analyse the process to determine the root causes of poor performance; See how the process can be improved, edited, enhanced.

I Improve the process by attacking root causes.

C Control the Improved process by locking it to ensure stability.


The Tools


Central Six Sigma process and acronym to ensure you remember it: Define, Measure, Analyse Improve, Control, more recently extended to DMAICT by others in the Six Sigma consulting and training communities, to Transfer (transfer best practice and thereby share learning).


An alternative/substitute abbreviation to DFSS (Design For Six Sigma), and like DFSS DMADV is central to Six Sigma initiatives. DMADV more specifically describes a method comprising linked steps; Define, Measure, Analyze, Design, Verify, for ensuring that products and processes are designed at the outset to meet Six Sigma requirements.


Categories of Belts


Green Belt:
Green Belts use basic analytical tools. They work on less complex projects


Black Belt:

Black Belts emphasise on applications and analysis. Works on projects with help from Green belts


Master Black Belt:

Master Black Belts understand applications and statistical theory behind applications. They train other belts and leads projects reviews.


Differences Between Six Sigma Black Belts and Green Belts

The process of Six Sigma clearly identifies important roles in any project’s success. Champions and Master Black Belts may often be the instigators of Six Sigma projects, however the implementation and success of each individual project is largely down to the work of Six Sigma Black Belts and Green Belts.

Six Sigma Black Belts

A Black Belt is a full-time change agent within the organisation. With a demonstrated mastery of Six Sigma concepts and tools, as well as a proficiency in achieving results via the Six Sigma processes, Black Belt’s are tasked with delivering high impact projects that help the organisation achieve its overall strategic objectives.

The role of Six Sigma Black Belt is best described as project management, incorporating leadership, analytical and coaching skills. Specific duties may include acting as a Six Sigma technical expert (a reference for Green Belts and team members) as well as acting as a coach and mentor to Green Belts within the team. Black Belts will often recommend high performing Green Belts for certification.

In practical terms, Six Sigma Black Belts will normally perform a ‘tour of duty’ of between 18 and two years as Black Belts within an organisation, executing numerous high value projects each year. Often viewed as a stepping stone to promotion within an organisation, effective Black Belt training is essential to the Six Sigma process.

Indeed, Black Belts are so central to the execution and delivery of Six Sigma projects that Black Belt training is often the first step for companies implementing the Six Sigma process.

Six Sigma Green Belts

The most obvious and fundamental difference between Six Sigma Black Belts and Six Sigma Green Belts is that the latter still maintain their normal job duties within the organisation.

Six Sigma Green Belts still require a high level of training and will be expected to demonstrate their proficiency in delivering Six Sigma projects – indeed Six Sigma Green Belt training often produces Green Belts who are trained to much the same standard as Black Belts.

Depending on the structure of the organisation Green Belts will serve as either part time team leaders – specifically as part of local Six Sigma projects – or part time team members. As they retain their normal duties as well, it is hoped that Green Belts will also be in a position to bring elements of their Six Sigma training into the everyday activities of the organisation as well.

In particular a Six Sigma Green Belt may be expected to:

• Recommend Six Sigma projects based on their own areas of expertise
• Act as Six Sigma champions in their local area or area of expertise
• Occasionally lead Six Sigma teams in local projects
• Teach and share their knowledge of Six Sigma tools and methodologies with project team members and co-workers
• Complete at least one Six Sigma project every six months

Again, effective Six Sigma training is at the heart of the process. Six Sigma Green Belts and Black Belts are the core of the Six Sigma process are their knowledge of the tools, skills and concepts of Six Sigma can make or break the success of the process.

Not only do smart organisations recognise this and invest in Six Sigma training (GE notably requires a large proportion of its employees to undertake Green Belt training) but increasingly, ambitious individuals are adding Six Sigma certification to their own CVs.

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