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Determining the essential characetristics of Six Sigma Black Belts

Antony, Jiju (2007) Determining the essential characetristics of Six Sigma Black Belts. TQM Magazine, 19 (3). pp. 274-281. ISSN 0954-478X

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A Six Sigma Black Belt (SSBB) plays the role of a full-time team leader responsible for implementing process improvement projects using the Six Sigma methodology (Define-Measure-Analyse-Improve-Control) within the business to drive up customer satisfaction levels and business productivity. Black Belt projects are typically defined so that they can be completed in less than 6 months, and are generally focused on high-priority business issues and are targeted to add $175,000 to $250,000 to the bottom-line of organisations (Snee, 2004). A fully trained BB will be expected to deliver a minimum of $500,000 to well over $1,000,000 in direct cost savings to the bottom-line of an organisation per year (Harry and Schroeder, 2000). Moreover, a BB is expected to complete between 4 to 6 projects per annum depending on the scope of the project, complexity of the project and availability of data. The BB program of study focuses on an understanding of the Six Sigma philosophy, key principles and concepts, tactics, application of tools and techniques, project management skills, etc. So,why the martial arts terminology? The sole function of a BB is to focus on disciplined problem solving using the DMAIC (Define-Measure-Analyse-Improve-Control) methodology and a specific set of tools and techniques with speed (i.e. project completion in a short period of time). The purpose here is to defeat the enemy – variation in processes which lead to customer dissatisfaction (Brue and Howes, 2006).