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Green Belts and Black Belts? Similar to martial arts, Lean Six Sigma uses a coloured belt ranking terminology to define the level and function of Six Sigma practitioners.
But what do the levels mean?
In this guide I'm going to run through the Six Sigma belt levels to explain their role and function and how you can achieve each level.
This should help you when deciding what level of Lean Six Sigma Training different team members require to successfully run Lean Six Sigma projects.
To learn more about Six Sigma including the Belt levels, download our free eBook 'What is Six Sigma?'
Lean Six Sigma Yellow Belt
Yellow Belts are team members on Six Sigma projects. They need to understand the key processes and some of the basic Lean Six Sigma tools to work on a project but not to the level of Green Belt.
We run a 2-day Lean Six Sigma Yellow Belt course to enable Six Sigma team members to improve their understanding and awareness of Lean Six Sigma tools and processes.
Training team members to Yellow Belt level improves performance and reduces timescales on Six Sigma projects.
Six Sigma was initially developed within the manufacturing industry as a means minimise deficits. Today it is used in all sorts of industries (and there's a high demand for it as a qualification), from healthcare to sales. Our various Six Sigma Courses have been attended by firefighters, insurers and civil servants, just to name a few!
One particular tenet though, 5S, seems rooted in Six Sigma's manufacturing history. How can 5S, an idea coined orginally coined to improve the factory floor, be applied outside of manufacturing?
We asked some experts for their views and received some fantastic feedback. Thanks to all who responded and here's what they had to say.
Everyone hates queueing. It annoys customers and business-owners alike; so much so in fact that queue management is considered a significant part of business theory as it can have a huge impact on the service that a customer receives.
If it's done well, it becomes a barely noticeable aspect of the experience. Done wrong, and it can lead to excessive waiting times that will distress and irritate the customer.
Using the DMAIC method from Six Sigma, it's possible to reduce waiting times in queues for everywhere from supermarkets to airports. This will lead to a better service overall and that means happy customers.
Six Sigma is used in a wide variety of businesses and settings to increase efficiency and quality. From factories to governments, its primary use is to make processes better. On our Six Sigma Green Belt Training Course you'll learn all the basics of how to apply Six Sigma to your business needs.
So firstly, it's important to define what the exact issue is with the queueing system. Is it that the waiting time is consistently so long that customers are actually leaving before reaching the front? Is it that there are certain 'peak' times when staff can't handle the volume of customers?
Knowing exactly what the problem is allows for more targeted, and therefore successful, addressing of the issue.
According to queue management theory, there are three aspects of queueing which could be causing an issue:
- Arrival Process
- Service Mechanism
- Queue Characteristics
How is it that customers are coming to be in the queue? Do they arrive in droves? One-by-one? Is there a primary queue and a secondary queue (like at a club for example; one queue to get in, another to pay)?
Is there some kind of bottleneck in the arrival process that means too many customers enter the queue at once? Answering these questions allows you to pinpoint the problem if it's in the arrival process.
When most people think of Six Sigma, they think of huge corporations implementing efficiency-boosting, waste-reducing policies that can mean savings of millions. They don't really think of Six Sigma being used by their local Butcher!
Here's the thing though: Six Sigma is ideal for small businesses and in this post we'll explain why this is the case. In fact, it can even be used for things outside of business like controlling diabetes!
If you'd like to learn more about the processes involved and how to make them work for your business, come on one of our Six Sigma Training Courses.
Why Six Sigma?
So firstly let's take a look at why Six Sigma is so useful for businesses of any size.
1/ Targets Waste and Costs
It's inevitable that some waste and excess expenditure will be incurred in the running of a business. However, this shouldn't prevent you from wanting to minimise both.
Six Sigma identifies where your business is spending too much or using too little from what you have and seeks to find ways to reduce the extent to which they eat into your profits.
An American man who was diagnosed with diabetes used his experience with Six Sigma to control the disease.
William Howell discovered he had Type 2 diabetes and was understandably concerned - potential health risks from diabetes if left unmanaged include blindness, strokes and heart-attacks.
However, William was a Quality professional and was aware of Six Sigma's framework for removing defects. By viewing his undesired symptoms as defects, he was able to use Six Sigma to bring his diabetes under control. You can read excerpts from William's book about managing diabetes here.
If you want to learn more about Six Sigma, try our Six Sigma Training.
Howell decided to divide his diabetes plan into the five DMAIC stages - define, measure, analyze, improve and control.
If you want to find out more about DMAIC and other Six Sigma terms, why not download our Lean Six Sigma Glossary.
This is how he used each stage of DMAIC to manage his illness:
- Define - Howell created a goal statement. His symptoms were related to his high blood glucose level, so this was the first target - reduce the level to a healthier 125mg/dl or less. His other main goal was to control his symptoms naturally rather than continuing to depend on medication by improving his diet and exercising more.
- Measure - Howell continuously measured his blood glucose levels and charted his food intake, including calories, fat and sugar.
- Analyse - He would then analyse this data for trends - noticing any correspondence between a day of high calorie intake and high glucose levels, for example.
- Improve - Using his charts, he was able to notice any areas that he could improve upon to further his chance of achieving his goals. If his biggest contributor to high blood glucose levels was the days when he ate doughnuts for example, his chart would reflect this and he could make the appropriate alterations to his lifestyle.
- Control - By being completely aware of any changes and reasons for them, Howell was able to make constructive choices with the help of his doctor. Any aspects which were causing difficulty could be easily identified and addressed quickly.