The role of green belts is to provide local process expertise to a team and to facilitate the brainstorming and data-acquisition activities of the team. Unlike black belts, who leave their operational duties behind, green belts “keep their day job.” Likely green belt candidates include process supervisors, operators or clerical staff, technicians, and any other individual who may wish to serve on a project team. Eventually, most employees will achieve green belt status.
For the initial waves of training, select green belts who can provide the necessary process expertise to the previously selected black belt projects. These green belt candidates should be respected by their peers and capable of critical thinking in a positive fashion with a diverse team.
Green belts will learn the basics of the tools used by the project team. Their training will be “a mile wide and an inch deep.” While they will rely on project black belts for problem-solving skills, it is important that they understand at least the need for the tools, if not the general DMAIC problem-solving methodology. For example, as process supervisors, they may be under pressure by the project team to conduct designed experiments to learn about significant process variables. If they have no experience with designed experiments, they may resist these necessary analysis steps.
The green belt training typically is a one-week course that provides an overview of the Six Sigma concepts and tools. It allows the green belts to speak the language of the black belts so that they understand the need for and application of the various tools. Perhaps most important, green belts learn how to function effectively on a team. These team-building skills will ensure that the project team stays focused and maintains momentum.
A suggested schedule for green belt training is shown in Table 2.4. Workshops are used, rather than detailed instruction, to demonstrate data-analysis methods.
Green belts also can be certified using a simple evaluation of their KSAs relative to the training discussed earlier. Rather than having a detailed understanding of the application of tools, green belts are required only to recognize the need for such analysis. Being an active member of two or more Six Sigma projects generally is required to demonstrate successful application of the KSAs.
In some organizations, green belts are designated project leaders, responsible for completing one to five projects per year. This is not a preferred approach for the following reasons:
Organizations choosing to increase the number of projects by using green belts as Six Sigma project leaders will need to address these concerns to prevent an inordinate number of failed projects either because processes are not fully optimized (from lack of proper analysis) or because projects are not completed in a reasonable time (owing to a lack of available project leadership resources). Green belts can serve as effective Six Sigma project leaders when
This last issue is often difficult to address in practice because operational responsibilities often take precedence. For these reasons, a preferred strategy is for full-time black belts to lead projects.
Learn more about the Lean Six Sigma principles and tools for process excellence in Six Sigma Demystified (2011, McGraw-Hill) by Paul Keller, in his online Lean Six Sigma DMAIC short course ($249), or his online Green Belt certification course ($499).