Six Sigma Belts: From White to Black

Six Sigma professionals exist at every level – each with a different role to play. While implementations and roles may vary, here is a basic guide to who does what.

In each Six Sigma organization, when forming a team that runs Six Sigma projects, leaders rely on Six Sigma professionals, known as Six Sigma Belts. There are five levels of Six Sigma belts: Master Black Belt, Black Belt, Green Belt, Yellow Belt, White Belt. This sounds exactly like belts in karate and other martial arts, which tends to boost the morale of the staff since everyone likes the way their positions sound.

Six Sigma belts aren't just positions that depend on certification levels. These are the roles each member plays in a project team. As every Six Sigma Belt takes care of his/her role and uses the tools assigned to them, the entire project shapes in a way that ensures the best results. This is the key to success of Six Sigma methodology.

Six Sigma Belts:

  • Black Belt: Leads problem-solving projects. Trains and coaches project teams.
  • Green Belt: Assists with data collection and analysis for Black Belt projects. Leads Green Belt projects or teams.
  • Master Black Belt: Trains and coaches Black Belts and Green Belts. Functions more at the Six Sigma program level by developing key metrics and the strategic direction. Acts as an organization's Six Sigma technologist and internal consultant.
  • Yellow Belt: Participates as a project team member. Reviews process improvements that support the project.
  • White Belt: Can work on local problem-solving teams that support overall projects, but may not be part of a Six Sigma project team. Understands basic Six Sigma concepts from an awareness perspective.

In terms of organizational support, Six Sigma Projects are also organized in the following levels:

  • Champions: Translate the company's vision, mission, goals and metrics to create an organizational deployment plan and identify individual projects. Identify resources and remove roadblocks.
  • Executives: Provide overall alignment by establishing the strategic focus of the Six Sigma program within the context of the organization's culture and vision.