These are symbolic names for Lean Six Sigma project managers who are responsible for improving processes in manufacturing and service companies. It is a role model who has the functional knowledge gained by experience in the field, like the black belts of kung fu.
To become a Six Sigma Black Belt, there is no need to be a Green Belt first. While the Green Belts are equipped with basic process analysis and improvement methods in terms of problem solving techniques, the Black Belts are trained to be powerful to overcome the most difficult problems. It is expected to be a role model within the organization in a way that helps the organization to gain long-term vision, values and behavior.
Black Belts and Green Belts carry out their Lean Six Sigma improvement projects by strictly following the methodology phases as Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve and Control (sustain the improvements).
Lean Six Sigma projects are selected from problems that cannot be solved through experience and intuition, with little knowledge on inputs and process parameters that are suspected to cause variability. In Black Belt projects, the annual saving is expected to be over 50,000 USD, while 20.000 for Green Belt projects.
Although Lean Six Sigma is a program that results from continuous pressures on quality and productivity that encountered in production, it is also widely applied to transactional and service processes. Manufacturers have applied these techniques selectively to non-production processes.
After the quality of the product started to improve, it was reasonable for the manufacturers to begin questioning finance, supply chain and engineering processes. In companies where support for non-production processes was in place, the methodology was successfully implemented. But results are not perfect if management support is limited.
General Electric CEO Jack Welch pioneered the use of Six Sigma outside of production, with the vision of GE to become a Six Sigma company, not a Six Sigma manufacturer.
Welch encouraged GE managers to use Six Sigma in every corner of the organization, including GE Capital, NBC and GE Information Systems’ service processes. Many manufacturing companies have found that most of the financial benefits come from improving the various transactional services and processes surrounding the production processes. Service companies also have reported that they benefit from improving business processes on a similar scale.
For many companies, Lean Six Sigma appears to be a little more than a confusing set of statistical tools. In addition, Six Sigma includes many known tools such as process mapping, which can be used in any organization. This situation creates a conceptual wrong understanding as: “if an individual understands and uses these tools, then the company performs Six Sigma”.
When listening to the symphony for the first time, the total number and variety of instruments may seem intimidating. Classification of similar instruments into the groups, the understanding of which devices serve, which functions and the symphony can only satisfy the audience by producing certain sounds with this range of tools can only be achieved through education. It is known that people buy a symphony ticket not only to listen to a violin, but to listen to Mozart.
While musicians around the world practice it for countless hours to play the instruments, they also know the notes and the timing of all the instruments to play.
Successful maestros know how to organize, but they also know the contribution of each instrument and the individual abilities of the musician. It is the shared vision and the ability of musicians to turn musical instruments into a symphony.
Lean Six Sigma is no different. Open leadership and talented change staff use tools to transform data into information and to continuously guide the organization. Just learning to play an instrument does not provide the strong performance of a symphony. Similarly, learning and using individual tools in the Lean Six Sigma toolbox does not make you a practitioner either.
Improving business processes is a continuous process on its own. “Unlike re-engineering, which is aimed at redesigning the business process from the ground up for the purpose of radical improvement, Lean Six Sigma is the constant adjustment of business processes to changing customer values.
Instead of designing processes for one time, according to given conditions, a system is activated with continuous feedback and improvement, which can adjust itself according to changing market conditions and customer values. The result is an organization fed by market and competitive information and can respond quickly to market opportunities.
Most companies initially followed the quality by focusing on the big goal of zero defect. Unfortunately, many service companies have done so by creating a fear of making mistakes.
After the target was announced, employees were expected to come to work the next day as excellent employees. The work to be done has been linked to this. Errors are covered. Companies have “improved”. This has ended, when customers were lost, employees got jobs in less threatening environments, and service quality became a new “slogan”.
Focusing on a process means that errors are perceived as valuable clues to diagnose the causes of weak processes. People are encouraged to discuss their knowledge of internal problems that cause customer dissatisfaction.
The truth only comes to light in a culture with openness. People will never be perfect and people are not expected to be perfect with a Lean Six Sigma focus. It is not the excellent people we are looking for, but the excellent processes. By working on the structures in which our people work, we can make operation and service environments extremely defect-free.
Layoffs and restructuring changes are the result of companies not being guided in the same direction as the market. They are defined by costs that can no longer be supported by the market price, with too much capacity in a shrinking market, and products and services that no longer meet the needs of customers.
Companies that can continuously adjust their processes according to the market consistently see that they never have enough people to fix business issues that have not yet been touched.
When the workforce is saved from inefficient processes, they can be quickly assigned to areas that companies could not allocate sufficient resources before. As employees turn from solving customer complaints to satisfying customer expectations, Lean Six Sigma is a boon for companies that cannot find enough qualified people to grow their business.