Six Sigma Training: What Every Green Belt Should Know

Recently, Maj. Amanda Harrah, of the Army’s 28th Infantry Division, explained why she fell in love with Lean Six Sigma and what every Green Belt should know. “Lean Six Sigma gets us to work as a team,” Harrah wrote, adding that it “gives us the impact of our lost time on our performance and ultimately our Combat Mission Effectiveness.”

As for what Green Belts should know, Harrah stated, “you’ll work smarter, not harder.” She stated that leading a Lean Six Sigma project was generally a part time undertaking. Additionally, she noted that not everyone on the team would necessarily be excited right away about the changes that will come through the Six Sigma process. However, she encouraged Green Belts to develop a solid communication plan right from the start, to ensure that the right information about the project is provided by all the stakeholders, and to remember that their leadership is critical to shaping the project’s outcomes. Buy-in from others could be achieved by including them in the process, and helping them to look for data-driven solutions, she noted.

At the Pyzdek Institute, Lean Six Sigma Green Belt certification involves 100 hours of coursework, a comprehensive written exam, and the presentation of a real world project to one of the institute’s Certified Master Black Belts. Once certified, Green Belts possess the knowledge of D-M-A-I-C, and can apply that knowledge in a supporting or leadership position on a Six Sigma team. There is no minimum education requirement for those seeking Lean Six Sigma Green Belt certification, and the Green Belt training is not a prerequisite for Black Belt training.

Would you like to receive training that will teach you the principles needed to lead your company towards data-driven efficiency and cost savings? If so, contact us.

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DMAMIC – A New Way to Teach Six Sigma

DMAMIC

In the beginning of Six Sigma there was MAIC: Measure-Analyze-Improve-Control. Then General Electric added Define. And that’s where things have been for 25+ years. Six Sigma is DMAIC. There’s just one problem: it doesn’t work very well for teaching purposes. DMAIC as a framework for executing Six Sigma projects works just fine. I’ve led hundreds of DMAIC projects and reviewed thousands more for certification and other purposes. But teaching Six Sigma in the DMAIC sequence is problematic and should not be done.

The Two-Measure-Phase Teaching Model

When I teach Six Sigma I break the Measure phase in to two distinct sets of lessons.

Measure1 – Descriptive Measurements for Characterizing Processes

The first set of Measure topics is largely non-technical. I teach students how to understand and interpret variation, what measurements are, operational definitions, scales of measurement, etc.. I also teach them how to sample and collect data and use it to measure the current baseline and to perform exploratory data analysis to let data talk to them. I also teach the use of simple descriptive statistical methods to display properties of data distributions such as central tendency, spread and shape. I show students how to use existing and newly collected data to drill down from higher levels of cause-and-effect to more granular levels by using stratification. I teach about the pros and cons of using historical data.

These Measure tools help students to develop theories and do some preliminary work in checking their theories with facts and data. They are mainly graphical: run charts, histograms, boxplots and the like. Some statistics are used to quantify otherwise vague concepts such as “center” and “spread.” I view the first phase of Measure training as something of an extension of the Define phase. However, where Define focuses on the project, M1 concerns itself with the process. It is where the team puts the project definition to the test by using data. The deliverable from M1 is a more detailed process definition and a rough model of how the process creates the outcome which the project aims to improve.

Measure2 – Measurement Systems Analysis

Measurement Systems Analysis (MSA) is the rigorous evaluation of measurement systems. When an MSA is completed we will be able to categorically answer the question: can the measurement system adequately characterize the process on which it is being used? In the case of Green Belts this question is answered using control charts and their associated statistics. Black Belt training goes deeper and partitions the variation into variation in the process and variation from other sources, such as different inspectors and repeated readings.

In both the Green Belt and Black Belt cases the MSA is, in essence, a designed experiment. Even though Green Belt training doesn’t cover the statistical analysis of designed experiments, it does cover the proper design of experiments. It also covers how to properly control experiments to assure that the results are not contaminated with variation from unintended sources. Now, the proper design and control of experiments are properly taught during the Analyze phase. This includes teaching things such as special and common cause variation, tests of hypotheses, partitioning of variance, statistical modeling, p-tests, statistical error, and much more.

In short, from a teaching perspective M2 training needs to come after the student has learned the topics taught during the Analyze phase.

Advantages to DMAMIC

When the traditional DMAIC approach to teaching Six Sigma is used, all of the Measure topics are presented immediately after the Define topics. When this approach is used instructors must cover many topics from the Analyze phase. This leads to confusion in the minds of students between the two phases of Six Sigma. Separating Measure into M1 (which uses simple descriptive and graphical tools to explore existing data) and M2 (which uses designed experiments to rigorously characterize measurement systems) allows the instructor to lay the groundwork needed to understand what is being presented. When training is complete and projects are actually being done, the Green Belt or Black Belt should use the traditional DMAIC approach. But the DMAMIC approach should be used to teach.

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Why Would a Company Provide Six Sigma Training to Hundreds of Employees?

Why would a company invest in providing six sigma training to hundreds of its employees? For Irish Life, the largest life and pensions group and fund manager in Ireland, it’s all about innovation.

Why would a company invest in providing six sigma training to hundreds of its employees? For Irish Life, the largest life and pensions group and fund manager in Ireland, it’s all about innovation.

According to a report from Business and Leadership, about 40 of the 300 people involved in the company’s corporate division are focused on innovation and information technology. They’re responsible for leading and driving for change across the business. However, when it came to six sigma training and the benefits that the methodology could provide to the corporate division, it wasn’t offered to just those 40 people. It was offered to all 300.

All 300 employees chose to participate and are certified at the yellow belt level. Around 10 went on to obtain their green belts, and another three or four have become black belt certified, the report stated. What the company discovered after the training took place was that more ideas are being created. The training, when combined with market and customer research, has led to specific innovations including a smartphone app and the commitment to use less paper.

With the high degree of competition in the financial services field, the report noted, constant innovation is crucial. While others in the industry shrugged off the notion of applying a methodology that was originally designed for efficiency in manufacturing, Irish Life has put it to work for them.

Are you interested in learning more about how six sigma training can make your

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Management Team of Georgia Medical Center Receive Six Sigma Training

According to the medical center’s president, the new Green Belts are already putting their training to use introducing changes aimed at improving processes and advancing care at the center.

Four members of the management team at Habersham Medical Center, in Demorest, GA, recently received Six Sigma Training and earned their Green Belt certifications, the center reported. The staff receiving the training included the chief clinical officer; the director of quality; director of the emergency department, respiratory, and prime care; and the director of obstetrics.

According to the medical center’s president, the new Green Belts are already putting their training to use introducing changes aimed at improving processes and advancing care at the center. The new processes are not short-term fixes, he stated, but long-term procedural changes that the organization will see the benefits of for years to come.

The Habersham Medical Center, which is located 80 miles from Atlanta, is a 53-bed not-for-profit acute care facility that serves more than 80,000 residents in Habersham and surrounding areas. The award-winning medical center is one of the largest employers in the area, with a staff of more than 600. Some of its specialties include orthopedics, obstetrics, urology, ophthalmology, and sports medicine. The facility also offers family practice, internal medicine, and general surgery, as well as 24/7 emergency care.

A certified Lean Six Sigma Green Belt is a professional who is well versed in the Lean Six Sigma methodology who can lead and support improvement projects, typically as a part-time role. They understand how to perform and interpret Six Sigma tools and use the standard principals of Lean.

Why would an already successful medical care center chose to train its employees to implement Lean Six Sigma methodologies? Because that center understands success. Lean Six Sigma has a proven track record of decreasing waste and improving service. For more information on Lean Six Sigma training and what it can do for your company, contact us.

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Employees from APM Terminals Bahrain Receive Six Sigma Training

There’s a reason that globally successful companies such as APM Terminals turn to Lean Six Sigma to provide their employees with the tools necessary to offer more efficient business. That reason is simple: It works.

A recent article from Arabian Aerospace reported that more than 21 employees from various departments at APM Terminals Bahrain have undergone Six Sigma training and have become Green Belts. APM Terminals Bahrain is the operator of the Khalifa bin Salman Port, one of the newest ports in the Arabian Gulf.

The training provides the employees with tools that will enable them to form, lead, and mentor teams on projects that will produce high returns for the company, the article stated. The Lean Six Sigma principles are in line with the company’s desire to be at optimal operational efficiency. The Khalifa bin Salman Port is one of the only mixed use ports in the region, offering services that include sea freight, shipping, and logistical services with the industry’s high international standards.

APM Terminals is located in 67 countries, with an annual revenue of $4.33 billion and with 20,300 employees. In 2013, five facilities from APM Terminals were named among the world’s most productive terminals by the U.S.-based Journal of Commerce Group. Headquartered in The Hague, Netherlands, the company strives to meet the ever-changing needs of global trade in economically, environmentally, and socially responsible ways.

There’s a reason that globally successful companies such as APM Terminals turn to Lean Six Sigma to provide their employees with the tools necessary to offer more efficient business. That reason is simple: It works. Whether your business is large or small, you too have access to Lean Six Sigma training in an online format that allows you to obtain certification where ever you may be. For more information, contact us.

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Six Sigma Training Takes Ethanol Industry by Storm

DuPont, which is implementing Six Sigma principles company-wide, including use in its FermaSure ethanol product line. Currently, the company has more than 6,000 trained green belts, 1,300 black belts and 5,000 active projects.

According to Jim Fruge, a consultant for the ethanol industry and a Six Sigma black belt, most ethanol producers are now adopting the practices of Six Sigma in order to increase efficiency in product creation and ethanol production. The industry’s embrace of Six Sigma was highlighted in a recent article in Ethanol Producer Magazine.

Six Sigma practices have been adopted by roughly two-thirds of all Fortune 500 companies, the article noted, and Motorola — where the Six Sigma methodology originated — has reportedly saved $17 billion over the 27 years it has used it. Those are good enough results for Fruge and others to work to brink the practices into the ethanol industry in an even bigger way, with the belief that Six Sigma can maximize ethanol yields with existing equipment and improve the product to suit the customer’s needs.

DuPont, which is implementing Six Sigma principles company-wide, including use in its FermaSure ethanol product line. Currently, the company has more than 6,000 trained green belts, 1,300 black belts and 5,000 active projects. In fact, the article noted, the FermaSure product itself was developed using Six Sigma’s DMAIC principles: Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve and Control.

Others in the ethanol industry that are singing the praises of Six Sigma are the management of the Winnebago, Minn. company Corn Plus, which turned to the methodology as a way to gain plant efficiency; and Pinal Energy, who has seen greater ethanol yields since its implementation and lower natural gas usage at its plant.

Thomas Pyzdek wrote the handbook for Six Sigma training that remains the standard reference worldwide. That knowledge is now available to you and taught in online courses by Thomas Pyzdek himself. If you’re interested in what Six Sigma can do for you, your career, and your company, contact us.

Want to learn more? Take a look at these courses from The Pyzdek Institute

Lean Six Sigma Black Belt Training
Lean Six Sigma Green Belt Training
Six Sigma Black Belt Training
Six Sigma Green Belt Training
Lean Expert Training
Lean Overview Training

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What is a Black Belt?

Six sigma technical leaders work to extract actionable knowledge from an organization’s information warehouse. As part of their training they will be required to become proficient in the use of one or more advanced statistical analysis software packages.

Who are they and what do they do?

I‘m often asked about the term “black belt” as it relates to six sigma. What, precisely, is a black belt? Where did the term originate? For that matter, where did the term “six sigma” originate? And, while we’re on the subject, what’s a green belt or master black belt?

Let’s start with the term “six sigma.” In a conversation with Ed Bales of Motorola University, I learned that Motorola coined the term in 1986. As those who have worked in quality for a while know, this term has statistical roots in the technique known as process capability analysis. Prior to the Japanese industrial invasion of U.S. markets, quality practitioners were happy with three sigma quality, which translates to about three errors or defects per 1,000 items for processes in a state of statistical control. Motorola discovered that its processes weren’t in statistical control–estimates based on field failure data indicated that Motorola’s processes apparently drifted by an average of 1.5 standard deviations. In a conversation with ex-Motorola trainer Mikel Harry, I learned that he considers the Cpk index–which measures short-term process variability under statistical control–worthless. Harry prefers the Ppk index, which measures actual performance rather than process capability. (Note that many experts, including me, disagree strongly with Harry on this issue.) In any case, before computing expected process failures, Motorola adds this 1.5 standard deviation. Thus, when we hear that a six sigma process will produce 3.4 parts-per-million (PPM) failures, we find that this PPM corresponds to the area in the tail beyond 4.5 standard deviations above the mean for a normal distribution.

Motorola also adopted the terms “black belt” and “green belt.” For my book The Six Sigma Handbook, I did extensive research into what employers expect of people with these titles. Here is a summary of these various responsibilities:

  • Master black belt–This is the highest level of technical and organizational proficiency. Because master black belts train black belts, they must know everything the black belts know, as well as understand the mathematical theory on which the statistical methods are based. Masters must be able to assist black belts in applying the methods correctly in unusual situations. Whenever possible, statistical training should be conducted only by master black belts. If it’s necessary for black belts and green belts to provide training, they should only do so under the guidance of master black belts. Because of the nature of the master’s duties, communications and teaching skills should be judged as important as technical competence in selecting candidates.
  • Black belt–Candidates for technical leader (black belt) status are technically oriented individuals held in high regard by their peers. They should be actively involved in the organizational change and development process. Candidates may come from a wide range of disciplines and need not be formally trained statisticians or engineers. However, because they are expected to master a wide variety of technical tools in a relatively short period of time, technical leader candidates will probably possess a background in college-level mathematics, the basic tool of quantitative analysis. College-level course work in statistical methods should be a prerequisite.

Six sigma technical leaders work to extract actionable knowledge from an organization’s information warehouse. Successful candidates should understand one or more operating systems, spreadsheets, database managers, presentation programs and word processors. As part of their training they will be required to become proficient in the use of one or more advanced statistical analysis software packages.

  • Green belt –Green belts are six sigma team leaders capable of forming and facilitating six sigma teams and managing six sigma projects from concept to completion. Typically, green-belt training consists of five days of classroom training and is conducted in conjunction with six sigma team projects. Training covers facilitation techniques and meeting management, project management, quality management tools, quality control tools, problem solving, and exploratory data analysis. Usually, six sigma black belts help green belts choose their projects prior to the training, attend training with their green belts and assist them with their projects after the training.

Although the martial arts terms described above are common, they are by no means universal. Companies and consulting firms often create their own titles to describe the work done by these technical leaders.

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How Six Sigma Can Help With Marketing

Beyond the technical tools, when Six Sigma or Lean Six Sigma is well done it begins with understanding what customers are solving for, then helping them achieve their goals by improving the processes you use to provide them with service.

Marketing is a process. Six Sigma is an approach for achieving process excellence. It will help you improve the marketing process by providing tools & techniques for identifying what the marketing process is, including suppliers, inputs, process steps, outputs, and customers. Six Sigma helps you understand the need to determine who owns the process and helps the process owner determine how to improve it. It provides a framework for improving all aspects of this process. It does much more as well. I recommend you enroll and take a week to look around the training site. If it looks like a good value to you, stay in the course and become a Certified Six Sigma Black Belt or Green Belt.

The converse is also true, marketing can help Six Sigma. Both marketing and Six Sigma focus on customers. Marketing is a management discipline dedicated to understanding customer demands, how to design products meet them, and how to let potential customers know what’s available. In Six Sigma training for Black Belts and Green Belts we teach a number of tools that are borrowed directly from marketing, such as the analytic hierarchical process, quality function deployment and Pugh matrices. Master Blacks use conjoint analysis, a quasi-designed experiment approach to measuring customer importance weights. Design for Six Sigma is all about integrating the design process across marketing, engineering, and production to better meet implicit and explicit customer demands.

Beyond the technical tools, when Six Sigma or Lean Six Sigma is well done it begins with understanding what customers are solving for, then helping them achieve their goals by improving the processes you use to provide them with service. This is truly an integration of marketing and Six Sigma.

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Project Selection for DMAIC | Quality Digest

The Six Sigma Heretic, provides a pretty good overview of important things to consider when choosing a Six Sigma project. But there’s one big oversight that I noticed.

Project Selection for DMAIC | Quality Digest.

As a Quality Digest columnist I tend to be a reader of their other authors, too. This month’s Inside Six Sigma article from Steven Ouellette, The Six Sigma Heretic, provides a pretty good overview of important things to consider when choosing a Six Sigma project. But there’s one big oversight that I noticed. Steven fails to include as a criteria that the project should address a problem or opportunity where the connection between the desired outcome and the causes driving it are unclear. Projects can have every other attribute mentioned in the article and still not be good Six Sigma projects if they’re missing this vital attribute. The reason is simple: if the causes of the outcome are known, you don’t need the Six Sigma skill set to successfully complete the project. It is, essentially, a “Just Do” project. The training provided to Six Sigma Black Belts or Six Sigma Green Belts will be wasted. There are probably better projects for them to undertake.

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