It’s Time to Rethink the Green Belt Role

Over the years I have personally trained many Green Belts — somewhere north of 3,000 I estimate — and the Lean Six Sigma efforts I led trained several thousand in total. As an Executive accountable for Lean Six Sigma deployments I have wrestled with the training curriculum, certification methods, and objectives of Green Belt Programs. I believe that we are now at a juncture in the evolution of performance improvement that we need to step back and reexamine the nature and purpose of the Green Belt role.

There are a number of reasons why I think it is time for a consideration of whether we continue to use a role like Green Belt and if so, their mission and consequently the requisite skills, attributes, and objectives. The Green Belt role exists within a larger context of Lean Six Sigma deployment; some aspects of this model, in my experience, continue to work well, or at least better than other alternatives. But there are aspects of the current conception of Lean Six Sigma deployment that needs to change, or at least, requires a thorough “clean-sheet” design review. Here are some of the considerations and issues at play:

  1. The balance between “project” and “non-project” efforts, or put another way, what I refer to as a project-centric approach as compared to a  focus on job design and job execution;
  2. The challenges of high-performance and sustained process management;
  3. The changes in technologies and methods for adult training and education;
  4. The increasing need, as I see it, for greater systemic action and thus for discontinuous rather than continuous improvement.
  5. The nature of employee engagement;
  6. Given the above shifts and others, the need to reassess the nature of the Black Belt and Master Black Belt roles.

Consequently, to the extent some or many of the above items change the architecture of how we approach performance improvement, then there are implications for the nature of the Green Belt role.

Over the next several weeks I’ll share with you my thinking on the Green Belt role: Is there a need for it? If so, how might the mission and objectives change? If the purpose changes, what are the implications for the requisite skills and knowledge?

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One Comment on “It’s Time to Rethink the Green Belt Role”

  1. DES Bell says:

    Look forward to your thoughts on this. We’re launching a LSS based continuous improvement program and are thinking through this and several other deployment, structural and training questions.


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