Friday, September 25, 2009

Six Sigma Blackbelt Skill Sets

Blackbelt is one of the two key players in any Six Sigma project. The blackbelt is the project leader and directs all activity in the Six Sigma project. Another key player is the organizational champion or the chief sponsor of the project that has ultimate responsibility for successful completion on time and within budget.

The following skill sets are required to be a successful blackbelt:
  • Management and Leadership
    Blackbelt must command both the authority and the responsibility to guide large-scale projects. Project management and leadership go hand in hand. Stakeholders, team members, and the project champion expect the blackbelt to be skilled in the use of the project management methods and techniques.
  • Decision Making
    On sigma projects, countless decisions must be made.  To make sound, timely decisions, the blackbelt has to have a firm grasp of all aspects of the project at all times. He or she must be able to balance costs, time, and results; prevent budget slippage and scope creep; and appropriately allocate resources if a project falls behind schedule.
  • Communication
    Keeping others informed of activities and results can make the difference between perceived success and perceived failure of a project. The following are important areas in which the blackbelt's communication skills are needed:
    - Guiding team efforts at each step of the six sigma process.
    - Creating and maintaining work schedules.
    - Arranging and leading project team meetings.
    - Sharing project successes and results with upper management, the project champion, and other key stakeholders.
  • Team Building and Negotiation
    Blackbelts must continually build relationship among the various stakeholders: management, customers, team members, the champion, and suppliers. Power is granted only to a blackbelt who builds these relationships. An effective blackbelt must continually negotiate authority to move a project forward. That authority depends solely on his or her ability to build a strong team among internal and external players.
  • Planning, Scheduling, and Acting
    Sigma project management consists of the same elements as in other projects. These include establishing objectives, breaking jobs into well-defined tasks, charting work sequences, scheduling, budgeting, coordinating a team, and team communications. The blackbelt must therefore be proficient in planning effectively and acting efficiently. Balancing the interrelationship between planning and scheduling is critical to project success.
  • Focus
    Six Sigma projects may include several major activities on which different people work simultaneously. The project leader can easily get lost in the day-to-day details of specific tasks and lose sight of the big picture. Successful blackbelts jump back and forth between all facets of the identified project tasks.
  • Interpersonal Interaction
    To be a perceived as a leader, the blackbelt must be regarded as honest, capable, dependable, and personable. It is important for the blackbelt to build a positive relationship with the project champion and other key stakeholders. Effective interpersonal relationship skills are necessary to create a unified team from individuals with various backgrounds.

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