What is “Black Belt” ?

Hello everyone. Last time, I wrote about the overview of “Lean Six Sigma” as one of the problem solving methodologies.

Several roles have been defined to actually implement and drive this “Lean Six Sigma”. This role is divided into several stages, called “Black Belt”, “Green Belt”, etc. There may be quite a few people who have heard the name of these “xx Belt”. As I wrote in my profile, I actually have the experience of taking on the role of “Master Black Belt”.

This time, I will write about “What is xx Belt ?”.

Roles to drive “Lean Six Sigma”

This “XX Belt” does not have a single absolute definition, but is defined for each company that has introduced Lean Six Sigma. In general, those definitions would be like this.

A common pattern is, to first let employees join Lean Six Sigma beginners’ training and be certified as “White Belt” -> participate in Lean Six Sigma project and take certification test to become “Yellow Belt” -> step up to Green -> and then step up to Black.

“xx Belt” as qualification exam

There are several tests for these “xx Belt”. However, unlike the national exams for lawyers or CPAs, there is no single absolute exam. You may be get lost as to which one to take as there are number of tests.

Those are roughly divided into “in-house exams” and “out-of-company exams (open exams)”.

The in-house exam is administered independently by each company that has introduced Lean Six Sigma, and naturally only employees of that company can take it. So isn’t that qualification valid only within the company? That’s not the case. Surprisingly, “I was doing XX Belt at XX company” would sometimes be a plus when changing jobs. In JD (Job Description) to be presented at the time of recruitment, there would be some cases where “XX Belt” is specified. So, if your company has introduced Lean Six Sigma and has its own test system, it might be a plus to try it.

There are really various out-of-company exams, but the most famous ones would be these two, in general.

1. ASQ (American Society for Quality): https://asq.org/

This is conducted by the American Society for Quality. When applying to the exam, you will be asked about your Six Sigma project experience. In addition, since this is an “open book format,” you can bring reference books into the exam.

2. IASSC (The International Association for Six Sigma Certification) : https://iassc.org/

The characteristics of this program are that project experience is not required, and that it is a “closed book format”. Therefore, you are not allowed to bring reference books to the exam.

Based on these characteristics, it can be said that ASG values practical experience, while IASSC values volume of knowledge. I think there are pros and cons to both.

That’s all for this time, and I would like to continue from the next time onwards. Thank you for reading until the end.

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