Is Your Green Belt Program Working?

nurse with lean six sigma green belt certificate from lean six sigma toolbox

So you trained a bunch of people to be Lean Six Sigma Green Belts. Now what?

I’ve seen it a hundred times. A company hand picks their best and brightest to get Lean Six Sigma Green Belt certified with the hope that they will solve the company’s problems and create a culture of Continuous Improvement. What really happens? The Green Belts go back to their “day jobs” sometimes having never successfully completed a project. Or they complete 1 project and that’s their only dip into the Lean ocean. (side note: Did you know you can pay $300 and get a ‘Green Belt’ certificate online without ever having saved your company a penny? Seriously? That’s why Jay Arthur argues we should only certify people who are MONEY BELTS and he’s right!)

Green Belt programs have a few common problems and I’m going to help you solve them right now.


Have a clear KPI (ok, 2 KPIs) to measure their success. One for activity with a deadline and one for results (read: MONEY).

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Six Sigma Green Belts use DMAIC which has 5 steps and phase gate reviews by management and about 100 tools you can use like SIPOC, Gage RR, FMEA, etc… Guess how long that project will take? The longer and more complex a project is the lower the probability it will have a successful outcome.

Lean thinking changed the game with Kaizen, rapid improvements made without phase gate reviews using only a small number of simple tools like 5 Whys and PDCA where you DO change the process then CHECK to see if what you did worked then try again. Personally I love DMAIC… but we need to speed it up. Does the project have a SMART goal? Great. Let’s go. Use an A3 form based on the DMAIC. Tackle lots of small low effort problems first to build momentum. Make 5 changes in a week, finish 2 Kaizen events in a month, roll it all up and call it a Green Belt if you want to… either way you’ll see an immediate impact.


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“If a tree falls in a forest and there’s no one there to hear it…” Your team is doing amazing things, creating flow in the process and improving quality. And you saved the company about $500k as a result! Does everyone know about it? If not all that hard work was for naught. The only way to create a culture of Continuous Improvement is to shout your wins from the roof top and get the entire village behind their championship football team. Let’s order some more jerseys and get them all on the team.

Check out the full presentation on Keys to a Successful Green Belt Program here. If your Lean Six Sigma Green Belts aren’t achieving their potential you’re not alone. But there is help! For more helpful tips just shoot me a message and let’s make Money Belts out of those Green Belts.

Enjoy the Lean Journey!