What colour is your belt?

I see more and more business advisors saying that they can help businesses because they have a lean/ six sigma/ lean six sigma qualification and then go on to state that they have a green belt qualification.

Please, please don’t believe that these people can help you or your business!

And here is the reason why….

The belts in all these qualifications relate to the experience and the number of tools that the participant has been trained in and are qualified to use in a lean six sigma project. As per the origins of the terminology – the darker the colour of the belt the more experienced the practitioner.

A white belt understands the terminology and is perhaps a senior manager who will allow the staff the time/ resources to carry out a project. They have no experience in running a project but are there to remove roadblocks to the project.

A yellow belt is someone who is asked to gather data for a specific project. They will be trained in the one aspect/ tool of the project relating to them.

A green belt is someone who can gather data from a variety of sources and who understands SOME of the tools used in a project – but only those relating to the specific part of a project that they have been involved in.

A black belt is someone who is trained in all the tools, but is inexperienced in running projects and needs to build a portfolio of experience before being in complete control of a project.

A Master Black Belt is someone who is fully experienced in running projects and analysing the data. They are fully trained and experienced in all the potential tools within the Lean six sigma suite and they are the only ones qualified to train others to use these tools.


So; if someone is offering to help you then make sure they are a master black belt, or you may not be getting the experience, or the tools, that your business needs!

If you do use a lower belt make sure that the issue / project they worked on was exactly the same as yours and that the portion of the project they worked on relates to your business/ your industry.

As the saying goes – you don’t know what you don’t know. So make sure if you’re going to pay for help that you get an expert, not someone else who doesn’t know what they don’t know.


If you’d like some impartial advice about how a Lean Six Sigma approach might help your business please get in touch on lean@businessignitiongroup.co.uk