Six Questions, Six Green Belts

Author: Russ Aikman

Posted: June 2018

TMAC is always seeking a better understanding of our Voice of the Customer (VOC). More specifically, we want to learn more about the viewpoint of our students.

After some debate we settled on just three questions about two major areas – classroom training and project work. That is, a total of Six Questions. In addition we decided to focus our efforts on LSS Green Belts, and limited our search to individuals who had completed project work and become certified. Beyond that we chose to seek out GBs from a mix of manufacturing and service companies.

Here are the three questions:

1)  What did you like best?

2)  What did you find to be most challenging?

3)  Looking back, what would you do differently?

These questions were asked first about the classroom training (i.e., the Green Belt course)… and then the same questions about their Green Belt projects.

Here is a summary of the responses we received:


Question GB Course GB Project
What did you like best?

· Learning about the DMAIC process / Learning opportunity / Information shared / Learning new tools

· Working through the class with my peers / Interaction with students from other firms

· Great learning environment / Open & caring attitude of instructors / Knowledge of instructors

· Sharing what I learned with co-workers back at my office

· Hands-on practice through exercises, case studies, simulations

· Sharing of example projects

· Working on a project I selected in my area / Interaction with staff at all levels in my department

· Working with a cross-functional team across multiple departments / Working on a process outside my area

· Sharing knowledge with co-workers

· Motivation from team to solve problem / ‘A Ha’ moments when team saw impact of efforts

· Applying tools at my company / Using DMAIC to solve real-world problems

· Learning data has a voice

· Opportunity to show our abilities to leadership

What did you find to be most challenging?

· Time constraints / Balancing the class with work duties at the office

· Learning a new process ‘from the ground up’

· Absorbing the amount of information / Lot of concepts in a short time / Fast pace

· Understanding processes and perspective of students from other firms

· Use of Sigma XL software, and how to navigate its menu

· Scheduling team meetings

· Time management / Balancing daily work responsibilities with project activities

· Scope too broad / Dealing with items out of scope

· Gaining buy-in / Overcoming resistance / Making sure entire team believed in project

· Collecting and formatting data

Looking back, what would you do differently? · Select a study partner or group for extra prep outside of class

· Make sure a project had been assigned before class begins

· Do some pre-class research on LSS to be better prepared

· Take more notes to capture all of the information shared

· Get to know my classmates better

·  Get more input from experienced GBs at my firm

· Talk less and get team to talk more

· Think about impact of proposed changes on organization

· Place more emphasis on funding implementation

· Be more formal in terms of Gate Reviews

· Choose project with narrower scope

· Partner with a co-worker to work together in promoting LSS

· Delegate more to team members

· Reach out to TMAC MBBs for coaching support


Here are direct quotes from two different Green Belts about doing things differently:

Looking back, what would you do differently about the class?

“If I had my project picked in advance [of the class], I would have been able to learn better as the questions that came up would have been discussed in class. I was always amazed at the solutions others had when thinking outside the box.”

Looking back, what would you do differently about your project?

“Too many times in the beginning meetings I would talk the whole time. My coach taught me to be more patient and allow the team time to process the information and provide feedback. This brought the team closer together by allowing us to share ideas about the process from each person’s perspective.”

To be successful Green Belts need a mix of different skills including project management, team facilitation, change management, and technical abilities. Each project is unique, and may require more of one skill than another. Finding the right balance is key.


What are your answers to these six questions?

Let us know by sending an email to info@texasleansixsigma.tmac.uta.cloud

More about Russ Aikman:

Russ is the LSS Program Manager at TMAC, and started the program in 2003. He is a Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt with over 30 years of experience working in a wide variety of industries, and with small firms up to Fortune 500 companies. He has taught dozens of LSS classes from Yellow Belt up to Master Black Belt. He has also coached hundreds of LSS practitioners on their projects and advised managers on their LSS program. Before joining TMAC he worked at George Group, the first firm to integrate Lean and Six Sigma.


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