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What Lean Six Sigma Yellow Belts Can Do For Your Organisation

If you’re looking to drive a culture of continuous improvement, then it’s essential to develop the process skills of your people and give them a method to follow – that’s where training people to a Lean Six Sigma Yellow Belt standard comes in. 

A Yellow Belt is able to define their work as a process, to identify the customers of their process and understand their customer requirements, so that they can ensure their process adds value in the most efficient and effective way.  

People who are trained as a Yellow Belt can perform 3 vital roles in your organisation: 

    1.  Be advocates for improvement
    2.   Act as capable and effective team members for your step-change Green Belt or Black Belt improvement projects
    3.   Identify and act upon small improvements to their work processes on an ongoing, incremental basis  
There are some core skills that you can expect your Yellow Belt to possess:
Method
An understanding of Lean Six Sigma, the value it brings to your processes and the approach by which improvements need to be made – including PDSA, DMAIC or PMI’s Improvement Cycle.
Problem Statement
Able to define the problem, what it is you want to improve, and identify in which process the problem presents itself.
SIPOC
Use the SIPOC (Suppliers, Inputs, Process, Outputs, Customers) to establish the scope of the improvement project, define what is adding value, gain agreement on the priority focus for improvement, and keep the team focused on the link between the process and the outcome.
Voice of the Customer
This applies equally to an internal and an external customer – understanding what the customer requires and what they value, using the words of the customer.
Flowcharts
Mapping and flowcharting the process, to agree the steps in a process and who performs them.
8 Wastes
Being able to use the 8 Wastes to identify what can be eliminated from a process to streamline it so that the process becomes efficient whilst still being effective i.e. delivering what the customer requires and values in the most efficient way.
Measures
Both Results Measures, which tell you how closely you are meeting the customer requirements, and Process Measures, which are the upstream steps in the process that will affect the outcome of the process. Understanding that measures are for learning about the process.
Run charts, Pareto, Scatter diagrams
A Yellow Belt will have a selection of tools they can use to analyse data that will help you understand more about the process.
Cause and effect diagram
A way of gathering everyone’s input on possible root causes of the variation you experience in the process.
Standardisation
Creating the standard or ‘best known way’ to perform the process which is agreed by everyone who is involved in the process. It includes suitable documentation, work instructions, step guides, or standard operating procedures. This can deliver unexpected improvements through creating a consistent approach which is adopted by everyone who performs the process.
Review
To define the learning and share with others. To contribute lessons learned to future improvements.

Is your organisation looking to establish a regular cycle of small improvements?  Your Yellow Belts can lead this – add in the Kaizen method to their toolkit, and you potentially have an army of people equipped to establish a frequent, perhaps weekly cycle of Kaizen improvements.   

Never under-estimate the power of developing your people as Yellow Belts – it is a valuable skillset.  Just imagine, if everyone in your organisation had these skills, if everyone was contributing incremental improvements on a regular basis, realising hundreds or thousands of small improvements over the course of a year, what impact would that make? 

Written by Susannah Clarke
Managing Partner
Process Management International

Follow Susannah on LinkedIn.

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