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Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belts Play a Critical Role in Organizational Strategy

Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belts Play a Critical Role in Organizational Strategy

Team leader discusses a project with their team in an office.

Last Updated March 8, 2024

Leadership in the modern business world is complex. Upper-level management is tasked not only with developing and implementing successful strategy, but also providing an example for others to emulate, and creating an organizational culture that embraces continuous process improvement.

A Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt offers organizational leaders the knowledge and skills to operate at the highest level in these areas. Master Black Belts understand the nature of process improvement tools and how to best implement them company wide.

“As a Master Black Belt, you are able to motivate more people and are seen as an internal consultant,” said Tina Agustiady, a Certified Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt, award-winning author and thought leader, and adjunct professor in Villanova University’s College of Professional Studies.

“High-level leaders and stakeholders will come to you for advice and guidance. You will be able to utilize your data analytical skills to drive them towards making the right decisions that can be backed up with statistics,” she said.

Responsibilities of a Master Black Belt

Professionals who earn the Master Black Belt credential have reached the pinnacle of training in Six Sigma, which uses a color belt system like the one used in martial arts. The other belt designations, from the lowest to highest, are White, Yellow, Green and Black.

Attaining a Master Black Belt signifies extensive training and testing, as well as experience leading successful Six Sigma project teams. Master Black Belts have mastered Six Sigma concepts and strategies and apply them with discipline, focus and skill. 

Master Black Belts rarely lead individual teams. Rather, as mentioned by Agustiady, they act as internal consultants for multiple projects, helping them to overcome obstacles. They also mentor the Black Belts and Green Belts who lead project teams and provide communication between project teams and executives.

As taught in Villanova’s Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt course, Master Black Belts are recommended to use high traffic areas in an office to post information about metrics, goals, projects and teams. The objective is to practice effective communication by keeping all levels of an organization informed at all times.

The Role of a Master Black Belt in Company Culture

One of the most important roles played by a Master Black Belt is being a role model for employees.

According to instructor Steven Babb, MS, CLSSMBB in the Master Black Belt course: “You (as the Master Black Belt) are reflecting what the future of your organization needs to be. People will look at you and act like you, they’ll learn from you. You’ll be their best example. How you operate as a Master Black Belt is going to have a big reflection on the organizational culture you are trying to achieve.”

Babb suggested Master Black Belts ask themselves one question every day: Will the Lean Six Sigma initiative ensure that the organization will meet its objectives? If it does not, it is the Master Black Belt’s responsibility to change the plan, so it meets business goals, and then communicate this strategy throughout the organization.

Master Black Belt Certification

Success in the Master Black Belt role requires technical proficiency and leadership ability. Villanova’s Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt course focuses on creating those kinds of leaders and preparing them for efficiently developing Lean Six Sigma strategy within the business.

Agustiady said leaders are drawn to earning a Master Black Belt credential because “the ability to move an organization in the right direction will stem from Master Black Belts due to the fact that they can lead people to the right direction with data to back them up.”

In addition to its Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt course, Villanova administers a Master Black Belt certification 100% online, as part of the course package. The University also offers certification exams in Green Belt, Black Belt and Lean Sensei. The requirements for earning Villanova certification include completing the corresponding online course and passing the separate certification exam with a score of 70 or better*.  

The Master Black Belt course and corresponding certification exam helps provide students with the knowledge and skills to consult with Lean Six Sigma project leaders, change corporate culture and implement strategic quality planning. As a Master Black Belt, professionals will work to align strategies and tactics and ensure an organization meets its objectives.

*To be eligible for Villanova University’s Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt course and certification exam, candidates must complete Villanova’s Lean Six Sigma Black Belt course as a prerequisite. If a candidate holds a Black Belt credential from another organization, this may be considered as a prerequisite with University approval.