Key Six Sigma Roles - Six Sigma

One of the ‘Six Triumphs’ of Six Sigma cited by Goh (2010) is the clear assignment of roles and responsibilities within the initiative. Although the mantra of quality is everyone’s responsibility’ is correct in principle, the Six Sigma approach adds some focus in assigning specific roles to certain job titles.

Steering Team

Generally chaired by CEO and containing members (ideally all) of the senior team. As the team responsible for the strategic cycle they need to:

  • Lead the Six Sigma transformation by generating vision and mission and linking this to the programme in a visible manner.
  • Monitor and motivate the progress of projects.
  • Have an integrated view of the projects and their links to strategic objectives.
  • Co-ordinate cross-functional activities such as training.


This role is a non - executive role within the project team; the champion is a senior manager who supports the project and provides a bridge to the steering team (and hence the strategic cycle).

Champion links the strategic and tactical cycles (Adapted from Knowles et al, 2005)

The most important role of the champion is to address barriers that are beyond the teams authority or scope. This is important to ensure teams feel supported and do not lose momentum. They will also be held responsible for this aspect of the project as well as the effective operation of the team (although not the outcomes).

Master Black Belt

As experienced and successful Black Belts the role of the Master Black Belt is to provide subject leadership and project mentoring to the Black Belts and Green Belts running projects.They also liaise with Champions to provide effective support.

Black Belt / Green Belt

Lead the project team in improving the process. Responsible for delivery of the project outcomes and for facilitating the team through the application of the DMAIC process. According to Keller (2001) the characteristics of a successful Black Belt include:

  • Positivehinkers: Upbeat and optimistic about programme success. Self - confident without being overbearing or defensive.
  • Risk Takers: Comfortable as change agents, happy to be leading, pleased to be at the leading edge of change.
  • Good Communicators: As the technical hub of the team they need to communicate details of tools to less well trained individuals. More importantly change is difficult for both team members and the Black Belt will need to listen to concerns and respond positively to ensure buy - in to the project methods and outcomes.
  • Respected by Peers: Credibility is key.
  • Leaders: They are central players in the improvement and need to accept the leadership role.

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