About Selecting Good Green Belt Projects

About Selecting Good Green Belt Projects

We train Green Belts to systematically work with methods and tools, to improve complex processes, to solve sophisticated problems and for driving a culture of data- & facts-based decision taking. This training is a great enabler for leadership roles.

You potentially need more than one method to tackle a “Green Belt Project” and at the project outset, it is not clear which method and sequence of tools to use. All companies face these types of problems and challenges. Consequently, we train Green Belts: they are the ones who will work systematically, picking techniques from a proven and powerful toolbox.

Simply learning the approach and the tools is not sufficient; it is also important to gain experience applying the tools. The training builds the foundation for practical competence. Accordingly, all Green Belts need to lead a Green Belt project in parallel to their training. They will be tasked with a mission to apply the tools (hard stuff), with the teams they don’t formally manage (soft stuff). Running the projects in parallel with the training enables timely feedback and supports the learning experience.

So, what makes a good Green Belt project?

Based on the need for a problem that requires the application of several methods & tools, we’ve derived the following project selection criteria:

  1. The solution to the problem is opaque. Meaning, the solution to this problem/challenge it is NOT evident.
    Moreover, the project cannot simply be about implementing an already-known solution. A litmus test: the answer to the question “how can we solve this issue?” should be a feeling of: “We have no clue how to solve this problem. We understand the challenge, but we do not know how to tackle it.”
  2. The problem/situation requires further investigation. Some of the analytical Lean Six Sigma tools will be required.

We want to support our trainees in achieving results and being successful. Green Belts should have the time to oversee their projects and learn how the application of the method generates deliverables. Let’s also consider the following when selecting the project:

  1. It should be possible to complete the project within three-to-six months; implementation of improvements should be possible within 3-6 months. The last phase of a Green Belt Project is always the Control phase, in which the Green Belt must prove that the results are sustainable. This phase may exceed this 3-6 month window.

If you believe your project idea will definitely take longer, then scope it more narrowly.

Helpful Hint: Given that Green Belts focus on process improvement, if you are considering processes that do not cycle often, e.g. annual accounts, or. a product that is only produced once a year, it will be impossible to develop and prove a solution within three months.

  1. Thus, it is important that the process in focus cycles often.

So far, we have considered criteria to ensure abundant learning on the project. Even more important from our experience is to select projects according to business needs. Pursuing a Green Belt project will demonstrate to both the trainees and to the organization that Lean Six Sigma is an effective approach for mastering problems…NOT simply a nice-to-have toolkit to apply to non-relevant problems. Our advice is to:

  1. Select projects based on clearly-defined, relevant business issues that are crucial to the organization.
  2. Select problems which need to be tackled regardless of the Green Belt program.

Selecting relevant, crucial business issues that need to be solved regardless of the Green Belt program will ideally contribute to both supporting the Green Belt’s attention on the project and to avoiding a mid-stream change in priorities. You want a project that the organization cares about solving.

  1. The project sponsor must be committed to project success.

We have a great track record of successful Green Belt projects for which project success was well aligned with the sponsor’s goals.

Following this criteria will help prepare you very well for your Green Belt projects. That said, we know that real-life priorities can change for good reasons. And often new discoveries during a project lead to rethinking the project definition. Our approach and the Lean Six Sigma Toolbox will also help to master such changes and redefinitions of a Green Belt project.

Good luck with your Green Belt Projects and have fun! Do not hesitate to contact us if you would like to discuss a specific challenge!

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