Critical assessment on the Six Sigma Black Belt roles/ responsibilities, skills and training: a global empirical study

Jiju Antony ( Heriot-Watt University Edinburgh United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland )
Harry Karaminas ( University of Strathclyde Glasgow United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland )

International Journal of Quality & Reliability Management

ISSN: 0265-671X

Publication date: 10 March 2016



The purpose of this paper is to present the results of the first global empirical study on the roles/ responsibilities and skills of Six Sigma Black Belts (SSBBs), followed by the most recent trends on an effective Black Belt (BB) training curriculum.


The study is based on a survey questionnaire which was designed and distributed to (primarily) SSBBs around the world. A total of 105 responses from 14 different countries were received.


The results of the study show that change agent and advocate on the use of statistical tools are being considered as the most significant roles that a Black Belt undertakes. Additionally, analytical skills followed by expertise in Six Sigma method (DMAIC) along with all the related tools and techniques top the ranking with the most important skills that BBs should acquire. In terms of BB training, basic statistics appears to be the most important prerequisite, while the inclusion of soft skills in the BB curricula is being strongly supported. Finally, a consultation session after the formal training appears to be highly desired.

Practical implications

This study identifies the roles/ responsibilities that BBs should hold in organisations operating in the 21st century and the skills they should acquire. The findings are presented as a set of criteria on how to develop the world class Black Belts of the future. Companies and recruitment agencies could benefit from spotting the most talented BBs, resulting in cost savings in the recruiting and training processes.


Contribution is being made by identifying the most commonly cited roles/ responsibilities in the literature and comparing them to the practitioners’ views. A comparison on the characteristics of the currently provided BB training curricula and those of the best possible training program is also presented.


Antony, J. and Karaminas, H. (2016), "Critical assessment on the Six Sigma Black Belt roles/ responsibilities, skills and training: a global empirical study", International Journal of Quality & Reliability Management, Vol. 33 No. 5.

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