Like the Green Belt program, the Black Belt program provides intensive, coach-supported training that equips participants with the project management, analytical, and process improvement skills they need to make waves within their organization. “The Black Belt program then takes the Green Belt program to the next level by turning process experts into change agents,” explains Alex Boussetta, a Certified Six Sigma Master Black Belt who has taught Lean Six Sigma at McGill for nearly 20 years.
While the Green Belt program is geared toward mid-level managers and employees who aspire to become managers, the Black Belt program is tailored to high-level executives with a mandate to identify projects, processes, and initiatives that will transform their organization. “Black Belts are linking everything they learn in our program back to their organizational strategy,” says Boussetta. “In doing so, they find ways to catalyze change within their organizations even where there is resistance.”
Following the numbers
As a primary strategy for advancing change, the Lean Six Sigma Black Belt program equips leaders with analytic tools and strategies to identify roadblocks and chart a path forward. “At the Black Belt level, our participants solidify their expertise in data and analytics,” shares Boussetta. Each participant begins the program with a specific project to complete with the help of coaching, practical exercises; and access to Minitab, a leading software for statistical analysis.
“We often have people coming in with a plan to invest heavily in new technology, whether it’s expensive new medical equipment or an automated system,” says Bousetta. “Instead of encouraging them to spend that money right off the bat, we help them improve results through using data analysis and statistics to fully understand their internal processes.”
As AI and machine learning add a new dimension to data analysis, Lean Six Sigma Black Belt has evolved to give participants exposure to the field. “The other tools we provide are often sufficient, but if our participants need to go a step further, there are AI and machine learning tools they can bring back to their management teams,” says Boussetta. “We teach them enough to be dangerous.” Montreal’s rising prominence as a global AI and machine learning hub makes McGill particularly well-equipped to support the addition to the program. Currently, McGill is the only university in Canada whose Black Belt program includes an AI and machine learning component.
Embracing the challenge
As the Senior Change Management Lead at a Canadian transportation company, Sabrina Messomanah spearheads organizational change management initiatives for a living. She signed up for the Black Belt program soon after earning her Green Belt certification. “When I returned from earning the Green Belt, I had a brand new framework to apply to the projects I was managing,” she remembers. “At the time, the training I received transferred perfectly to an enterprise lean rollout within my company. I enrolled in the Black Belt program to take a deeper dive into the concepts I found so useful.”
While Messomanah found the Black Belt program’s emphasis on data analysis intimidating at first, she rose to the challenge. “I’m not really a statistics person, but Alex made the course seamless and interesting by using case studies and practical teamwork exercises,” she shares. “Without a doubt, the opportunity to get hands-on experience alongside people from different professional backgrounds was the highlight for me.”
Before earning her Black Belt certification, Messomanah shield away from using sophisticated analytics tools to visualize and analyze the data she captured for every project. “I was missing the ability to demonstrate the benefits and value of my projects,” she acknowledges. “Black Belt helped me learn how to use Minitab and other tools to visualize data and apply statistics to the change management process.”
To meet the project requirement of the Black Belt program, Messomanah developed a project to establish new standards and processes for a specific department within her organization in a bid to improve customer service and create new efficiencies. “Previously, we had several staff members going in and doing every job,” she says. “Using techniques from Black Belt, I went in and measured how our staff members organized their days and completed each task in order to create defined checklists, streamline processes, and avoid duplication.”
“Thanks to Black Belt, I can play a role in transforming the way we work,” Messomanah affirms.