Black Belt Course Outline

Reduce failures, prevent defects, control costs and schedules, and manage risks through an inclusive culture, reflective leadership and engaged staff.

Black Belt Certificate Requirements

  • Pass online Lean Six Sigma Black Belt exam with 80% or better
  • Receive a grade of “pass” from the instructor for Lean Six Sigma Black Belt project
  • Upon successfully passing the Lean Six Sigma Black Belt exam and receiving a grade of “Pass” for the project, participants will obtain Lean Six Sigma Black Belt Certificate from Mercer University

Project Requirements

  • Participants should identify a small issue in an area in their current workplace or environment with which they are familiar to utilize the Lean Six Sigma tools to make improvements
  • Projects should be small in magnitude; however, challenging enough so that Lean Six Sigma tools and techniques are required to identify solutions
  • Project proposals and charters should be submitted and approved by course instructor. Guidance will be provided as to the ideal types of projects and mentoring will be available for project work throughout the course of training
  • Participants must receive a grade of “Pass” from the instructor for the project via submitting recorded presentation of a Lean Six Sigma Black Belt project storyboard
  • The goal of the project is for participants to receive hands-on experience using Lean Six Sigma under the guidance of a mentor
  • Participants will not be rated on the success of the actual project, but how effectively they utilize Lean Six Sigma tools and concepts

Total classroom time is approximately 30 hours. Mercer instructors also provide coaching to participant teams between modules as they develop and implement their pilot programs. Time spent coaching can vary, but is no less than two, one-hour meetings per project team.

The final module for the Black Belt Certification consists of a final project presentation. The Black Belt project parameters involve a timeline of approximately 2-3 months for data collection, greater depth and rigor of analysis, and project teams that include front-line and subject expert coworkers outside of the Black Belt cohort.

Black Belt Program
Module Topics
Module One

Data Analysis

  • Review LSS Foundations
    • What is Six Sigma? What is Lean?
    • Design-Measure-Analyzie-Implement-Control (DMAIC)
    • 8 types of waste, see solve share, A3
  • Design for Six Sigma (DFSS)
    • RFSS and ROI
    • DMAIC v. DMADV (and DCCDI, IDOV)
    • Design for X (DFC) (and Design for Assembly, test, maintainibility)
    • Suppliers, Inputs, Process, Outputs, Customers, (SIPOC)
      • Exercise: In groups, complete an SIPOC example
    • Benchmarking (process and levels)
    • Robust Design (Toguchi Method)
  • Critical to X (CTX)
    • Critical to Quality (CTX)
    • Critical to Quality (CTQ) Flow-Down Chart
    • Critical to (CT) Relational Matrix
      • Exercise: In groups, complete a Relational Matrix exercise
    •  Failure Mode Effect Analysis (FMEA)
      • Exercise: In groups, complete a SIPOC and FMEA chart
  • Team Decision Making and Project Management Tools
    • Brainstorming (diversion and conversion)
    • Nominal Group Technique, Multi-voting, Effort-Impact Technique
  • Management and Planning Tools
    • Affinity Diagrams, Tree Diagrams
    • Process Decision Program Charts (PDPC)
      • Exercise: In groups, complete a PDPC
    • Interrelationship Digraph
    • Prioritization Matrices
  • Business Performance Measures
    • Key performance indicators (KPIs)
    • Financial measures
      • Project financial benefits
      • Cost benefit analysis
      • ROA, ROI, NPV
Module Two

Culture, Risk Analysis, and Statistical Control Processes

  • Just Culture and Leadership Paradigms
    • Mental models, structures, behaviors
    • People v. process approaches
    • What is management? What is leadership?
    • Management as practice
    • Spirit of change
  • Kaizen Events for Problem Solving
    • Kaizen Blitz
    • Implementation strategies
  • Risk Analysis and Mitigation
    • Scenario Planning
    • SWOT analysis
    • PEST analysis
  • Review of Green Belt Stats
    • What is data? What is data-driven decision making?
    • Variable and Attribute data
    • Classification data v. Counts data
  • Data Visualization in Excel
    • Scatter Charts, Run Charts
    • Pareto Charts
    • Box and Whiskers Charts
    • Histograms and Bar Charts
  • Statistical Control Process Charts
    • Standard Deviation, Anscombe’s Quartet
    • SPC Charts – generation, interpretation
    • Upper Control Limits (UCL), Lower Control Limits (LCL)
    • Special Cause and Common Cause
      • Exercise: Individually, generate and analyze several SPC Charts
Module Three

Negotiations, Problem Solving, and Robust Design


  • Conflict as an Asset and Hindrance
    • Negotiation as problem solving technique
    • Recognizing positions from interests
    • Sand traps in negotiations (winner’s curse, agreement bias, lose-lose negotiation)
  • Team Communication
    • Separating people from the problem
    • Setting team rules
    • Saying “no” without closing the door
    • The importance of asking for help
  • Business Communications – Managerial Effectiveness and Interpersonal Mediation
    • How to run an effective meeting
    • How to send effective emails
    • Cognitive closure and interpersonal communication
    • One Minute Manager – praise and reprimand
  • Fundamentals of Negotiations/Problem Solving
    • Distributive negotiations v. Integrative negotiations
    • Best Alternative to Negotiated Agreement (BATNA)
    • Reservation and aspiration points
    • Making first offers, concessions and package deals
    • Recognizing the Zone of Potential Agreement (ZOPA)
      • Exercise: One-on-one distributive negotiation and debrief
      • Exercise: Team-on-team integrative negotiation and debrief
  • Advanced Negotiation/Problem Solving Techniques and Concepts
    • Gender norms and negotiations
    • Overcoming power asymmetry in problem solving contexts
    • Handling situations where the alternative is a WATNA
    • Management as mediation
Module Four

System Thinking and Statistical Control Processes

  • Identify “Habits of a Systems Thinker”
    • Iceberg model of systems – a multi-layered approach
    • Mental models and system thinking paradigms
    • Recognizing behaviors of silo and system thinkers
    • Developing local and global strategies to improve systems thinking
      • Simulation game on managing workflow
  • Data Driven Analysis in System Thinking
    • Force field analysis
    • T-grid and brainstorming exercises
    • Recognizing system structure generates its behavior
    • 13 habits of a systems thinker
      • Case study: What happens when we act as a system in the industry
  • Exercise: Half-Day Team Activity Combining BB Qualitative and Quantitative Skills Three-part putting range experiment, requiring iterative improvements, statistical calculations, SPC generation and interpretation, and presentation
    • Brainstorming, Force Field Analysis, SIPOC
    • Calculation descriptive statistics
    • Calculate upper control limit (UCL) and lower control limit (LCL)
    • Developing SPC charts
    • XmR chart, p-Charts and graphing
Module Five

Final Project Presentations

  • Evaluations of Project Pilot and Hypothesis Testing
    • Assess financial benefits of the project
    • Determine success of increasing value-added processes
    • Consider the match between the project and firm strategy
  • Analyze Leadership, Team, and Cultural Issues
    • Consider change implementation plan and Kaizen events (“change for the better”)
    • Discuss communication and persuasion difficulties during pilot
    • Create improvement plan for continuous leadership, team, and company culture change
  • Develop a Monitoring and Response Plan for Continuous Improvement
    • Identify the future state map of the process
    • Development of the next pilot or implementation of initial pilot project