The Continuous Improvement Blog

Lean and Six Sigma Belts, Champions and Executives explained

Written by Colin McArdle on 24 Jan 2018


There are a number of roles and responsibilities involved in Lean and Six Sigma.

If you’re looking into adopting a Lean and Six Sigma approach for your organisation, you’ve probably come across the terms ‘black belts’, ‘master black belts’ and ‘green belts’. But they are only part of the picture. You also need organisational support.

In this blog post, we give you a rundown of the roles and responsibilities needed to make Lean and Six Sigma happen.


The role of the Executive is to own, drive, and inspire the Lean and Six Sigma programme. They tend to be a senior-level executive and will hold ultimate accountability for the success of the programme.

Their key responsibilities include:

  • Establishing the strategic focus in line with the company vision and culture
  • Identifying greatest areas of opportunity at the business unit level and across the business
  • Establishing how Lean and Six Sigma will become ‘business as usual’
  • Selecting internal resource (e.g. Black Belts, Green Belts etc.)

As the driver of the initiative, it’s important that Executives lead by example with clear and consistent messaging. As well as a commitment to ‘walking-the-talk’.


Champions work alongside Executives to organise and implement Lean and Six Sigma deployment. They hold overall responsibility for maintaining and prioritising potential projects.

Other key responsibilities include:

  • Leading the discussion with Executives to select projects, assign project sponsors, and ensure potential benefits are captured
  • Developing deployment plans and sharing them across the organisation to ensure adherence
  • Ensuring appropriate processes are in place to select, train, develop and utilise Lean and Six Sigma resources
  • Communicating standards and guidelines across the organisation

Project Sponsor

The Project Sponsor works alongside the Executive and Champion. They are accountable for the business results being addressed by the defined Lean and Six Sigma project.

They play a key role in identifying the business gap or opportunity, defining and initiating projects, and identifying the right Black and Green Belts to lead them. They conduct ongoing review and inspection of project progress, remove barriers and provide resource for implementing process improvements. They are accountable for capturing and sustaining improvement results.

Master Black Belt

A Master Black Belt is a highly experienced Black belt who is involved in managing Lean and Six Sigma projects and helping Champions keep initiatives on track. They also work closely with the Process Owner responsible for the process the project is targeting.

Their key responsibilities include:

  • Providing strategic direction and developing key metrics
  • Training and mentoring Black Belts and Green Belts
  • Identifying and propagating best practices
  • Conducting detailed project reviews to ensure appropriate tools and techniques are applied

Black Belt

A Black Belt acts as a team leader on Lean and Six Sigma projects. They work full-time on a project until its completion. They will typically have had four to five weeks of classroom training in tools and techniques, and can also perform Green belt training and coaching.

Green Belt

A Green Belt is involved in Lean and Six Sigma projects, supporting the Black belt on bigger projects, or leading teams on smaller projects. They spend part of their time on projects, whilst maintaining their regular role and responsibilities the rest of the time. Typically, they will have had two to three weeks of classroom training.

Yellow Belt

A Yellow Belt will participate as a project team member, working mostly with the Green Belt and Black Belt. They will have had training on the foundational elements of Lean and Six Sigma.

Process Owner

The Process Owner is exactly that - the owner of the process being targeted for a Lean and Six Sigma project. The Process Owner may participate by gathering data, implementing solutions, and identifying other project opportunities. And they are responsible for ensuring ongoing results.

While they have general awareness of Lean and Six Sigma, often they will have had no formal training.  

Other team members

Other members of the organisation may be involved in a Lean and Six Sigma project. This may include Lean practitioners who have had introductory training on Lean methods. Or it may include others within the business with knowledge relevant to the specific project. A stakeholder or customer may also be involved as an advisor if it could benefit the project.


How you build your Lean and Six Sigma team is important. They are the engine that will keep the whole project running. To make sure your team work effectively together you need to ensure there is a focused set of objectives with everyone aligned to the same goals. There needs to be strong leadership and a clear understanding of tasks and what each team member is responsible for. And it's not just about selecting the right Lean and Six Sigma belts, you need the right leadership team in place too.

Your team may differ from project to project to meet specific needs. However, the Executive should maintain overall accountability and the Champion overall responsibility for the entire Lean and Six Sigma programme.

If you want to find out about the Lean and Six Sigma training offered by Kaizen Kulture, click here. Or for more detail, get in touch.


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Topics: Business Improvement, six sigma, lean

Colin McArdle

Written by Colin McArdle

Colin McArdle, the Founder and Managing Director of Kaizen Kulture is a Lean and Six Sigma Master Black Belt who has over 30 years industry experience. Kaizen Kulture's mission is to be true to the ethos of continuous improvement.