Most Six Sigma institutes don’t bother with White Belt (a very low level introduction to Lean Six Sigma), in fact there is some debate as to whether it should exist at all. Many organizations don’t use White Belts as part of their programme, and in their training go straight to Yellow Belt (and some even use Green Belt as their entry level).
It is expected that you should be able to get to it very quickly (between an hour to a day) so it is the quickest of the courses. There is a large variety in how much training companies charge, from very little (or occasionally actually nothing) to hundreds of dollars, so make sure you shop around.
White Belt is a basic grounding in Six Sigma, and introduces the concepts in an overview. Its target market is people in your organization who may work with Six Sigma practitioners, but who won’t actually do any work on the projects themselves.
It will help them understand the process a bit more, and the aim is mostly to improve buy-in in parts of the organization which won’t be directly involved, but who may otherwise be tempted to introduce obstacles. It can also be used for management who may get less involved in the day-to-day, although it is likely that they will want a higher level of training so that they can help guide the changes in the business.
The other use is for individuals who want to get involved, but don’t want to commit to a large expenditure before they know it’s for them (as they may not have the budget even for Yellow Belt if it’s something they’re not going to use). This was how I got involved – I’d done some Six Sigma at work but no training, so did a white belt course to see whether I wanted to get fully trained.
WHAT WILL YOU LEARN?
The white belt is just a fairly quick overview of Six Sigma; it will depend on the course, but you will typically learn:
- The history of Six Sigma
- What Six Sigma is trying to achieve
- The basics of DMAIC, the process improvement framework
- Potentially some basic tools, like flowcharts for mapping processes, and how to reduce waste (the basics of Lean)
IS IT WORTH IT?
If you can get it for free (or virtually free) then I think it’s worth it on a personal level; it gives you a little insight into Six Sigma and lets you know whether it’s for you. If it’s part of a company roll out though, it’s too low a level, and I’d recommend the yellow belt be used instead.
To be honest, anything you learn past the very basics will be forgotten a couple of weeks later, as it’s too quick to have any lasting impact. If you’re decided to get involved in Six Sigma, go for Green Belt (or Black Belt) if you can, as these will give you the knowledge that you can actually use in your day to day life. This however can be a cheap way to stop you from wasting large amounts of money on a longer course if Six Sigma isn’t for you.
HOW DO I BECOME A WHITE BELT?
Given the length of the course (short), it should be relatively easy to pick up a White Belt certification, either through your workplace or online. There’s currently a free white belt course and exam from the Aveta Business Institute.
White Belt courses usually are from an hour to one day of training, with a certification exam at the end.