Yellow Belts – Worth a Fresh Look?
Why? Well, I really dont think the need ever waned, but there are a lot of new things happening, specifically with technology, that have the potential to put business process management and formal improvement at the top of both business and IT leaders priorities. While beyond the scope of this article, spend a little time looking at the new generation of BPM software (BPMS), the interest and investment in BigData, and software trends like SOA and I bet youll come to the same conclusion I have process skills are becoming more and more critical to the success of enterprise.
Based on whats happened over the last few years, many companies are finding that those skills are simply not there, or have gone dormant. So, how do you develop or re-energize the capability? Now, here is where we have to stay real.
The way companies are willing to build out organizational capability has clearly changed, based on my experience. Big, top-heavy initiatives that push broad knowledge into the enterprise (the firehose approach) have been largely replaced with agile, practical thinking that says you pull right-fit capability into the organization, at the right-time. Deliver exactly whats needed, exactly when its needed, and execute in a way that delivers immediate ROI in the form of quantifiable business performance results. Thats the new reality.
I whole-heartedly agree with the agile, pull-based approach to organizational learning. That being said, when building anything, you still have to start with a foundation a base that you can continue to build upon as needed. So, what should that foundation business process capability be?
Do you really need a large segment of people to be certified Black Belts, or even Green Belts, that specialize in deep statistical analysis? Does everyone need to be a Lean Expert? Does everyone need to have process design and DFSS skills? I think not.
This caused me to go back and took a hard look at our trusty old Yellow Belt skillset and, you know what it just might serve as that nice foundation. Yellow Belts, in the not-so-old days, were thought of as supporters of Black Belts and Green Belts. But I think that skillset can stand and deliver on its own.
(As a disclaimer, there is really no standard out there for yellow belt. Im talking about our (Qualtecs) definition of a yellow belt skillset.)
So, what should well-trained Yellow Belts be able to do?
- Map out and validate as-is processes, from a variety of perspectives
- Identify waste and excess complexity in the process
- Understand VOC and how a process delivers (or doesnt deliver) value from the customers perspective
- Evaluate and quantify what a problem is really costing, the cost of poor quality (COPQ)
- Define and scope projects
- Use a structured, data-driven approach for problem solving
- Recognize different types of data, plan for collection
- Analyze a variety of data to get to root causes of problems
- Support identification of right-fit solutions, and support implementation
- Put in the proper process control mechanisms to monitor performance and sustain improvements over time
- Etc, etc
Not bad. Its something thats broadly applicable in the organization, in any process or area, and immediately usable for just about anyone in the enterprise. It also establishes that nice, solid foundation that advanced capabilities can be built upon when needed.
So, you may want to give Yellow Belt a new look, if youre looking to establish process capability in your organization. Contact me if you want more info or would like to discuss in more detail .