Book Review: The Certified Six Sigma Green Belt Handbook, ISBN 978-0-87389-891-1

Printed by ASQ Quality Press and authored by Roderick A. Munro, Govindarajan Ramu, and Daniel J. Zrymiak, this is a high-quality addition to the world of Six Sigma publications.  For this book the authors have focused specifically on the role of the Six Sigma Green belt, providing the needed knowledge for the role, and to help those interested in passing the American Society for Quality’s (ASQ) certification exam.  It follows the American Society for Quality Body of Knowledge (BoK) for the Certified Six Sigma Green Belt (CSSGB) updated in 2014.

The Certified Six Sigma Green Belt Handbook

With a combined 23 chapters, this book covers just about everything a Six Sigma Green Belt would ever want to know!  The chapter breakdown includes:

  • Chapter 1 Six Sigma and Organizational Goals
  • Chapter 2 Lean Principles in the Organization
  • Chapter 3 Design for Six Sigma (DFSS) Methodologies
  • Chapter 4 Project Identification
  • Chapter 5 Voice of the Customer (VOC)
  • Chapter 6 Project Management Basics
  • Chapter 7 Management and Planning Tools
  • Chapter 8 Business Results for Projects
  • Chapter 9 Team Dynamics and Performance
  • Chapter 10 Process Analysis and Documentation
  • Chapter 11 Probability and Statistics
  • Chapter 12 Statistical Distributions
  • Chapter 13 Collecting and Summarizing Data
  • Chapter 14 Measurement System Analysis
  • Chapter 15 Process and Performance Capability
  • Chapter 16 Exploratory Data Analysis
  • Chapter 17 Hypothesis Testing
  • Chapter 18 Design of Experiments (DOE)
  • Chapter 19 Root Cause Analysis
  • Chapter 20 Lean Tools
  • Chapter 21 Statistical Process Control (SPC)
  • Chapter 22 Control Plan
  • Chapter 23 Lean Tools for Process Control

In this review we’re going to break down a few chapters to help you determine if this book should be one of your go-to guides for your next Six Sigma project.  The chapters we’ll be looking at in-depth are Chapter 4 Project Identification, Chapter 10 Process Analysis and Documentation, Chapter 19 Root Cause Analysis.

Chapter 4 Project Identification

The selection process is critical for Lean Six Sigma implantation success.  We’ve seen many projects fail because the project Champion didn’t fully understand the project scope, or the nature of the problem they were trying to address.  The authors do a nice job of explaining project selection, they explain it like this: “When looking for Six Sigma projects, there will usually be more ideas than it is possible to undertake at one time. Some sort of project proposal format may be needed, along with an associated process for project selection. If your organization does not already have a selection process in place, use of some basic tools such as advanced quality planning and quality function deployment may be useful in setting up a selection process.

The furthering of organizational goals as a key element when developing a project.  Leaders must have a clear problem definition and have key executive supporters.  Processes are often made up of smaller subprocesses.  A Process diagram/model is shown to illustrate the authors points and makes the explanation clear and concise.  This section also covers benchmarking, process inputs and outputs, and key elements of the Define stage of DMAIC.  Forms and diagrams for this stage are also included, like the SIPOC diagram.

Chapter 10, Process Analysis and Documentation

The next section we review is Chapter 10, Process Analysis and Documentation.  The chapter starts by discussing process maps and flowcharts by stating: “ISO 9000 (Quality management systems—Fundamentals and vocabulary) defines a process as a set of interrelated or interacting activities that transforms inputs into outputs. A process is easily understood by visually presenting the process using common flowcharting shapes and symbols. Practitioners use process mapping and flowcharting interchangeably, however, there are differences. Namely, process mapping includes additional process details with the flowchart. Organizations often send their process information in the form of process map documentation to their suppliers and customers for contractual reasons. From my personal experience, I have seen Japanese organizations use process maps and flowcharts more extensively. They call it “QC process flow.” It is typically an end-to-end process flow starting from contract review and approval through to delivery of goods. The flowchart is presented at the left of the page, continuously running for multiple pages in one column, and the space on the right is utilized to describe the process, responsibility, control points, metrics, and so on.”  This explains the subject well and sets the reader up for success by clearly defining the concept.

The basics of creating a Flowchart, with the associated symbols are explained here.  Since this is primarily used during the Measure stage of DMAIC, the author also covers the basic tasks of this stage.  Written procedures and work instructions are discussed, with procedures written to describe what is done during the process, why it is done, where it is done (location/process step), and when it is done (the trigger).  Process Inputs and Outputs are described in simple terms that even new Six Sigma practitioners will understand.  Examples of inputs include needs, ideas and expectations, while outputs are described as decisions, results, and measurements.  A great example of a Cause-and-effect diagram after a few steps of a brainstorming session is also included.  One small inclusion that no one in the Management and Strategy Institute review department had seen before was CEDAC.  According to the author: (pg 162) “CEDAC (cause-and-effect diagram with the addition of cards) is an alternative approach tried out by some organizations, where the fishbone diagram is displayed on a huge wall or board, and employees are encouraged to identify causes by writing on it or using sticky notes. The success of this approach depends on organizational culture and communication.”  If you purchase this book, we suggest reviewing this section to see if the CEDAC process may help your organization when brainstorming.

Chapter 19, Root Cause Analysis

Finally, we take a look at Chapter 19, Root Cause Analysis.  Most Six Sigma books cover this topic for obvious reasons, however we found that The Certified Six Sigma Green Belt Handbook does a better job then most when it comes to explaining the concept.  The chapter starts by stating: “Solving problems and preventing their recurrence are capabilities that reinforce the importance of effective quality methods. Quality practices are used to investigate and improve quality deficiencies, plan for successful projects and business commitments, and review resource constraints to identify inefficiencies. As the problem-solving and troubleshooting experiences are incorporated into the overall quality program and organizational knowledge base, tollgates and validations can be applied to processes in order to capture and report quality problems. This helps to provide the input data needed for effective problem-solving.”  This simple but straight-forward explanation gets to the heart of root cause analysis and gives the reader a clear understanding of the topic.  They talk about a number of techniques, including eight discipline (8D).  This employs use a team approach, describe the problem, start and check interim actions, define and check root causes, check corrective action, start permanent corrective action, stop future problems, congratulate the team.  The seven phases of root cause are broken down as:  Identify the Opportunity, Analyze the Current Process, Develop the Optimal Solution(s), Implement Changes, Study the Results, Standardize the Solution, Plan for the Future (Effectiveness Assessment).

Figures & Tables Galor

The final note we’ll make regarding this book is the vast number of tables & figures they include.  Want to see modern quality cost curves?  It’s included.  How about sample DFMEA headers?  It’s included.  In fact there is roughly 160 pages of useful tables, charts, and graphs for a Six Sigma Black Belt to use and apply during a project.  Much more than we see in most Six Sigma books.

This book will help you prepare for the following certifications: