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Investing time, money and effort into Yellow Belt Training & Certification is a great way to educate employees on continuous improvement concepts, tools and application. But what about after certification? Most Yellow Belts suffer from the waste of non-utilized talent.

In this 1-hour Introductory Webinar, we’ll discuss how organizations can better utilize and engage certified Yellow Belts and their talents.

Webinar Level

  • Introductory


In this 1-hour Introductory Webinar, we will cover:

Webinar Transcript

Elisabeth Swan: Hello and welcome to another webinar. We are happy to have you guys join us today. This webinar is a series for you, our learner community. Lean and Six Sigma are the worldwide go-to improvement methods. And these webinars are part of our efforts to make it easy for you to use these tools and concepts.

My name is Elisabeth Swan and I’ll be your moderator. Today’s webinar is 5 Ways to Engage Yellow Belts in Applying Their Skills After Certification. And today’s presenter is Tracy O’Rourke. Welcome, Tracy.

Tracy O’Rourke: Thank you. Hi everybody!

About Our Presenter

Elisabeth Swan: Tracy is Managing Partner at She is also the co-author of The Problem-Solver’s Toolkit. And she is also a co-host of the Just-In-Time Café Podcast. She teaches Lean Six Sigma at both UC San Diego and San Diego State University. She is a long-time Lean Six Sigma consultant and Master Black Belt.

Aside from over 20 years in the business, Tracy speaks at Lean Six Sigma conferences around the country. Tracy lives in San Diego, California with her husband and her two sons and sometimes she runs races in costumes. Welcome, Tracy.

Tracy O’Rourke: Thank you. No races scheduled in the near future.

Elisabeth Swan: Good. You’re busy. During the presentation, you will all be in listen-only mode. There will be a question and answer session following the presentation but please feel free to ask questions any time by entering them into the question window. If they are technical, you will probably get an answer right away. If it’s something for the host, for Tracy, we might take a while to get to the end for her to answer it.

How to Interact

We will also ask you to participate in some polls. And if we don’t answer all your questions during the webinar, we will definitely post answers to every question asked on the webinar. You will be able to see answers to all the questions. And, this is important, you will be able to download this webinar once it’s posted. So everybody can get a copy of the webinar.

Now, our first interactive poll is to find out where all of you are from. So we got a hundreds of attendees today. People are joining us from all over the world and we’d like to find out from where. So click on Question and type in where are from. I’m guessing some of you are up early, some of you are up very late. So let’s find out.

Where Are You From?

Let me see what people are saying. OK. We have Lisa in Texas. We’ve got Tino. Hey, it’s Tino in San Diego, Tracy.

Tracy O’Rourke: Hey, Tino!

Elisabeth Swan: We’ve got Noli in Calgary. We’ve got Megan in Nebraska. Shamika is in Lafayette, Louisiana and Falls Church, Virginia. We’ve got Jim in Chowchilla, California. We’ve got all over the place, Tracy. We’ve got a lovely group here.

Over to you, Tracy. You’ve got a great group.

Tracy O’Rourke: All right. Thanks for the warm introduction. Welcome, everybody. Thanks for joining us today.

Who is

So first, we will tell you a little bit about who is just in case you haven’t heard from us yet or heard about us, but I think you have since you’re on the webinar. But we really try to make it easy for everyone everywhere to build their problem-solving muscles. We believe that complex concepts just confuse people. We want training to be effective, practical, accessible, and enjoyable. What a concept.

And so, we really work hard to really bring all of that to our learners. It’s our mission to transform how people learn about Lean Six Sigma and we want to share it with you. And I think that this webinar in particular really does talk about how transformation of training is really our goal and our mission.

We’ve Helped People From…

All right. And guess what? There are a lot of organizations that agree with us and our philosophy because as you can see from this slide, there are all kinds of organizations using our products. We have over 8,000 customers. We have brick and mortar, online, local and global companies and organizations with diverse industries like financial services, healthcare, mortgage, manufacturing, state government, and cars. Woohoo!

Organizations never run out of problems to solve and we always need problem-solvers.

And so guess what? Organizations never run out of problems to solve and we always need problem-solvers. They are always looking for good problem-solvers. That skill will never become obsolete. And this is why Lean Six Sigma is so popular and successful because it does help organizations build better problem-solving organizations.

Today’s Agenda

So let’s talk a little bit about our agenda. So today, we are really going to be talking about again, 5 ways to engage Yellow Belts in applying their skills and we’re really going to talk briefly about what a Yellow Belt is. We’re going to talk a little bit about an approach that will free up internal resources that are being utilized in training so that we can support Yellow Belts a little bit better. It’s called the Flipped Classroom Approach. I would not spend a lot of time on that but I will give you a little insight to that approach that we’re thinking is working well for people and then also some specific actions that a Yellow Belt could do after Yellow Belt training. So we will help you figure out and facilitate some of that.

Some of the concepts that Yellow Belts are going to learn in Yellow Belt Training typically, we call them Yellow Belt level tools or skills, SIPOCs, fishbone diagrams, 5S, standard work. All of these tools and concepts can be applied immediately after Yellow Belt and really, it’s just providing the expectation and the forum for sharing and the environment to allow them to apply these concepts. And these are tools that are very often used in Yellow Belt Training when they apply the skills.

Yellow Belt

So before we do that, let’s talk briefly about Yellow Belt. So Yellow Belt is – there are lots of levels with belt level training, White Belt, Yellow Belt, Green Belt, Black Belt, or the typical most common belt levels. And Yellow Belt and White Belt are really the first introductory levels for basic understanding of Lean Six Sigma concepts. And ultimately, Yellow Belts will receive additional training Just-In-Time if they’re going to be participating on a project with the Green Belt and/or a Black Belt, those kinds of things.

But it really is the most basic kind of training. In addition, it tends to go very broad in terms of the masses of employees. So if you have a large organization and you’re trying to standardize some level of process improvement training, Yellow Belt is a typical and very common way to do that. But because it’s so broad and can be far-reaching, it could be challenging to come up with a way for an organization to figure out how Yellow Belts are going to apply it, which is a really important part of training. If you’re not going to apply it, why use it?

So ultimately, the role of a Yellow Belt is to participate on Lean Six Sigma projects but also to apply these levels of skills.


So why belt level training? That is the next point. What is the purpose of this kind of process improvement training? Well, ultimately like I said, building problem-solving muscles of employees is really important for organizations. People are an organization’s number one asset. And how do we make sure that we have problem-solvers? We have to be able to solve problems effectively in the long term. And this is really what organizations do want it is important to start training people and continuing to strengthen those muscles so they get more exercise and more activity.

And so, I really do like the belt levels. Some people don’t like the belt levels because they feel like it encourages people to only get certification. But I really like it as a way to organize the education and what kinds of concepts people are using in their Yellow Belt. And it helps create structure for organizations in terms of what are they learning and at what level? There’s a lot to learn and it can definitely help.

Where Lean Six Sigma Practitioners Struggle

And regardless of whether you’re training is organized by belts or Lean modules or some other way, the challenge remains the same, what are people doing after the training to use their skills? Sadly, this is where the gap is occurring in many organizations. Students are struggling with process improvement concepts and making the jump from concept to real world application. Training isn’t worthwhile if people aren’t applying the concepts.

Training isn’t worthwhile if people aren’t applying the concepts.

So, what we don’t want is we don’t want people to go through training and then never use it. That’s a waste of money. And so, we don’t want people wasting money. So we’re going to talk a little bit about what we can do to apply this and make it more applicable.

The Challenge: Limited Resources

Here’s the challenge for organizations. How do you allocate limited internal resources properly and most effectively? That is a really big challenge. Often, dedicated process improvement, people are very limited in organizations. And so, it’s really important to identify how we’re leveraging that important limited resource.

And the sad part is, most of the time these limited internal resources are dedicated to classroom training. And they are training, training, training and all their time is spent in training. And guess what? They are not available to actually help with the application. And so, people leave the training. They are like, “That was great but how am I going to use it? I don’t really know what to do. I don’t know how this applies to my work.” And ultimately, the application of the tools and techniques suffer.

So the first thing we have to figure out is how do we create a little bit more capacity for those internal resources? And how do we actually set it up so that they can actually be available to help people apply it? So creating a curriculum that has some sort of online element or online training content can help free up internal resources and help be available for practical application in the real world. And that’s really important.

We have online training. It doesn’t have to have our online training. It could be your online training if you want. But really, the approach is win-win for the organization, for the learner, and for the instructor because most process improvement training does follow this traditional what we call classroom approach. And so the traditional classroom approach really is that you deliver lecture and content during class time and then students are assigned homework or activities that they have to do on their own. They have to learn by doing on their own. And unfortunately, that means that they don’t get a lot of guidance during that application part.

Traditional Classroom

And this is that traditional classroom training. It puts the effort on the student to make the connection between concepts and application. And this explains why people don’t apply the concepts very well after. There isn’t a whole lot of structure after training. There isn’t a lot of people following up and there’s not a lot of guidance. So yeah, I mean when you think about it, why would we expect any other different result than that?

Flipped Classroom Approach

So with the Flipped Classroom, the idea behind this is that there are online modules that a student would review asynchronously on their own time. It could be lecture. It could be training modules. It could be videos. It could be reading blogs. And then what ends up happening is the instructor is then utilized in the application part for practice activities instead of the lecture.

So what really is nice about that is it’s very interactive. So you’re in front of instructor. It’s all about activities and learning. It’s not just want, want – I think about the Charlie Brown teacher, want, want, want. It’s not that. Now, they are there to apply and learn the skills and it’s usually a lot more interaction because there is less teaching, one-way teaching.

And so, that’s really the Flipped Classroom concept. The students get the support while trying to make that connection in the classroom.

Traditional Yellow Belt

So typically, large number of Yellow Belts and people applying it, this is exactly what they’re doing is this traditional classroom approach. They go through the Yellow Belt training and then they are told to apply it independently when they get back to the ranch. And then we yell at them for not doing anything and we’re disappointed.

Flipped Yellow Belt

And so, they have to figure it out and that doesn’t work. So really what we want is we want to be able to say, “OK, do the Yellow Belt asynchronously. Here are the online modules. Here are videos. Here are the blogs. And then we’re going to have you guys come into these facilitated sessions to apply the tools.” So these facilitated sessions are nice for the instructors as well because typically, they are shorter. They are not standing in front of a group for 8 hours facilitating activities. It could be a short as one hour. It could be a lunch and learn.

You could actually say, “OK, you did your Yellow Belt. Come to this lunch and learn and we’re going to do this activity now that you’ve completed the Yellow Belt.” So the sessions are going to be much shorter and that means you can actually offer them more often if you want to. You could do one hour, two hours. And this is part of the design. You have to figure out what you want in terms of a design.

I like to have again, if you’re big on lunch and learn, lunch is an hour so that’s pretty self-explanatory. Some people want to do one hour and a half. Some people want to do two hours because they want to do two activities. We’re going to get to that in just a moment.

Design the Yellow Belt Program

But ultimately, we’re really trying to redesign what we’re doing with the Yellow Belt training. You’re really rethinking how you’re implementing Yellow Belt training and beyond. And there are lots of options for you to help design a really solid, meaningful, practical program for learners where you’re going to get better results.

You’re really rethinking how you’re implementing Yellow Belt training and beyond.

And so once you’ve decided you want to take this approach, you have to think about what you want to include during the Flipped Facilitated Classroom part of the training. So there are lots of options. So again, this is sort of laying out at a high level what your options might be for designing a Yellow Belt program.

So the first would be online modules for training. And again, we have a Yellow Belt that is ready to go. It’s 8 hours. However, you might decide, “Well, these are certain concepts. I really want us to talk about.” You may not use that. But you have to really figure out what is it you want a Yellow Belt to learn, what kinds of questions or assignments that you think would be helpful, and so then you really start to really decide what this design will look like. Here are a couple of options and I’ll talk more about these coming up in a couple of slides.

So the In Class application and discussion, you might have tools that you want them to try In Class like a SIPOC or a fishbone diagram. And so, you will actually have, “OK, you guys. Thanks for coming. You guys learned about the SIPOC in the Yellow Belt training. You’re going to actually build one now or you’re going to build a fishbone.” And they actually do it in the class on a real application, a real process. Build a SIPOC on one of your processes.

And then you might have multiple groups doing this or multiple individuals and then the facilitator would walk around and give them some guidance where they’re stuck. And so then you could also do some sort of coaching in this section. So if you have them build a SIPOC and you have them do it on the flip chart then you can actually give them some feedback on those together or you can ask the group, “What would you do differently on this SIPOC? What would you do differently on this fishbone?”

So you’re really promoting an analysis of other people’s or tools too in this class. So that can really be a great way to create some interaction and some real critical thinking in this kind of application.

We also have on here Project Based Application. So this is really more – Green Belts are really more where you come and see the projects. Yellow Belts can do projects too. But again, you really want to think about, are they able – do they have enough tools to do a full-blown project or is it that they’re going to apply some of these tools and make some improvements that are more quick hits?

And finally, this is my favorite option for designing a Yellow Belt program, site visits or tours within your own organization. So I have had the pleasure of seeing lots of different organizations and some of the work that people are doing are really awesome. We’ve seen really wonderful process boards, visual boards. We’ve huddles in action. We’ve seen all kinds of stuff. Why not incorporate that into getting the Yellow Belts to see what Lean Six Sigma looks like for your organization?

Why not incorporate that (process boards, visual boards, huddles, etc.) into getting the Yellow Belts to see what Lean Six Sigma looks like for your organization?

And this is where you can really customize what you show people based on what’s working well in your organization. And so, it could be doing a process walk. You could identify waste. Maybe you’ve sent somebody out to go see a 5S project that was completed. And people really like this because they actually get to see how someone has implemented some of this stuff and it really inspires people and get those creative juices going in terms of what they can do with it.

So these are a couple of ideas. And I’m going to talk a little bit more about specifics like specifically how you would design this in just a moment. But before we do that, let’s go to our poll.

Poll #1

So what I want to know is now that we’ve talked about the flipped classroom, how many of you have experience with this approach? You have your choices A, B, C, or D. So what you want to do is you want to go – we’re going to have Elisabeth launch the poll and then you tell us which one is it that you have found for you? Do you have …

  • A. A lot of experience with this approach
  • B. Some experience with this approach
  • C. Minimal experience with this approach
  • D. No experience with the Flipped Classroom Approach?

I’d like to hear what people have to say about that. And of course, we’re seeing this a lot. Elisabeth and I can probably say we’ve seen the flipped classroom quite a bit because it’s what you do with online training. You have online training and now you can actually leverage some of these activities for flipped classroom.

Do you have anything else you want to add to that, Elisabeth?

Elisabeth Swan: Just that this was so nice to see this put into a term like flipped classroom because it was always the best part of class was the application, the activities. So now, that’s what it is which is great.

Tracy O’Rourke: Yes. And I guess anecdotally, honestly, there are a lot of people that say, “Oh, the training was OK. It was good. It was a little tiring. Maybe it was a little too long.” But when you’ve got activities the entire time, it really amps up the energy level and the practicality of it. So people really like it and they see a lot of value in it.

Elisabeth Swan: Let’s see. You’ve got minimal experience to this approach is 36%. Next up is none. So minimal to none is 66% and then some experience is 24%, a lot is only 6%. So a lot of folks are new to this.

Tracy O’Rourke: Yeah, so 69% little or no experience with this. And this I think is also a testament to this approach. It’s fairly new with process improvement but very successful. I should also probably let you know that there had been some articles written. Jeffrey Liker wrote an article on the flipped classroom approach and how he thought it was definitely a better way to have people learn. And I’m sure we’ll be able to share it on our website as part of this.

So thank you for participating in the poll.

Example: Flipped Yellow Belt Classroom Agenda

So let’s move into this agenda. So again, if I had to go into a little bit more detail in developing a Yellow Belt program, so you might actually have – so on the left is some pre-work agendas before you go into the in-class. So what is it that you want in terms of assigning a schedule for Yellow Belt? What do you want them to learn? And again, what are the organizational needs? Where are people in the organization right now?

We have a standard Yellow Belt format and it works great for people. But again, you might have something that you really want people to learn that is a part of your organization as an example. So – and again, I always like to have a schedule. So the Yellow Belt – our current online program is 8 hours. And people like to have a schedule. That’s the other thing, is sometimes people do online and they say, “Oh well, people don’t finish it.”

…people are going to be more likely and more motivated to finish the curriculum that they’re supposed to by that date.

If you have a schedule of, “You will complete these modules in define by this date so that we can have an In-Class session shortly after that on this date,” people are going to be more likely and more motivated to finish the curriculum that they’re supposed to by that date. And so, it’s an important part of creating a schedule and a program. Having the schedule of not completing online materials but then actually giving them dates and times for when they’re going to be meeting with the facilitator in class and what we’re going to be covering.

I mean think about it for any of us. Some of us live by our calendar. So we’re like, “What’s coming up? Oh, crap! I got to finish that before it comes up.” And if there’s nothing on the calendar that you have to deliver, it’s not as motivating. Let’s face it.

So a big part of this, again, is going to be completing a schedule of when you’re going to complete online materials or watch videos or read blogs and then there’s going to be some element of pre-work for in-class discussion.

Again, you decide what is the pre-work that they would need to do. So then you would create in-class agendas. And again, how many in-class agendas do you want for a Yellow Belt? Do you want three 1-hour sessions? Do you want one 2-hour session? It’s up to you. This is again, where you want to design how much support do we want to give them? How much can we actually do?

And guess what? In-Class can be online. It doesn’t have to be on-site. So again, there’s a lot of freedom here in terms of what you can do. We have online agendas and on-site agendas. And of course, you can’t do a tour. Well, you might be able to do a tour actually online with somebody’s Facetime phone or something like that. But the exercises that you do on-site do vary. As you can imagine, there are some limitations with online sometimes in terms of what you can offer but it still works great especially with people sharing some of the SIPOCs and those kinds of things.

So ultimately, you create an agenda. I always make sure to include an icebreaker because again, icebreakers are really important because again, let’s remember, you’re trying to build a community of people in your organization too. You don’t want to just launch right into process improvement tools and techniques. Learners have to feel more comfortable especially if they don’t know each other. So it makes people feel more comfortable. It sets the stage for a learning environment. It helps promote community because people get to know one another.

You don’t want to just launch right into process improvement tools and techniques. Learners have to feel more comfortable especially if they don’t know each other… It sets the stage for a learning environment.

I actually prefer icebreaker because we actually get to know the people. So some people like games like geography games or whatever that break the ice. I really like to ask – have them do an exercise where they have to ask a question or answer a question about themselves like worst vacation experience or something like that. It really humanizes people, makes people laugh sometimes and it just sets the stage really well.

Then you can move into a discussion topic. So maybe it’s a brief review of some of the techniques or if they had an assignment that they were supposed to do but about the video, what did you think about that? And then you might have one or two activities that you do. Build a SIPOC and then you’re going to go on a tour. So again, these are things you would be building as part of your in-class agenda.

Exercise 1: Brainstorm Processes

So here’s an example of something very specific that I actually – the next few slides talk about very specific things you can include as part of your in-class agenda. So when you’re getting started with Yellow Belt, one of the first things you could do as an exercise is you bring people in. They are from all over – all different parts of the organization and you can have them brainstorm. What processes do you work in? And that can actually help people get to know each other too.

And it’s really just what processes are you in? Are you in finance? Are you in accounts payable? Are you in supply chain? Are you an inspection? Are you in delivery of a product? Are you in manufacturing?

So what are some of the processes that you work in? I think it’s interesting to have – some people might only work in one process and that’s it. But what we find in admin processes, we tend to use people in all kinds of processes when it comes to admin. Think about HR. So HR processes. If you have somebody working in HR, they might be in the hire process, the on-boarding process, the termination process. There could be lots of processes that they’re involved in.

So, it’s great just to see. And what would be the point of this? Well, we really want people to get dialed on process focus. So people tend to focus on other things. And so gain, this is process improvement and this helps people sort of identify processes – being process-centric.

…this is where all improvement starts for process improvement is you have to start with the process.

And really, this is where all improvement starts for process improvement is you have to start with the process. You can’t start with – well, you can’t start and say, “Well, I go to fix some of these people.” It’s better to start with the process.

And once you start with brainstorming processes, you can have people in the room share or even online share, “These are the processes that I work in.” And then as part of that same meeting or session, you can actually have them build a SIPOC on one of those.

Exercise 2: Build a SIPOC

So this would be building a SIPOC. So they then brainstorm their processes. They pick a process and then you say, “OK. You guys learned about the SIPOC in the training. Now, why don’t you go ahead and pick one of your processes and build a SIPOC?”

And so, this can – you can have him build it on a flip chart. You can have him use a piece of paper and takes 20 minutes tops really to build a SIPOC. And so, if you have multiple people doing this in class or in session, you can walk around and give them feedback, which is why I like to use the flip charts so the paper is great but it’s a lot easier for you to give them guidance if you can see things on the wall too. And if you want to share something that someone has done with the other group, it’s a lot easier for everybody to get around that flip chart and everybody look at the flip chart, which I highly encourage.

So using those flip charts can be again, it creates more interaction and ability to interact with people. And so again – and then if you want, you can send the template and tell them to fill out the template at the end. We have a SIPOC template on our website. We have actually a hundred free templates. But we do have a SIPOC template. You give to them. So have them build it on the wall and then have them put it on the template.

I always like to do pluses and deltas on the SIPOC.

And then you could debrief. And I always like to do pluses and deltas on the SIPOC. I talk. Then we do a debrief and people go through. Not everybody has to go through it depending on how many people you have but I might pick a few people to share their SIPOC and I might give some pluses and deltas as part of the learning, “This is what I really like about your SIPOC. Here’s what I would do different.” And then maybe give them some next steps like, “OK now, it’s your job as a next step to go to your customer requirements or identify your customer requirements.”

So that’s an example of one exercise that you could do where most of the – the meat of the in-class, the flipped facilitator session, that could be the meat of the class.

Exercise 3: Build a Fishbone

Let me give you another example of another one. So the fishbone is also a Yellow Belt level tool. We talked about what the fishbone is and I’m going to assume that you’re going to go through the training and learn about a fishbone. But these people have been exposed to a fishbone. What I love about the fishbone is most people never brainstorm root causes. What do we brainstorm? We always brainstorm solutions.

And so, this is a great way to remind people it’s not about jumping to solution. It’s not about solving with a solution. It’s about identifying what the possible root causes could be and then trying to figure out which one it really is.

It’s not about solving with a solution. It’s about identifying what the possible root causes could be and then trying to figure out which one it really is.

So, it really is one of those to me critical thinking that shifts the thinking. It’s a tool that can actually shift thinking. And so it could be – this could be the same format of how you do the SIPOC facilitation with this particular one. You can have them come in and then you talk briefly about the fishbone and then you can have him work on flip charts on building a fishbone.

Now ideally, you want them to pick up – pick a stinky fish head problem and put it in the fishbone. Ideally, you want that to be a work-related issue. But if you really want to do something different like why are fire dancers getting caught on fire and you want to make that fun and you want to build it in groups together before they do it on their own individually, great. And that’s the nice part about doing some sort of design.

So have them work in small groups on the flip charts. You can hand them the template later for them to complete. And then again, give guidance around the room as needed and provide feedback on pluses and deltas. So it’s a very similar format in terms of how you would facilitate one of these many sessions. And again, if you’re going to do a fishbone, it could be an hour depending on how many people are there. It could be an hour, an hour and a half. It would take that much time. So that’s another example of an exercise you could do for a Yellow Belt level training.

Exercise 4: 5S Application

Let’s go to the next one. So this is a really fun one. So 5S, sometimes there are lots of opportunities to have 5S application. This is a Yellow Belt level tool and you could actually schedule a tour. You could schedule a tour and take these learners, your Yellow Belt candidates, to some place in your organization that has done a great job 5S-ing. It’s exciting. It’s fun. They get to go into a place maybe they haven’t worked before and see a different workplace. So that’s an option. You could actually have them participate in a 5S as part of being a Yellow Belt. Maybe you have them help with the sorting or the setting in order or something.

So again, depending on how long you want this to be, it’s up to you. If you actually are doing a lot of 5S’s and you want them to come in to help sort things on a true 5S, great. Or maybe you take volunteers and see if other people need them. So I think that is a great way to get them involved.

And again, let’s not forget, 5S isn’t just about workplace organization physically. You could do a 5S desktop. You could actually have them, if they are an administrative group, they could actually 5S their desktop and talk about what they learned.

So those are the fun things that can happen. So this is a little different in terms of facilitator format and how you would facilitate it. But it could be really fun and you can make part 2. Their assignment is to go 5S or maybe we actually work on 5S-ing it at somebody’s desktop together. And again, it’s all part of the learning. And so, that could be a lot of fun.

But again, you have to figure out if 5S is something that you’re doing a lot of or you’d like to do more of, those kinds of things.

Exercise 5: Create Standard Work

The last one I’m going to talk about in terms of an actual tool for Yellow Belt is creating Standard Work. So this is obviously common procedures and processes. You’re creating visual aids, point of view checklist or templates or job instructions. Everybody always talks about how they need Standard Work in a lot of their processes.

So again, this would be a great one for Yellow Belts to be assigned because there’s a lot of opportunity. It’s easy to do. It’s probably something that is within their job scope and they could get a really great sense of accomplishment with creating Standard Work.

Standard Work Example

So the next – I’ll give you an example on the next slide. So here’s an example of – so believe it or not, the story behind this is that and this was a number of years ago when Keurigs were pretty new. We were in a facility. It was a training lab. It was actually the Lean Lab. And we are conducting training and there was a coffee maker on the table. This was like I said a number of years ago. Nobody knew how to use this thing. It was a coffee maker.

And so, we had them develop standard work, a standard work document for this coffee maker and how to use it. And we laughed and it was funny. But it worked. I mean this is an example of something simple that is energizing and it gets people to say, “Oh yeah, you could apply this stuff anywhere.” And so now, I guess everybody knows how to use a Keurig. But at the time, really important. And you know what? Not everybody knows how to use a Keurig. So it probably still value for some. But this could be an example of an output for a Yellow Belt.

Tracking Yellow Belt Activity

So I’ve taken you through 5 things you can do to help Yellow Belts apply the learning after certification. And so again, it’s up to you to design how you want this to look. We have a standard Yellow Belt follow-up process as a part of our Yellow Belt training. But again, what makes sense for you if you’re going to do on-site and you want to incorporate some of these more customized things.

And again, Yellow Belts, we tend to train more Yellow Belts than anything because it’s the introductory level. And so, this came from one of our clients, she had Yellow Belt that she was trying to track. And so, she was going through and just tracking to make sure that they completed the modules that they’re responsible for and the instructor, whoever is doing their facilitated classroom would sort of keep track of this, the SIPOC, did we go on a waste walk, they built a fishbone because they’re just keep track that people have turned it in, those kinds of things. So that could be important especially if you are trying to keep things standard and you’re looking to make sure people are finishing some of these things.

…I think it’s important to identify what their responsibilities are as a leader…

But I think what’s really important about this Yellow Belt Tracker is you should also be using this to connect with the Yellow Belt supervisor, coordinates communication, about their progress, their status, the activities and also, I think it’s important to identify what their responsibilities are as a leader, how often should they be checking in with the Yellow Belt, about what?

So my – I have a soft spot for leaders. I think they get a lot of bad rap in this whole thing because I think leaders want to do the right thing. They want to support their people. They just need guidance on what, when, and how.

And so, this is actually part of making sure the follow-up is happening. It’s not just about the activities. It’s about creating communication and helping to trigger that dialog with a supervisor and a Yellow Belt. And I think that’s a really important part about this program too is designing a program where that follow-up is automatic.

Yellow Belt Success

And again, I think it’s also helpful to celebrate and encourage Yellow Belt Success. So maybe you have an entire wall of pictures of people that have done 5S’s or standard work or maybe you have a success story wall that is just showing that people are engaged. It helps energize others. It helps inspire others to do it. It captures the activity which is really important too.

And so, what kinds of things can you do to promote or highlight this? Or maybe this is where the supervisor comes into play and they’ve got a Yellow Belt success wall in their area. And so – and they make it part of a daily huddle or a weekly huddle or something like that. So there are lots that you can do here as well and really important because honestly, the other issue that we have with Yellow Belts is if nobody is checking on them, if nobody is asking them how things are going, they just forget about it because leaders dictate what people pay attention to. So if nobody ever asked about Yellow Belt, they’re going to forget about it shortly thereafter as well. We don’t want that.

Got Ideas?

So I have another question for you that I would love to ask you. And so the question is, what is working? What are some of the methods you found effective in engaging Yellow Belts after certification besides maybe some of the stuff that we’ve done? Or maybe you have done this and it has worked well. I’d love to hear your thoughts on that. So, tell us. What are some methods you found effective in engaging Yellow Belts after certification?

And while you’re doing that, I’ll just say that my favorite part about this is the celebration part. I am a teacher. I am consultant. And when I talk about concepts and then I go and see what people have done with some of those concepts, it just blows me away. And I feel like I get the gift back of seeing some of the success.

Elisabeth Swan: So Tracy, you’ve got Tino had success using Ishikawa method, maybe combining that with 5 Whys.

Tracy O’Rourke: Yeah. Wonderful. I love that. I was going to say the fishbone again is one of those really easy tools that people get and it’s all around root cause identification which is exactly what we want them to think through. So nice, Tino.

Elisabeth Swan: Jennifer is suggesting what works for her is getting people starting on a project right away.

Tracy O’Rourke: Yup. So getting started on a Yellow Belt level, I’m wondering about that or is it them participating in a Green Belt project with someone as a Green Belt I wonder or both.

Elisabeth Swan: Yeah. And Karlo says he had success combining fishbone with checklists. Also, having checklist for the Yellow Belts.

Tracy O’Rourke: Nice. Yup. So standard work and fishbone. So it sounds like people are doing this stuff already, which is wonderful.

Elisabeth Swan: Another one, let’s see. This is Mercedes says she is working on building a Lean community of practice so they can track all the Yellow Belts and include them in some Lean projects and webinars and things like that.

Tracy O’Rourke: That is wonderful. So the Lean community is huge. And how do we create even some more standardization around inserting new candidates if you will into the Lean community? I think that’s a whole – that could be a whole new webinar.

Elisabeth Swan: And then Ryan is pointing out that they enjoy doing the 5S and it has been a huge help with their ISO audit because the auditor can see their process really easily.

Tracy O’Rourke: Wonderful. I would love to hear if any of you have some ideas on what’s working for celebrating Yellow Belt activities or work. I’ve seen people talk about gallery walks where they have people come in and it’s like a tradeshow style display of what people are doing at the Yellow Belt. Typically, I see that more for Green Belt projects more so than Yellow Belt. But is there anything that you guys have seen out there that has been working really with some of that showcasing of Yellow Belt work?

Elisabeth Swan: Mary says people leave fishbone – they leave fishbone flashcards on a table for everyone to enter their problems and it gets everyone thinking by default the right way. That’s cool. So thinking root cause before jumping to solutions, which is nice. I like that.

Tracy O’Rourke: I love that.

Elisabeth Swan: Yeah.

Tracy O’Rourke: Tactile.

Elisabeth Swan: Let’s see. We’re currently doing projects with people who have received certifications of projects we have them participate in. They tackle simple processes, usually the ones that are contained to one department.

Tracy O’Rourke: Cool.

Elisabeth Swan: We’ve got – we had Yellow Belts create gemba boards throughout the organization. That’s Mercedes again.

Tracy O’Rourke: Oh, gemba boards! I love that.

Elisabeth Swan: Laura is using improvement-focused recognition awards.

Tracy O’Rourke: Cool.

Elisabeth Swan: And Jennifer is getting a certificate at company-wide meetings. Again, recognition in front of peers. That’s huge.

Tracy O’Rourke: Yes. I’ll just say while you’re looking at those a little bit more. We had a director who bought little gumby dolls and they were really tiny like miniature gumby dolls. They were obviously rubber. And she would hand them out anytime she saw people engaging in process improvement whether it’s Yellow Belt or Green Belt. And she would give them a gumby doll because gumby has no waste. Do you get it? He has no waste.

Puns work really well for encouragement, Tracy.

Elisabeth Swan: Oh! It took me a couple of beats. Yeah, that’s good. Puns work really well for encouragement, Tracy.

Tracy O’Rourke: Exactly.

Elisabeth Swan: Another one. Kim has an expo of process improvement with coffee and deserts. That will increase the size of your waist. And then we’ve got summaries. Jennifer has summaries in a company-wide newsletter. That’s great.

Kim has Argyle Sox as an award, which really I’m going to have to find out more about that. And then Trevor has most value-added player certificate. That’s cool. And they have report outs. That’s really great.

And then I’m just going to end and give you your last one. This is from Nowee [0:41:49] [Phonetic]. Number one, Tracy is a great facilitator. Number two, they engage their senior leadership team to join the Lean Win Board celebration. That sounds good.

Tracy O’Rourke: Cool! How do you get any better than Lean win board? That’s pretty cool.

Elisabeth Swan: I like that.

Tracy O’Rourke: Thank you.

Elisabeth Swan: Sure.

Tracy O’Rourke: I love to hear some of those ideas.

Engaging Green Belts

So again, this was specifically for Yellow Belt. We also have one for Green Belt. And this is really more broad in terms of not necessarily focus on the flip classroom but some things you could do beyond having Green Belt so that they apply their skills a little bit more. So we’ve already got that going. We will probably going to have a Black Belt one coming up later in the year.

Lean Six Sigma Training Rollout Kit

I also just want to let you know, on the next slide, we have – if you were planning a Lean Six Sigma training, you probably want to get a rollout kit. It’s the ultimate guide to training rollout. And it really just talks about some of the elements that might be important to think through as you go through your rollout. As you can see, it’s very difficult to read on the slide but there are 14 steps for a high-level rollout that you really want to think through.

And unfortunately, sometimes as an example, people don’t necessarily – they roll out training and then they forget, “Well, what else are we going to make them do as part of Yellow Belt certification?” And they forgot to outline the parameters before they roll out the training. So now, they come across looking very unsure or unclear and now, they have to jump through hoops to try to figure out what they really want people to do. It’s too late. It’s not too late but it just doesn’t – it just doesn’t come across very well.

So, those are some of the things you really want to think about. And so, this rollout kit helps you identify that.

Today We Covered

So guess what? We are at the end of our session today. And we basically covered ways to engage a Yellow Belt and we talked about defining the Yellow Belt, the Flipped Classroom Approach and why that can work really well, and some of the Yellow Belt concepts that can work really well in terms of follow-up or in a facilitated classroom environment so people can actually apply the tools, SIPOC, fishbone diagrams, 5S, and standard work.


So now, if you have any questions, we will be willing to take that. What you want to do is you want to type any questions you might have in the chat window. And while you’re typing those in, I’m going to cover a few other things.

Getting Started

If you haven’t gone through our training program yet or if you are thinking you might need a vendor to partner with for online training, we have lots of training available. We have White Belt, Yellow Belt, Green Belt, Black Belt, and Lean.

eBook: The Problem-Solver’s Tookit

And I also want to share that Elisabeth and I are very excited. We have just launched our new eBook called The Problem-Solver’s Toolkit. We are so excited about it. It’s available on our website but it’s also available on We also have author pages on if you’re interested.

We are so proud of this book. It’s fast. It’s fun. It’s a reference guide for 35 foundational Lean Six Sigma tools. And if you buy Green Belt, you get it for free or if you buy Black Belt, you get it for free.

But we really love it. And it’s going on a journey with us. And yes, I really want that book so I can be on the front page of the book.

Upcoming Webinar: July 26, 11am PDT

OK. So I’m going to let Elisabeth talk a little bit about this slide. It’s our upcoming webinar for July 26, Influence Strategies for Coaching Green Belts. What are they going to learn there, Elisabeth?

Elisabeth Swan: This one is for leaders, coaches, Black Belts, people responsible for helping Green Belts on their way. And there is always this sort of nuts and bolts of coaching but the how-to isn’t everything. And this webinar addresses the people side of coaching for improvement. How do you help influence Green Belts? How do you help Green Belts influence others? So, just the influence side of the spectrum that often doesn’t get the time and information that people really need to address that soft side of process improvement.

Just-In-Time Café Podcast

Tracy O’Rourke: Very nice. So we also have our latest Just-In-Time Café Podcast. We just released it yesterday. On this podcast, I had the pleasure of interviewing Kevin Limbach, the Vice-President of US Operations and Service at TaylorMade Golf. He is awesome. We actually co-teach at the San Diego State Lean Enterprise Program together. He was very candid about some of the trials and tribulations that they’ve gone through in terms of trying to build a Lean culture with TaylorMade. It was wonderful.

And he also talks about his compelling mission outside of work with helping Feeding San Diego in his free time.

Elisabeth Swan: It’s a great podcast. Tracy and I also talked about our tour of Zingerman’s Mail Order artisan food gift boxes. They’re based in Ann Arbor. So we gave you a great description of what we learned on our tour. Tracy talked to you about tours. That’s a great one if you want an example.

Success Story Webinar

Tracy O’Rourke: We also have our latest Success Story Webinar. So these are basically – most of them are Green Belt level projects and projects that people have completed. And this is a great one on transportation wastes. So we always talk about just identify waste. Identify it and then figure out how to eliminate it. And this is a great example of that.

Hampton Sublett, he works for UC Davis and he was able to repurpose 2,600 hours of transportation waste into value-add work. So his project is really about technicians and he was finding that technicians kept having to drive themselves in all these different places to pick up tools, equipment, supplies, materials. And he removed that. And now, they can actually do more value-add work and they call it Wrench Time. More Wrench Time actually to fix more stuff because they don’t have to drive around. So it’s a great one.

Elisabeth Swan: I like that. Wrench time.

Tracy O’Rourke: Wrench time.

Wonder Women Quality

Elisabeth Swan: Another thing you can take a look at is our latest Wonder Woman of Quality. These are women on the frontlines and on in leadership positions that are kicking quality butt. And Cecilia is an assistant professor up Clarkson University and she has been certifying Green Belts by having them do projects at a local hospital which is incredibly impressive. It’s hard to get hospitals to change their own processes with their own people and she has got her Green Belts in there making a difference, which is a wonderful addition to the community.

…she has got her Green Belts in there making a difference, which is a wonderful addition to the community.


Let’s bring this back to our questions. So questions for Tracy. Let’s see. This one says, “I have a PhD in Biochemistry and I would like to take Six Sigma but I do not know which one I should take, Green or Yellow, Tracy?” This is from Sanaz.

Tracy O’Rourke: Gosh! If you’re really looking at our program, if you really have an interest and you really want to go for Green Belt, I’d say go right to Green Belt. There isn’t a prerequisite to go to the Green Belt course. If you know what you want to cover Green Belt, I would say go for it. Go right into it. Black Belt however does have a prerequisite and you have to go through Green Belt first.

Elisabeth Swan: Next question and since this one kind of follows right on. This is from Daphne and she is saying, “Once I have my Green Belt, do I have to involve my company to earn my Black Belt?”

Tracy O’Rourke: Well, what we have found is Black Belt projects really need to be applied in the workplace. So a project is required in Black Belt and you really want it to be a work-related project. We do not approve projects that are not work-related.

And so now, if you don’t want to use your company, you can use someone else’s company. If you have – if you’re doing volunteer work in a nonprofit organization or something like that and you want to do a Black Belt project there, great. But yes, it does need to be work-related. And it’s because we don’t want certifying projects on personal and home projects.

Elisabeth Swan: Great one. Another question is, what is a good size for hands-on training? What’s a good number of people?

Tracy O’Rourke: Great question. So if you’re talking about the Facilitated Flipped Classroom sessions, think it depends. You can have anywhere from 4. The top would probably be 20 people. And if you think about it, in a flipped classroom environment, if all of them are coming from all different places, they all have different processes they are brainstorming. So 20 is even a lot.

But if you have groups of people coming from different – from the same area, so let’s say you have 5 people coming from HR and 4 people coming from Operations or something like that. And then they can work in teams. Then that allows you to have more people in the session.

So I think the big qualifier here is, are they going to be doing these activities individually or are they going to be doing these activities in groups and related groups? And if you do mean related groups, you can have more people. I hope that helps.

Elisabeth Swan: Good one. No, I think that’s great. You’re getting a lot of thanks here, Tracy. And I think we can wrap it up.

Tracy O’Rourke: All right. Well, thank you so much for coming to our webinar today. I really enjoyed this topic. I hope you did too. If you have any more questions, please contact us at [email protected] Don’t forget to download our free tools and templates, infographics and more. And get out there and go quality.

Elisabeth Swan: Goodbye, everybody. Thanks for joining us.

Tracy O’Rourke: Bye-bye.

View our upcoming webinars and join live so you can ask questions and let us know what you’d like to us to cover next. We’re busy building new webinars all the time. And we’re happy to know you’re busy too – building your problem-solving muscles – keep it up!

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Tracy O'Rourke

Tracy is a Master Black Belt at, the co-author of The Problem-Solver’s Toolkit and co-host of the Just-in-Time Cafe. She is also a Lean Six Sigma Green Belt Instructor at UC San Diego and teaches in San Diego State University’s Lean Enterprise Program. For almost 20 years, she has helped leading organizations like Washington State, Charles Schwab and GE build problem-solving muscles.

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