The referencing of “belts” by color is a simple and effective way of quickly understanding their skill and experience level. Here’s a quick look at the differences. You may have heard the reference now and then to someone who’s a bit “green” or new at something. That’s the idea here.
A green belt is someone just learning the tips and techniques that make for good Six Sigma or Lean project execution. They are usually cutting their teeth on a first project and have received fundamental training in Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, and Control – the project execution building blocks.
A black belt is typically a green belt who has shown a real knack for six sigma, likes it, and has moved forward to deliver a number of projects with quantifiable results. They also will have received additional training in deeper analysis tools (think stats) and perhaps even some instruction on change management or stakeholder influencing.
A master black belt is all the above, plus will have mentored or coached about 20 or more green belts and black belts, is even deeper on the statistics and analysis, plus is well versed in change management techniques.
The best difference, many belts become highly promotable because they are excellent business problem solvers.