The Villanova Six Sigma Blackbelt exam is structured around their suggested body of knowledge. I took and passed this test in May, 2014 by following the structure below. In order to make the best use of my time I organized my study by following the outline below. For each subject I translated my paper notes and many internet bookmarks and turned to this website.
Each link goes to a page of my notes. There are many other pages in this website for six sigma-related subjects not linked here but I felt were useful. This was especially helpful during exam time as Villanova states that their exam is far more intensive than their offered study materials. In other words, they expect you to master the industry and you will be tested on far more than what they teach you. In fact, the head of Six Sigma education at Villanova sent a notice to all students stating the exam is comprehensive of the industry and far more intensive than what would be a final exam.
The ground rules are the same as I have outlined on the front page:
- Please leave comments:
- Add material I missed
- Question what is written and ask for elaboration when needed.
- Add you personal experiences and study notes, links, helpful material where appropriate.
I. Importance of Six Sigma
a. Value of Six Sigma
i. Six Sigma-basic premise
Understand the concept of variation and how the six Ms have an influence on the process. Understand the difference between assignable-cause and common cause variation along with how to deal with each type.
iii. Quality improvement concepts
Define and describe concepts such as prevention versus detection, quality characteristics (i.e. nominal-is-best, smaller-is-best or larger-is-best) and how they apply to target values.
iv. Value to the enterprise
Recognize why organizations use Six Sigma, how they apply its philosophy and goals.
v. Drivers and metrics
Recognize key drivers for business [profit, market share, customer satisfaction, efficiency, product differentiation, defects per million opportunities (DPMO), etc.] and how key metrics are developed and impact the entire organization.
vii. Cost of Poor Quality
viii. Business system and processes
Understand and distinguish interrelationships between business systems and processes.
b. Voice of the customer
i. Customer focus
Identify and classify internal and external customers as applicable to a particular project, and show how projects impact customers.
ii. Collect customer data
Use various methods to collect customer feedback (e.g. Kano diagrams, observation, etc.) and identify key elements that make these tools effective.
iii. Analyze customer data
Use graphical, statistical, and qualitative tools to analyze customer feedback.
Assist in translating customer feedback into project goals and objectives, including critical to quality (CTQ) attributes and requirements statements. Use voice of customer analysis tools such as quality function deployment (QED) and Kano diagrams to translate customer requirements into performance measures.
Identify process owners, internal and external customers, and other stakeholders in a project.
II. Six Sigma and the organization
a. Six Sigma projects
ii. Charter negotiation
Create and negotiate the charter, including objectives, scope, boundaries, project transition, and project closure.
iii. Problem statement
Develop problem statement, including baseline and improvement goals.
Establish primary and consequential metrics (quality, cycle time, cost)
v. Process elements
Define and describe process components and boundaries.
Recognize how processes cross various functional areas and the challenges that result for process improvement efforts.
viii. Project documentation
Create data-driven and fact-driven project documentation using spreadsheets, storyboards, phased reviews, management reviews, presentations to the executive team, etc.
x. Project metrics
Assist with the development of primary and consequential metrics (e.g., quality time, cycle time and cost) and establish key project metrics that relate to the voice of the customer.
xi. Project risk analysis
xii. Project closure
Describe the objectives achieved and apply the lessons learned to identify additional opportunities.
i. Initiating teams
Know the elements of launching a team and why they are important: clear purpose, goals, commitment, ground rules, roles and responsibilities of team members, schedules, and support from management, and team empowerment.
ii. Selecting team members
Select team members that have appropriate skills sets (e.g., self facilitation, technical/subject matter expertise), and create teams with appropriate numbers of members and representation.
iii. Team stages and dynamics
Define and describe the stages of team evolution, including forming storming, norming, performing. Identify and help resolve negative dynamics such as overbearing, dominant, or reluctant participants, the unquestioned acceptance of opinions and facts, groupthink, feuding, floundering, the rush to accomplishment, etc.
Describe and define the roles and responsibilities of participants on Six Sigma and other teams, including Black Belt, Master Black Belt, Green Belt, champion, coach, facilitator, team member, sponsor, process owner, etc.
v. Team tools
Apply coaching, mentoring, and facilitation techniques to guide a team and overcome problems such as overbearing, dominant, or reluctant participants, the unquestioned acceptance of opinions as facts, tangents, etc.
vii. Team-building techniques
Recognize and apply the basic steps in team building: goals, roles and responsibilities, introductions and both stated and hidden agendas.
viii. Team performance evaluation
Measure team progress in relation to goals, objectives and metrics that support team success.
ix. Motivation techniques
Define, select, and apply techniques that support and sustain team member participation and commitment.
Use effective and appropriate communication techniques for different situations to overcome barriers to project success.
xi. Negotiation and conflict resolution techniques
Define, select, and apply tools such as consensus techniques, brainstorming, effort/impact, multivoting, interest-based bargaining to help conflicting parties (e.g., departments, groups, leaders, staff) recognize common goals and how to work together to achieve them.
c. Change Management
i. Managing change
Understand and apply techniques for facilitating or managing organizational change through change agent methodologies.
ii. Organizational roadblocks
Understand the inherent structures for an organization (e.g., its cultures and constructs) that present basic barriers to improvement; select and apply techniques to overcome them.
d. Senior management elements
i. Organizational leadership
Understanding the leadership roles in the deployment of Six Sigma.
Understand the importance of benchmarking.
iii. Strategic planning
Describe the key elements of strategic business planning and describe why it is important at the project level and at the top level of an organization.
iv. Supply chain management
Describe why the development of suppliers is important to a Six Sigma initiative.
v. Barriers to implementation
Describe how to handle some of the common barriers to implementation.
III. Six Sigma objectives
a. Key process and product/service parameters identified
b. Measurement systems that are discriminate, repeatable, and reproducible.
Calculate, analyze, and interpret measurement system capability using control chart methods.
c. Processes in statistical control
Describe how turning attribute data into variable discrete data.
Understand how to make ‘active use’ of attribute data.
d. Statistically capable processes
Identify, describe, and apply the elements of designing and conducting process capability studies, including identifying characteristics, identifying specifications, and verifying stability and normalty.
Define, select, and calculate Cp and Cpk, and assess process capability.
e. Long-term capability
Describe the assumptions and conventions that are appropriate when only short-term data are collected and when only attributes data are available.
Describe the changes in relationships that occur when long-term data are used, and interpret the relationship between long- and short-term capability as it relates to a 1.5 sigma shift.
f. Visual workplace/factory
Identify the key aspects of a visual workplace
g. Standard work
Identify the key aspects of a standard work.
IV. Six Sigma Approach
a. Process analysis and documentation
ii. Process mapping
Develop and review process maps, written procedures, work instructions, flowcharts, etc.
Define and describe failure mode and effects analysis (FMEA).
Describe the purpose and use of scale criteria and calculate the risk priority number (RPN).
v. Techniques for assuring data accuracy and integrity
Define and apply techniques such as random sampling, sample homogeneity, etc.
vi. Multi-vari studies
Create and interpret multi-vari studies to interpret the difference between within-piece, piece-to-piece, and time-to-time variation.
b. Probability and statistics
i. Basic probability concepts
Describe and apply concepts such as independence, mutually exclusive, multiplication rules, complementary probability, joint occurrence of events, etc.
ii. Descriptive statistics
iii. Graphical methods
Depict relationships by constructing, applying and interpreting diagrams and charts such as stem-and-leaf plots, box-and-whisker plots, run charts, scatter diagrams etc., and depict distributions by constructing, applying and interpreting diagrams such as histograms, normal probability plots etc.
c. Collecting and summarizing data
i. Types of data
Identify, define, classify and compare continuous (variables) and
ii. discrete (attributes) data, and recognize opportunities to convert attributes data to variables measures.
iii. Measurement scales
Define and apply nominal, ordinal, interval and ratio measurement scales.
Define and apply methods for collecting data such as coding data, automatic gaging etc.
Define and apply techniques for assuring data accuracy and integrity such as random sampling, stratified sampling, sample homogeneity, etc.
1. Statistical vs. practical significance
2. Significance level, power, type I and type II errors
3. Sample size
Understand how to calculate sample size for any given hypothesis test.
Define and interpret the efficiency and bias of estimators; compute, interpret and draw conclusions from statistics such as standard error, tolerance intervals, and confidence intervals; understand the distinction between confidence intervals and prediction intervals.
iii. Test for means, variances, and proportions
Apply hypothesis tests for means, variances and proportions, and interpret the results.
iv. Paired-comparison tests
Define, determine applicability, and apply paired-comparison parametric hypothesis tests and interpret the results.
Define, determine applicability, and apply chi-square tests and interpret the results.
Define, determine applicability, and apply ANOVAs and interpret the results.
vii. Contingency Tables
Define, determine applicability, and construct a contingency table and use it to determine statistical significance.
e. Properties and applications of probability distributions
i. Distributions commonly used by black belts
f. Measurement systems
i. Measurement methods
Describe and review measurement methods such as attribute screens, gauge blocks, calipers, micrometers, optical comparators, tensile strength, titration, etc.
Calculate, analyze, and interpret measurement system capability using repeatability and reproducibility, measurement correlation, bias, linearity, percent agreement, precision/tolerance (P/T), precision/total variation (P/TV), and use both ANOVA and control chart methods for non-destructive, destructive, and attribute systems.
Understand traceability to calibration standards, measurement error, calibration systems, control and integrity of standards and measurement devices.
i. Value-added and non-value-added activities
Identify waste in terms of excess inventory, space, test inspection, rework transportation, storage, etc., and to reduce cycle time to improve throughput.
Define and be able to differentiate the wastes (muda). (i.e., defects, overproduction, waiting, non-utilized talent, transportation, inventory, motion, and extra processing).
Define and apply methods for construction including calculating takt time, lead time, cycle time, etc.
Describe the basic concepts regarding a quick change-over and why it is important to a lean enterprise.
V. Quality improvement tools and techniques
a. Tools most commonly used in projects
i. Ishikawa tools
ii. New management tools
Define, select and use
5) matrix diagrams,
Describes the objectives and benefits of control charts, including controlling process performance, identifying special and common causes, etc.
1. Rational subgrouping
Define and describe how and why rational subgrouping is used.
2. Populations versus samples
Understand the distinction between a population parameter and a sample statistic.
3. Random sample
Understand the basic questions that should be asked about whether or not a sample is to be considered ‘random’.
Interpret control charts and distinguish between common and special causes using the rules for determining statistical control (i.e. seven points in a row for shifts and trends, points out of control and non-random patterns).
iv. PRE-control chart
Define and explain PRE-control and perform PRE-control calculations and analysis.
b. Tools to address challenging situations
i. Advanced statistical process control
2. Planning and organizing experiments
Describe and apply the basic elements of experiment planning and organizing, including determining the experiment objective, selecting factors, responses, and measurement methods, choosing the appropriate design, etc.
3. Design principles
4. Design and analysis of one-factor experiments
Construct these experiments such as completely randomized, randomized block and Latin square designs, and apply computational and graphical methods to analyze and evaluate the significance of results.
5. Design and analysis of full factorial experiments
Construct these experiments and apply computational and graphical methods to analyze and evaluate the significance of results.
6. Design and analysis of two-level fractional factorial experiments
Construct experiments (including Taguchi designs) and apply computational and graphical methods to analyze and evaluate the significance of results; understand limitations of fractional factorials due to confounding.
Apply Taguchi robustness concepts and techniques such as signal-to-noise ratio, controllable and noise factors, and robustness to external sources of variability.
8. Mixture of experiments
Construct these experiments and apply computational and graphical methods to analyze and evaluate the significance of results.
10. Steepest ascent/descent experiments
Construct these experiments and apply computational and graphical methods to analyze the significance of results.
11. Higher-order experiments
Construct experiments such as CCD, etc., and apply computational and graphical methods to analyze the significance of the results.
12. Evolutionary operations (EVOP)
Understand the application and strategy of EVOP.
c. Process capability and performance
i. Process performance vs. specification
Distinguish between process limits and specification limits.
iii. Process performance indices
Define, select, and calculate Pp, Ppk, Cpm and assess process performance.
Understand why DFSS is important to Six Sigma implementation. Understand robust design and functional requirements. Develop a robust design using noise strategies. Understand the concepts of tolerance design and statistical tolerancing. Calculate tolerances using process capability data.
d. Maintaining a solution
i. Standard operating procedures
Define methods for standardizing procedures.
Define and apply methods/examples for error proofing.
iii. Audits Define and apply methods for application.
Define and apply methods for application.