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Should we have our continuous improvement resources report directly to functional owners or manage them from a central team?

If your organization has decided to have dedicated Black Belts, Lean Leaders, etc. (full-time process improvement employees), the best organizational structure will depend on the organizations’ understanding of Six Sigma. If your organization is new to Six Sigma, the team should be centralized. If the Black Belts (BB) report directly to the functional leaders, those leaders rarely understand how to optimize a BB resource. The BB is usually viewed as a flexible resource and ends up helping with firefighting rather than fire prevention. In this case, a central team that has tight control can ensure that BBs are properly utilized. On the other hand, if the functional owners in an organization have been BBs and/or understand how to utilize BBs, functionalizing BBs is usually a better choice. Functionally aligning the BBs gives control of those resources to the person who is responsible for the results. This alignment helps ensure that BB projects get the support necessary to be successful.