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Body of Knowledge for the Master Black Belt (MBB) Certification

Body of Knowledge

Multiple-Choice Section – 100 Questions – 2½ hours

Download the Master Black Belt Body of Knowledge. (PDF, 251 KB)

The topics in this Body of Knowledge (BOK) include descriptive details (subtext) that will be used by the Exam Development Committee as guidelines for writing test questions. This subtext is also designed to help candidates prepare for the exam by identifying specific content within each topic that may be tested. The subtext is not intended to limit the subject matter or be all-inclusive of what might be covered in an exam but is intended to clarify how the topics relate to a Master Black Belt’s role. The descriptor in parentheses at the end of each entry refers to the maximum cognitive level at which the topic will be tested. A complete description of cognitive levels is provided at the end of this document.

  1. Enterprise-wide Planning and Deployment [25 questions]
    1. Strategic plan development
      Describe strategic planning tools and methods (hoshin kanri, SWOT, PEST, etc.) and their utilization in developing enterprise planning. (Apply)
    2. Strategic plan alignment
      1. Strategic deployment goals
        Describe how to develop strategic deployment goals. (Apply)
      2. Project alignment with strategic plan
        Describe how to align projects to the organizational strategic plan. (Apply)
      3. Project alignment with business objectives
        Describe how projects are aligned with business objectives. (Apply)
    3. Deployment of six sigma systems
      Describe the following key deployment elements. (Apply)
      1. Governance (quality councils or process leadership teams)
      2. Assessment (maturity models and organizational readiness)
      3. Resource planning (identify candidates and costs/benefits)
      4. Resource development (train and coach)
      5. Execution (deliver on project results)
      6. Measure and improve the system (drive improvement into the systems, multiphase planning)
    4. Six sigma methodologies
      Demonstrate an advanced understanding of the following methodologies, including their associated tools and techniques. (Apply)
      1. DMAIC
      2. DFSS
      3. Lean
      4. Business systems and process management
    5. Opportunities for improvement
      1. Project identification
        Facilitate working sessions to identify new project opportunities that can be prioritized. (Apply)
      2. Project qualification
        Determine the elements of a well-defined project (i.e., business case), the process for approving these projects, and tools used in project definition (QFD, process maps, value stream maps, FMEA, CTx (critical to … customer, … design, … quality), etc. (Apply)
      3. Stakeholder engagement
        Describe to how to engage stakeholders. (Apply)
      4. Intervention techniques
        Describe techniques for intervening across levels to prevent potential project failures to drive success. (Apply)
      5. Creativity and innovation tools
        Use these tools to develop concept alternatives. (Apply)
    6. Risk analysis of projects and the pipeline
      1. Risk management
        Use risk management and analysis tools to analyze organizational elements, to appraise portfolios and critical projects, and to identify potential problem areas. (Evaluate)
      2. Pipeline creation
        Create, manage and prioritize a pipeline of potential projects for consideration. (Create)
      3. Pipeline management
        Create a selection process that provides a portfolio of active six sigma opportunities that are clearly aligned and prioritized to meet/exceed strategic goals. (Create)
    7. Organizational design
      1. Systems thinking
        Apply systems thinking to anticipate the effect that components of a system can have on other subsystems and adjacent systems. Analyze the impact of actions taken in one area of the organization and how those actions can affect other areas or the customer, and use appropriate tools to prevent unintended consequences. (Analyze)
      2. Organizational maturity and culture
        Describe the implications these factors can have on six sigma implementation, including potential barriers. (Understand)
      3. Organizational culture change techniques
        Describe techniques for changing an organizational culture, such as rewards and recognition, team competiveness, communications of program successes, and appropriate cascading of goals throughout the organization. (Apply)
    8. Organizational commitment
      1. Techniques to gain commitment
        Describe how to gain commitment from the organization’s leadership for the six sigma effort. (Understand)
      2. Necessary organizational structure for deployment
        Develop the inherent organizational structure needed for successful deployment. (Apply)
      3. Communications with management
        Describe elements of effective communications with management regarding organizational benefits, failures, and lessons learned. (Apply)
      4. Change management
        Describe the MBB role in change management and apply various techniques to overcome barriers to successful organizational deployment. (Apply)
    9. Organizational finance and business performance metrics
      1. Financial measures
        Define and use financial measures, including revenue growth, market share, margin, cost of quality (COQ), net present value (NPV), return on investment (ROI), cost-benefit analysis, activity-based cost analysis and breakeven time performance etc. (Analyze)
      2. Business performance measures
        Describe various business performance measures, including balanced scorecard, key performance indicators (KPIs), and the financial impact of customer loyalty; and describe how they used for project selection, deployment, and management. (Analyze)
      3. Project cash flow
        Develop a project cash flow stream. Describe the relation of time to cash flow and difficulties in forecasting cash flow. (Analyze)
      4. Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX) Act
        Understand the requirements for financial controls dictated by SOX. (Understand)
  2. Cross-functional Competencies  [15 Questions]
    1. Data gathering
      Assess the appropriate collection of Voice of the Customer and Voice of the Process data, both internal and external, and develop a customer-focused strategy for capturing and assessing customer feedback on a regular basis. (Evaluate)
    2. Internal organizational challenges
      1. Organizational dynamics
        Use knowledge of human and organizational dynamics to enhance project success and align cultural objectives with organizational objectives. (Apply)
      2. Intervention styles
        Use appropriate intervention, communications, and influence styles, and adapt those styles to specific situations (i.e., situational leadership). (Apply)
      3. Interdepartmental conflicts
        Address and resolve potential situations which could cause the program or a project to under-perform. (Apply)
    3. Executive and team leadership roles
      1. Executive leadership roles
        Describe the roles and responsibilities of executive leaders in the deployment of six sigma in terms of providing resources, managing change, communicating ideas, etc. (Analyze)
      2. Leadership for deployment
        Create action plans to support optimal functioning of master black belts, black belts, green belts, champions, and other participants in the deployment effort. Design, coordinate, and participate in deployment activities, and ensure that project leaders and teams have the required knowledge, skills, abilities, and attitudes to support the organization’s six sigma program. (Create)
  3. Project Management  [15 Questions]
    1. Project execution
      1. Cross-functional project assessment
        Appraise interrelated projects for scope overlap and refinement and identify opportunities for leveraging concomitant projects. Identify and participate in the implementation of multi-disciplinary redesign and improvement projects. (Analyze)
      2. Executive and mid-level management engagement
        Formulate the positioning of multiple projects in terms of providing strategic advice to top management and affected mid-level managers. (Create)
      3. Project prioritization
        Prioritize projects in terms of their criticality to the organization. (Apply)
    2. Project oversight and management
      1. Project management principles
        Oversee critical projects and evaluate them in terms of their scope, goals, time, cost, quality, human resources requirements, communications needs, and risks. Identify and balance competing project demands with regard to prioritization, project resources, customer requirements, etc. (Evaluate)
      2. Measurement
        Support and review the development of an overall measurement methodology to record the progress and ongoing status of projects and their overall impact on the organization. (Evaluate)
      3. Monitoring
        Apply appropriate monitoring and control methodologies to ensure that consistent methods are used in tracking tasks and milestones. (Apply)
      4. Project status communication
        Develop and maintain communication techniques that will keep critical stakeholders and communities apprised of project status, results, and accountability. (Create)
      5. Supply/Demand management
        Generate accurate project supply/demand projections, associated resource requirements analysis, and mitigate any issues. (Create)
      6. Corrective action
        Facilitate corrective actions and responses to customers about the corrective action and its impact. (Apply)
    3. Project management infrastructure
      1. Governance methods and tools
        Develop governance documents, tracking tools, and other methodologies that will support project success. (Create)
      2. Performance measurement
        Design a system for measuring project and portfolio performance. (Create)
    4. Project financial tools
      1. Budgets and forecasts
        Assess and explain budget implications, forecasting, measurement, monitoring, risk analysis, and prioritization for portfolio level projects. (Evaluate)
      2. Costing concepts
        Define the concepts of hard and soft dollars and use cost of poor quality tools, activity-based costing, and other methods to assess and prioritize portfolios. (Apply)
  4. Training Design and Delivery (10 Questions)
    1. Training needs analysis
      Assess the current level of knowledge and skills in each target group in relation to the skills and abilities that are needed. Conduct a gap analysis to determine the training needs for each target group. (Evaluate)
    2. Training plans
      Design training plans to close the knowledge and skills gaps. Refine the plans based on the number of people needing to be trained in a particular technique or skill, and whether multi-disciplinary or multi-level competency training is appropriate. (Create)
    3. Training materials and curriculum development
      1. Adult learning theory
        Evaluate and select training materials and resources that adhere to adult learning theories. (Analyze)
      2. Integration
        Ensure that the training harmonizes and leverages other tools and approaches being used and that it is aligned with the organization’s strategic objectives and culture. (Evaluate)
      3. Training delivery
        Monitor and measure training to ensure that it is delivered effectively and efficiently by qualified individuals. (Apply)
    4. Training effectiveness evaluation
      Develop an evaluation plan to assess and verify the acquisition of required knowledge and skills. (Create)
  5. Mentoring Responsibilities  [10 Questions]
    1. Mentoring champions, change agents, and executives
      1. Project reviews
        Collaborate with executives and champions on reviewing projects, including timing, questions to ask, and setting expectations for project timing and completion. (Create)
      2. Project sizing
        Collaborate with executives and champions on sizing projects and selecting individuals and assignments for various projects. (Evaluate)
      3. Communications
        Coach executives and champions on the need for constancy of purpose and message, and the importance of using clear communication techniques and consistent messages. (Evaluate)
      4. Feedback
        Use constructive techniques to provide feedback to champions and executives. (Evaluate)
    2. Mentoring black belts and green belts
      1. Individuals
        Develop a career progression ladder for black belts and green belts. Assess their progress and provide constructive feedback to enable them to work effectively on team projects. Use coaching, mentoring, and intervention skills as needed, including cancelling or reassigning projects if necessary. (Evaluate)
      2. Technical reviews
        Create guidelines and expectations for project reviews, and perform them in a timely manner. Assist project leaders in selecting appropriate content for presentation to management. (Create)
      3. Team facilitation and meeting management
        Practice and teach meeting control, analyze team performance at various stages of team development, and support appropriate interventions for overcoming team challenges, including floundering, reviewing and diagnosing failing projects, etc. (Create)
    3. Mentoring non-belt employees
      Develop information that will help non-belt project participants to advance their understanding of six sigma and develop the necessary skills and knowledge to become green belts or black belts. (Create)
  6. Advanced Measurement Methods and Tools [25 Questions]
    1. Measurement systems analysis (MSA)
      1. Propagation of errors
        Use this technique to evaluate measurement systems and calculated values. (Evaluate)
      2. Attribute (discrete) measurement systems
        Use various tools and methods (e.g., percent agreement, Kappa, Kendall, intra-class
        correlation coefficient (ICC) to analyze and interpret discrete measurement systems data.
      3. Variables (continuous) measurement systems
        Use various tools and methods (e.g., - R, - s, individual and moving range) to analyze and interpret continuous measurement systems data. (Evaluate)
      4. Process capability for non-normal data
        Calculate capability using Weibull and other methods for non-normal data. (Apply)
    2. Measuring and modeling relationships between variables
      1. Autocorrelation and forecasting
        Identify autocorrelated data, including time-series modeling (e.g., ARIMA) and forecasting. (Understand)
      2. Multiple regression analysis
        Apply and interpret multiple regression analysis, including using variance inflation factors (VIFs) to identify collinearity issues. (Apply)
      3. Logistic regression analysis
        Apply and interpret logistic regression analysis, including binary, ordinal, and nominal data considerations. (Apply)
      4. Model fitting for non-linear parameters
        Apply and interpret fits of models that are non-linear. (Apply)
      5. General linear models (GLM)
        Apply and interpret GLMs using assumptions and assumptions testing. Compare and contrast GLMs with various other models, including ANOVA results, (crossed, nested, and mixed models) simple linear regression, multiple regression, ANCOVA and continuous MSA. (Apply)
      6. Components of variation
        Select, calculate, and interpret components of variation and nested design studies. (Evaluate)
      7. Simulation
        Apply simulation tools such as Monte Carlo, dynamic process simulation, queuing theory, etc. (Apply)
      8. Linear programming
        Understand how linear programming principles, such as critical path analysis, can be used in modeling diverse types of problems (e.g., planning, routing, scheduling, assignment, design) to optimize system performance. (Understand)
      9. Reliability modeling
        Use reliability modeling and tools to enhance reliability of a product or process and reliability growth modeling. (Apply)
      10. Qualitative analysis
        Use appropriate qualitative analysis tools (affinity diagrams, force field analysis, etc.) and analyze the results. (Analyze)
    3. Design of experiments (DOE)
      1. Factor analysis
        Apply and interpret factor relationship diagrams. (Apply)
      2. Complex blocking structures
        Recognize other designs for handling more complex blocking structures, including balanced incomplete block design (BIBD). (Understand)
      3. Other DOE approaches
        Recognize when other DOE approaches (e.g., response surface methodology (RSM), mixture experiments, evolutionary operations (EVOP), split-plot designs, Taguchi, D-optimal designs, etc.) should be applied. (Understand)
    4. Automated process control (APC) and statistical process control (SPC)
      Recognize when to use APC instead of or in conjunction with SPC. (Understand)

Topics for Performance-based Section of Certified Master Black Belt (MBB) Essay Responses in Two Phases — 2½ hours

Candidates will be presented with a fictional multi-division organization that is reviewing multiple six sigma projects of various sizes. Each proposed project will be led by individual black belts and their teams. Candidates will have 2 hours to write their response to opened-ended questions about these projects. Details will be presented in two sets of documents: Phase 1 will be Day 0 and will focus on project selection. Phase 2 will be presented as if 6-8 weeks have gone by since the start of the projects.

At the start of the performance-based portion of the exam, candidates will be given 10 minutes to familiarize themselves with the background information and proposed projects. Candidates can then allocate their time on the two phases as they like.

Phase 1 — Candidates will be asked to prioritize projects and explain their reasoning in terms of project value and order. Responses will be scored on elements such as the rationale used for ranking the projects in a specific order, the content of presentations created in support of those choices, communications with staff at various levels in relation to those selections, etc., as outlined in the performance-based BOK descriptions below.

Phase 2 — Candidates will be given updated information on each project and asked to respond to those conditions. Responses will be scored on elements such as analysis or evaluation of the projects based on their updates, insights on the cause of the problems and creative solutions, time and resource management, interpersonal skills for conflict resolution, and other skills required of high-level, multi-project leaders, as outlined in the performance-based BOK descriptions below.

PB-1. Enterprise-wide Planning and Deployment
Apply project selection criteria to select and prioritize potential six sigma projects using strategic planning tools, immediate- and long-term business goals, executive-level directives, risk analysis results, etc. Develop and deliver formal presentations that support the project selection process, identify progress, explain its status at conclusion, etc.

PB-2. Cross-functional Competencies
Use feedback and process data from various sources to identify or develop six sigma projects that will respond to customer needs, eliminate process barriers, or streamline processes, especially for managing projects that cross boundaries either within or between organizations. Use appropriate communication methods that are sensitive to specific audiences when explaining projects or solutions, encouraging participation, or resolving issues that arise between interorganizational groups

PB-3. Project Management
Develop and manage the scope, schedule, cost, and risk of six sigma projects using various project management tools to ensure proper monitoring, milestone achievement, and project success. Recognize when intervention steps must be taken to bring a project back on track or terminate it based on analysis of internal or external events.

PB-4. Training and Mentoring
Identify situations that require training or mentoring for all levels of participants in six sigma projects, from executive level champions to non-belt participants. Develop, review, and deliver information, training, or mentoring as needed for a variety of six sigma projects, based on needs analysis, participant requests, or recognition of situations that require intervention.

Levels of Cognition based on Bloom’s Taxonomy – Revised (2001)

In addition to content specifics, the subtext for each topic in this BOK also indicates the intended complexity level of the test questions for that topic. These levels are based on “Levels of Cognition” (from Bloom’s Taxonomy – Revised, 2001) and are presented below in rank order, from least complex to most complex.

Recall or recognize terms, definitions, facts, ideas, materials, patterns, sequences, methods, principles, etc.

Read and understand descriptions, communications, reports, tables, diagrams, directions, regulations, etc.

Know when and how to use ideas, procedures, methods, formulas, principles, theories, etc.
Break down information into its constituent parts and recognize their relationship to one another and how they are organized; identify sublevel factors or salient data from a complex scenario.

Make judgments about the value of proposed ideas, solutions, etc., by comparing the proposal to specific criteria or standards.

Put parts or elements together in such a way as to reveal a pattern or structure not clearly there before; identify which data or information from a complex set is appropriate to examine further or from which supported conclusions can be drawn.

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