ISO18404:2015 What is a Six Sigma Master Black Belt

Welcome back to the official Services Limited ISO18404:2015 blog, a fountain of Lean/Six Sigma knowledge where and when you need it! Feel free to browse through past blogs and if there’s something you want to know, please ask us!

It has been a short while since our last blog and a lot has happened within that time at Services Limited. For starters, we ran our world-first ISO18404-focused Master Six Sigma Black Belt course at our Charnwood House country location.

This brings us on to the point, what is a Six Sigma Master Black Belt?

Well, Six Sigma Master Black Belts are considered to be experts in their field, and according to the new International Standard, ISO18404, they are the top of the Six Sigma practitioner pyramid.

Master Black Belts are responsible for the deployment of Six Sigma within their organisation, including supporting the development of other key Six Sigma personnel within the organisation.

According to ISO18404, the new International Standard for Lean and/or Six Sigma deployment, A Master Black Belt is required to do the following things:

  • Lead improvement projects as required;

  • Determine if Six Sigma training activities are appropriate and effective;

  • Provide training in one of more of the tools and techniques;

  • Work with Six Sigma Black and Green Belts as required;

  • Assist in the identification of suitable improvement projects;

  • Assist in the determination of the scope of the selected improvement project;

  • Assist in periodic reviews of the improvement projects;

  • Provide 'internal' consultancy in advanced statistics;

  • Provide support so that improvements identified within the nominated projects are realised and maintained;

  • Coach and mentor the Black Belts in the application of the DMAIC methodology and the selection and use of the tools and techniques required.

What do companies look for in a Six Sigma Master Black Belt?

In the past, it was possible to obtain certification as a Six Sigma Master Black Belt just by testing knowledge. With the introduction of ISO18404, this has the potential to be eradicated. Now, what they can do matters more.

Though, if we move ISO18404 to one side for a moment, most companies have always had that minimum requirement. An ideal candidate for a Master Black Belt role would perhaps ideally have:

  • Over 2 years of Black Belt experience;

  • Good business experience, usually in excess of 5 years;

  • A full mastery of tools;

  • Past delivery of training to Green and Black Belts, with a reasonable number of successfully coached project completions;

  • Strong change management, written and verbal communication skills.


The new International Standard, ISO18404, is seen by some organisations as a game changer and a much-needed breath of reassurance to a market that has become badly damaged by bad practice.