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Minnesota National Guard
Minnesota National Guard Gets Lean on Process Improvement

Minnesota National Guard ST PAUL, Minn- The end of the war in Iraq and the budget constraints of the military have begun a time of trimming the fat, getting lean and maximizing more with less The Minnesota National Guard has been training Soldiers and Airmen in process improvement for years using Certified Process Improvement (CPI) courses as a way of creating the mindset of continuous improvement In January, eight more members of the Minnesota National Guard attended a Certified Process Improvement course at the 133rd Airlift Wing, Fort Snelling

"The training prepares the students to solve complex problems," said Reed Mick, Lean Six Development Director, Minnesota National Guard "This problem solving allows the organization to conserve resources, achieve strategy, and provide improved services to leaders and Soldiers"

According to Army G1, Lean Six Sigma is a process improvement methodology that focuses on eliminating waste and reducing variation 'Lean' refers to removing non-value added steps, or cutting out steps that provide no benefit The "Six Sigma" portion is statistically-based and represents an occurrence rate of only 34 defects per million opportunities When you combine the two, the result is a process that saves time and money and improves customer satisfaction It is appropriate to apply the principles of LSS when working with a repeatable process

Within the LSS world, there are varying levels of certification Similar to martial arts, LSS uses the belt system to distinguish between different levels of knowledge The highest-ranking belt is a Master Black Belt, while the lowest ranking belt is a White Belt

Sgt Stephanie Malm, Administrative Non-Commissioned Officer, 34th Infantry Division, attended the Intro to Certified Process Improvement course at the 133rd in November and was highly impressed with what she took away from the training

"CPI, to me, isn't just a onetime project where you collaborate with co-workers and spend hours upon hours trying to fix massive issues," said Malm "CPI is a way of thinking and can, and should, be implemented with day-to-day processes to - this is my favorite - do less with less!"

CPI/LSS can be used in all processes of the military from deployments to the motor pool The Minnesota National Guard and the military overall is using CPI/LSS training to transform its business processes to become more streamlined, agile and efficient For this to be the most effective, it needs to gain commitment and dedication from each and every member across the organization

"This really is about developing a culture of continuous improvement throughout the organization," said Mick "The training then, provides the adequate skills to do that"

"While the fiscal challenges facing the Department of Defense are great, I am convinced that the Minnesota National Guard can provide maximum effects while minimizing costs," said Maj. Gen. Richard C Nash, Minnesota National Guard Adjutant General

January 16, 2014
by Sgt John Angelo
Minnesota National Guard Public Affairs

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