U.S. Army Embarks on Improvement Using Lean Six Sigma

The United States Army’s Office of Business Transformation is pursuing a 3 year program to improve its operations, and Lean Six Sigma is a big part of it. According to its web page on Lean Six Sigma, the Army has an award-winning, world-class Lean Six Sigma program that it applies as a core capability in its business transformation. The Army is reviewing core business processes to better support its forces, to reduce waste and to improve quality. The ultimate goal is to free human and financial resources for more compelling operational needs. The Army believes the fusion of Lean and Six Sigma improvement methods is required because:

  • Lean cannot bring a process under statistical control
  • Six Sigma alone cannot dramatically improve process speed or reduce invested capital
  • Both enable the reduction of the cost of complexity

The Army’s deployment is one of the largest anywhere. The Army’s Lean Six Sigma program has trained more than 1,450 senior leaders. As of the date of the report on their web site, the Lean Six Sigma community has completed nearly 5,200 projects, and more than 1,900 projects are currently in progress. Completed projects have yielded significant financial and operational benefits at organizations across the Army.

The Army’s use of Lean Six Sigma is part of its effort to transform the Army through the establishment of the Institutional Army Transformation Commission in August 2011. The Secretary of the Army, John M. McHugh, established the Commission in a Memorandum on 15 August 2011. According to the Secretary, “reforming and restructuring the Institutional Army – the Generating Force – is critical to building the Army of the future and supporting the forces of today. It must be as nimble, agile and adaptive as our Operating Force – driven by ideas, innovation and a determination to bring the best services and equipment, training and leaders, medical care and support to our Soldiers, civilians, and their family members.”

I think its safe to say that creating an organization that is nimble, agile, adaptive, driven by ideas, innovation, and a determination to bring the best are all goals that any leader can embrace. I believe that the Army is correct in believing that Lean Six Sigma can help them achieve these goals.

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Author: Thomas Pyzdek

Consultant, author, owner of The Pyzdek Institute