West Point Introduces Lean Six Sigma Training

Lean Six Sigma was initially developed to reduce waste and improve quality in the manufacturing world, but the methodology has now been successfully applied across a wide variety of industries, including healthcare, the service sector, and now the federal government. The Army executes Lean Six Sigma through its Office of Business of Transformation and that culture of continuous improvement has recently spread to the United States Military Academy, West Point.

In early February, West Point hosted a day-long Lean Six Sigma Yellow Belt certification course. The session resulted in 33 new Yellow Belt practitioners from 10 organizations across the academy. A similar training day in September 2016 resulted in 34 trainees, so West Point now boasts 67 Yellow Belt holders.

Bolstered by the support of local military and civilian leaders who support Lean Six Sigma training, West Point is eager to continue to train cadets, faculty, and staff in an effort to do more with less. Col. Doug McInvale, Math Professor and Master Black Belt, reflected on the recent training session, noting, “We’re just building on years of success by local operations researchers and responding to positive feedback from our recent events.” He also reported that dozens more people are on waiting lists for future training events!

The Army has been reporting cost savings and improved quality for several years as a result of Lean Six Sigma implementation, and West Point hopes to build on that success. The goal is to select a number of the new Yellow Belt holders to continue their training and become Green and Black Belt certified so more advanced problem solving principles can be introduced across the organization. In fact, plans are underway to hold a two-week Green Belt training program on campus during Summer 2017.

McInvale is optimistic about the future of Lean Six Sigma training at West Point. He explained, “Lean Six Sigma is not magic, but the philosophy and tools promote quality across many areas.” He is particularly excited about benefiting the community as a whole by connecting quality people with quality improvement achievements using local processes.

Lean Six Sigma is making a difference in the Army and at West Point and it can dramatically impact your company, too. Interested in bringing Lean Six Sigma Training to your business? Contact us today to learn more about the Lean Six Sigma method and find a training program that fits your needs!

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Lean Six Sigma in the Office

Interior Of Busy Modern Open Plan Office With Workers In

Since gaining popularity, Six Sigma methods have gone a long way towards improving quality and reducing waste in business environments. While Lean Six Sigma methods are often associated with manufacturing operations, Six Sigma training can be used to improve processes in a variety of organizations, including an office setting.

One of the first steps in implementing a new Six Sigma program is choosing which processes to target for improvement. This is particularly important with a new program, because if people don’t see results they’re likely to abandon the program altogether. Are project reports often turned in late? Are frequent interruptions common? Are mileage expenses out of control? These are all candidates for process improvement.

At this point it’s a good idea to get input from employees about which office processes they feel could use improvement. Involving employees early on will encourage their support of the program, setting the stage for a successful Six Sigma program.

Take measurements for the process you’ve selected to see where it is now versus where you want it. If you’re trying to reduce expenses, find out where the money is spent, and how much, then set the goal you plan to achieve. Six Sigma encourages setting definitive goals. Rather than “reduce expenses,” the goal becomes “reduce mileage reimbursement expenses by 10% in 6 months.” This gives employees a specific goal to accomplish within a clearly stated time frame.

Analyze the process and look for areas of improvement. For example, if several people are driving their own cars to outside meetings, increased car pooling could reduce mileage reimbursement costs. Decide on changes to the process, and implement them in order to improve the process. Continue to monitor the process to see if the changes are having the desired effect, make adjustments, and identify other areas for improvement.

These are just a few of the considerations when applying Lean Six Sigma to an office setting. To learn more about using Lean Six Sigma for process improvement in your office, please contact us.

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