Lean Six Sigma courses improve processes at wing

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Julia Sorber
  • 193rd Special Operations WIng Public Affiars
Continuously improving practices ... examining current state processes ... identifying ways to reduce waste and increase efficiency ... The science behind the world-recognized Lean Six Sigma methodology gives businesses - and military units like the 193rd Special Operations Wing - the tools they need to uncover way to improve mission efficiency and effectiveness.  

LSS courses are now readily - and often locally - available for military members to take as part of their continuing education. 

LSS courses provide organizations a tool to eliminate waste and improve processes, with the goal of increasing efficiency and performance while decreasing variation and waste, said 1st Lt. Victoria Harp, 193rd Special Operations Wing director of inspections.

"I would recommend these courses to anyone, as I believe involving your folks in improving the way you do things provides two distinct benefits," said Senior Master Sgt. David Houtz, Lightning Force Academy superintendent with the 193rd SOW, and LSS Green Belt Course participant. "One, you can improve a process. Secondly, your people will feel like they have a say and like they can make a difference."

The first LSS course offered upon request is a one-day Yellow Belt Course, which introduces students to LSS methodologies, identifies the eight types of waste, and teaches the eight-step problem-solving process overview. 

"As we get more belts qualified, you will see this course offered more frequently. However, commanders can request it for their organizations," said Maj. Kathleen Fabrizi, certified LSS Master Black Belt and director of continuous process improvement with the Pennsylvania National Guard.

The second LSS course is the Green Belt Course. This course provides students with an understanding of continuous process improvement principles, basic analytical tools and project management fundamentals. It teaches students how to properly define, scope, team build and process measure, and provides basic analytical tools necessary to improve processes and complete a project, according to LSS information. Prior to attending the course, each student must have a project, with an assigned project sponsor, which is strategically aligned to their wing, group or squadron's organizational strategy.

"My organization had processes to get things accomplished, but it seemed as if everyone had a different idea of what was required to get them done," said Houtz. "I looked at the class as a way to help us better define the processes we had and provide the fundamental tools to establish the continuous improvement process to better serve our customers."

Green Belt Course participants are the "engines that drive process improvement projects within the organization and are a vital part of building a culture of continuous process improvement," according to LSS information.

These courses have produced measurable results, including significant manpower and financial savings at the 193rd SOW.

"My Green Belt Course project for the 271st Combat Communications Squadron improved the readiness reporting process by reducing the time it took from three days to one and a half days," said Tech. Sgt. Kurt Shipkowski 193rd SOW NCO in charge of career development. "This amounts to an estimated savings in man hours of over $38,000 per year."

The third and final course is the Black Belt Course. To take this course, one must have previously completed the Green Belt Course.

"The Black Belt Course is for any trained green belt who is looking to expand their knowledge, learn advanced statistical analysis tools, and prepare to facilitate projects at the group or wing level," said Fabrizi. "Also, black belts can become qualified to teach the Green Belt Course."

Master Sgt. John McNulty, 193rd Special Operations Aircraft Maintenance Squadron supervisor, worked on a Black Belt Course project for the 193rd Special Operations Medical Group to improve the upgrade seasonal training because it appeared to be ineffective with a task completion rate of only 35 percent. McNulty's target for this project was to improve the task completion rate to 75 percent. The outcome actually ended up being 92 percent with a 100-percent performance evaluation pass rate, said McNulty. Additionally, eight of nine students completed their career development courses within two months, an improvement from the existing average of nine months.

Three upcoming LSS courses will be held in 2017. March 20-31 is a two-week Black Belt Course. April 17-21 and June 26- 30 are the two Green Belt courses. PAANG members interested in applying should contact 1st Lt. Victoria Harp at 717-948-3246.