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March 14, 2014

Team Huachuca exhibits synergy in Lean Six Sigma Class

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Ray Ragan
U.S. Army Electronic Proving Ground

The Senior Enlisted Leader of the Joint Interoperability Test Command, Sgt. Maj. Lewis Brown, left, chats with an Army Lean Six Sigma instructor, Moises Alvarez, during a break in instruction in the first week of Lean Six Sigma training at the U.S. Army Electronic Proving Ground, Feb. 25. The class was open to all of Fort Huachuca and attracted students from nearly all the tenant units of Fort Huachuca and students from as far as the Yuma Proving Ground. Interested students need their command support and to register in Army Training Requirements and Resources System for future classes.

Team Huachuca delivered on the team concept to students from many organizations on Fort Huachuca, who recently started the Army Lean Six Sigma Black Belt training at the U.S. Army Electronic Proving Ground.

With students from the U.S. Army Intelligence Center of Excellence, the Army Network Enterprise Technology Command, the Defense Information Security Agency’s Joint Interoperability Test Command, Installation Management Command and several other organizations, the student body represented a cross-section of Fort Huachuca.

“In previous class I have taught, I’ve had Navy, I’ve had Coast Guard, and now in this class I’ve had somebody from a DoD [Department of Defense], element — we have DISA [Defense Information Systems Agency],” said Theresa McFarland, Strategic Planning & Communication Program Manager/Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt for U.S. Army Electronic Proving Ground, who oversaw the class.

Lean Six Sigma is a methodology for process improvement in operations based on facts for sound decision-making. It combines the concept of Lean Manufacturing, which focuses on reducing waste and Six Sigma, that focuses on controlling a process for quality.

According to McFarland, in Lean Six Sigma, there are three levels of training, or belts, as they are called in Lean Six Sigma. The first is the Green Belt, which typically addresses waste in processes and requires about two weeks of training. The next belt level is the Black Belt, which takes four weeks spread over a four-month period, with a week per month. Black Belt holders are expected to have a knowledge and understanding of statistical tools.

“Green belt focuses on the ‘Lean,’ where Black Belt encompasses ‘Lean Six Sigma,” explained McFarland.

“We get more in-depth on advanced statistical application, tools and going through this [class], you have to show an understanding of those tools when you’re doing your project,” McFarland said.

Adding to the Black Belt foundation is the Master Black Belt, which focuses on deep analysis of data. Master Black Belt holders can also teach both the Green and Black Belt courses and certify those projects, as well as provide mentorship to all belt levels.
Students of this Black Belt class were eager to apply the class room instruction to process problems back in their own respective offices and organizations.

Sgt. 1st Class James Burkey, who is the course coordinator and manages resources critical for the training of military intelligence officers at the 304th Military Intelligence Battalion, U.S. Army Intelligence Center of Excellence, already has a Lean Six Sigma project in mind.

“My project is an improvement project for the Reserve Component, MI [Military Intelligence] Captains’ Career Course,” said Burkey.
Basically, we’re trying to create a better equivalency between the RC [Reserve Component] and AC [Active Component] students of the MI Captains’ Career Course, and I think this training can definitely help me achieve that goal.”

For students to be successful, buy-in from the students’ supervisors and leaders in their respective organizations is critical. Training to be a Black Belt in Lean Six Sigma takes four weeks over four months, but for students to become certified, they must complete a project, which takes leadership buy-in, urged McFarland. Without leadership buy-in, projects don’t get completed and belts do not achieve certification.

“Success for me, as an instructor and a student is certification, because they’re taking the class and that’s ultimately what you want,” said McFarland. “Certification means something.”

Students in this class registered previously in the Army Training Requirements and Resources System with the approval of their leadership. Those interested in future classes are encouraged to watch for class announcements through ATRRS and local post newspapers or ask a local Army Master Black Belt.

“Lean Six Sigma is a really useful tool inside and outside the Army,” said Burkey.




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