DMA personnel complete Black Belt training

Maj. Gen. Timothy P. Williams, the Adjutant General of Virginia, recognizes Virginia Department of Military Affairs personnel who completed Lean Six Sigma Black Belt training May 18, 2018, in Richmond, Virginia. (U.S. National Guard photo by Cotton Puryear)

SANDSTON, Va. — Maj. Gen. Timothy P. Williams, the Adjutant General of Virginia, presented certificates to 12 Virginia Department of Military Affairs personnel who completed Lean Six Sigma Black Belt training May 18, 2018, in Richmond, Virginia. Along with 13 personnel who completed Green Belt training in March, this cadre of LSS practitioners will go to work looking at ways to improve efficiencies, reduce waste and increase readiness across the Virginia National Guard. LSS is a scientific method used for identifying waste and driving out variation in business processes. Four personnel from outside Virginia also completed the training.

“As a lean practitioner for nearly 30 years in the aerospace defense industries and a certified Lean Six Sigma Black Belt since 2004, I can honestly tell you that I am thrilled to have this many students completing this important program,” said Brig. Gen. Lapthe Flora, Virginia National Guard Assistant Adjutant General for Army Strategic Initiatives. “It will be a culture change for the betterment of our organization. Lean Six Sigma is all about efficiency, and it is focused on minimizing process variations for better quality, so you don’t have to repeat the work twice and reduce process cycle time to gain productivity, so it doesn’t take days or months to get a task complete.”

LSS is a team-based approach that is facilitated by a trained Black or Green Belt. Through multiple process mapping, brainstorming sessions, extensive data analysis, teams of Soldiers, Airmen, members of the Virginia Defense Force and civilians from throughout Virginia worked to develop several ways to improve processes.

The VNG’s most recent project, suggested by Lt. Col. Jeffery Cree, deputy U.S. Property and Fiscal Officer, ultimately resulted in reducing reimbursement cycle time from 49 days to less than 25 days, earning a significant operational effectiveness, late payment penalty fee avoidance and individual productivity. Other planned projects include improving post-flight school progression for aviators, improving Soldier readiness processing, improving Soldier evaluation processing, optimizing training resource coordination, requests and tracking, improving processing time for annual training orders and improving pay timelines and accuracy.

“At the end of the day it is all about cost saving,” Flora said. “We as leaders need to do everything we can to maximize the use of American tax dollars. We are constantly asking our Soldiers and Airman to do more with less. But there are only 24 hours a day and the funding is finite, so the only option is to examine our processes to see where we can lean out all the non-value added steps and properly document it as a best practice, and then implement it as our policy.”

In November 2017, the Lean Six Sigma deployment for the VNG began with project identification, alignment to strategic objectives, key performance metrics such as cost, time and quality, and assignment to belt candidates. Formal training took place between February and May 2018.

Great ideas can come from people who might be experiencing problems in their work areas, and Flora said that anyone can identify a process for improvement. If you have an idea or suggestion for a potential issue or process that you would like to have considered to be addressed through the VNG LSS program, please go to the following Virginia Knowledge Online site and submit your suggestion: https://go.usa.gov/xQMmB. A CAC login is required to access the site.

If you would like more info on the VNG LSS program, please contact  Mr. Butch Downing, LSS Deployment Director, by phone at (804) 236-7776 or by email at  maurice.e.downing.civ@mail.mil.