From Activity to Effectiveness: Unifying Efforts with a Common Vision and Roadmap

In 2012, the Navy reorganized the administration of pay and personnel under a consolidated organizational hierarchy. Part of the reason for the reorganization was to improve the capabilities and standardization of the Command Pay and Personnel Administrators (CPPA).Work began immediately on improving systems for CPPAs, improving training for CPPAs, improving policy for CPPAs, etc. The work was somewhat unbalanced though, because some streams of the development could proceed much more rapidly than others. In fact, the difficulty surrounding lack of synchronization among the development streams created significant friction on more than one occasion. Because the pace of improvements accelerated in 2017-2018 to coincide with other developments around the domain, these lack of synchronization difficulties became unbearable. Through a series of weekly meetings with a cross-section of stakeholders, we carefully documented requirements for a mature CPPA capability and then mapped these …

AISES and SWE 2018

I continued to support the Navy’s recruiting mission in 2018 by attending the American Indian Science and Engineering Society conference and the Society of Women Engineers conference. At the conferences, we provided instruction in lean six sigma fundamentals as a way to support the conference communities and to acquaint participants with Navy career opportunities. We also participated in the career fair to have a better opportunity to share details with individuals interested in Navy career paths.

Lean Six Sigma Milestone: 1,000 Students

At the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) annual conference, professionals crowded in to the room to hear the Navy presentation on Lean Six Sigma.
A total of 82 students packed a room designed for 50; somewhere in the room is my 1,000th student!

The good news is that the demand for Lean Six Sigma content remains strong; young professionals clearly see the link between process improvement skills and career advancement.
If there is bad news, then it lies in the Navy's drifting away from the tools and techniques of Lean Six Sigma toward other process improvement systems.

This may in fact be the end of a chapter --- we are now looking ahead to DESIGN THINKING as a way to improve Navy processes.

DESIGN THINKING captures the basic essence of Lean Six Sigma, but it focuses more deliberately on design from an end-user's perspective.
Okay, so now it is time to find my first DESIGN THINKING student!

Everyone Likes to Win!

With our most recent round of Green Belt training, I've now trained 965 students in the principles of lean six sigma.

The command emphasis on lean six sigma has shifted and now focuses on a simplified approach that centers around Lean Kata.
I've also switched roles which means I do a lot less training nowadays. I'm not sure if I'll ever get a chance to reach the 1,000 lean six sigma student milestone.

However, one thing has been constant. Regardless of the composition of the students, regardless of the simulation used, and regardless of the setting --- everyone like to win.
Something about a team-based problem solving simulation is very intrisinically motivating, especially when coupled with competition.
If I could bottle this level of motivation and bring it back to the job site, process improvement would explode.

The winning crew from the most recent course is pictured here. Although they didn't break any world records, they did a nice job of eliminating was…

Packing the Room at Society of Asian Scientists and Engineers National Conference

For the Navy Lean Six Sigma workshop at Society of Asian Scientists and Engineers National Conference, we expected 48 attendees based on pre-registrations. When 113 people showed up, we worked with the conference staff to bring in some extra chairs and pack the room.

The attendees were very engaged throughout the workshop and left with a fundamental understanding of lean, six sigma, and theory of constraints.

Note to the fire marshal: we stayed within the 159-person room capacity limit.

Just Hanging Out with an Astronaut

I recently attended the 2017 American Indian Science and Engineering Society National Conference in Dever as a presenter. During the conference, I had the opportunity to meet Navy CDR (ret) John Herrington, the first person registered with a Native American Tribe to go into space. He was really interesting and friendly. He is pictured here in the center.

Hawthrone Effect, Theory of Constraints, and Travel Claim Processing

While not a controlled experiment, I had the opportunity recently to observe a version of the Hawthorne Effect applied to travel claim processing.

For decades, the standing goal for travel claim processing has been 30 days from the end of travel (TVL End) to paid. Conventional wisdom viewed the standing goal as somewhat unrealistic though, because a portion of the timeline is dependent on the customer's timeliness. Wisdom says that if the customer submission lag is very long, then the travel claim processor cannot meet the 30-day goal.

In mid-July, a large backlog of claims at JAX caught the attention of upper management. The backlog was not unusual, but management interest in the backlog was something new. Upper management began to pay a lot of attention to the JAX travel claim processing operation and communicated this interest with frequent inquiries.

Without any additional resources, the JAX team shifted into high gear and wiped out most of the backlog by the end of the mont…