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…

American Indian Science and Engineering Society Leadership Summit 2017

At the AISES Leadership Summit, I had the opportunity to deliver a white belt workshop while in uniform. It was a great way for me to support the active duty recruiting mission as a reservist.

Students and professionals from all over the country converged in Chandler, Az to celebrate the contributions of Native Americans in science and engineering. We trained a small group in the principles of Lean Six Sigma in preparation for the larger national convention later this year.

Capability Maturity Model: Reassessment

Our initial capability maturity model assessment in March of 2016 was eye opening. In spite of using an informal and internal assessment method, the assessment results were a little shocking to the system. An 'F' was the final score; we scored an 'F' even though we provided all of the ratings ourselves based on our subjective understanding of organizational operations.

We also discovered that understanding the CMMI model is a lot easier if you can anchor the conversations in a concrete analogy. We chose hotdogs. As we went through each of our focus questions, we compared our operations against a hotdog stand. So, for Requirements Management (REQM), we asked, "if we were a hotdog business, what level would our requirements management process fit?" At level 0, we are not currently making hotdogs (i.e., not doing Requirements Management). At level 1, we can make hotdogs but we do so inconsistently (i.e., we do Requirements Management sometimes but not others). …