Employees earn post's first black belts
October 28, 2009
FORT JACKSON, S.C. -- Three Fort Jackson employees have earned black belt certification via the Lean Six Sigma training program. In addition, a fourth will be recognized for earning the prestigious credential next quarter.
Lean Six Sigma is a leadership and management-strategy training program, which teaches participants to focus on the processes of organizations to discover solutions and efficiencies.
"We're trying to change the (work) culture," said Jim Olsen, with Fort Jackson's Plans, Analysis and Integration Office. Olsen, too, is participating in Lean Six Sigma training.
Olsen said the post's Executive Quality Council, including the garrison commander, implemented the program at Fort Jackson to facilitate improvements postwide.
The concept, "Lean Six Sigma," refers to efficiency (Lean) and quality (Six Sigma) in organizations. The training gives employees the tools to operate their organizations at a maximum benefit.
Sid Gutman, with the Directorate of Logistics, and Mary Armstead and Janice Spain, both with the Directorate of Human Resources, have progressed from green belt to black belt certifications and were recognized Monday at the Executive Quality Council meeting. Willie Price, also with DHR, was also recognized for earning green belt certification.
Black belt certification -- a level above green belt -- is the third of six achievement steps of Lean Six Sigma. It involves four weeks of training and requires the participant to successfully lead a project with an estimated savings of $250,000.
The Lean Six Sigma process also values projects that reduce the amount of time it takes to complete task or work process.
Gretta Franklin, a functional administrator for Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation who is transitioning from green to black belt certification, recently led a project to streamline cleaning and maintenance orders for the post.
Prior to Franklin's team project, there were more than 250 people ordering paper towels, trash bags and cleaning solutions from a variety of vendors. Franklin said close to 12 different trash bag sizes were being ordered.
Her team standardized trash bag sizes for the entire post and centralized supply orders to one purchasing agent, netting a savings of more than $300,000. She credits her six-member team with the project's success.
"If it wasn't for the team, I couldn't have done this," she said.
Franklin said Lean Six Sigma provides organizational leaders with the tools to solve a problem.
"It looks at the process. Six Sigma weeds out the opinions, (and focuses) on the process and data."
Gutman said Fort Jackson's implementation of Lean Six Sigma is a plus for organizations and training Soldiers.
Gutman led a team that reduced the gear that Soldiers use while in the field.
The project resulted in the material handling personnel being better able to determine what tents and sleeping bags should be fixed instead of simply replacing a damaged tent or bag with a new one.
Gutman said the new process led to the repair of 400 tents and saved Fort Jackson $90,000 in the third quarter.
With the current economic climate being as it is, Olsen said the implementation and the post's success with the program is helping Fort Jackson do "more with less."
Organizations and personnel interested in participating in Lean Six Sigma training should contact Olsen. Training for green belt certification will take place second quarter of 2010.
The garrison commander has approved $2,000 cash awards for those staffers who receive green belt certification and $2,500 for those who receive black belt certification, Olsen said.