District's first Lean Six Sigma green belt certified employee
(Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- Albuquerque District project manager Bernadette Gronewold received her Department of the Army Lean Six Sigma (LSS) Green Belt certification, Dec. 31, 2016.

There are three levels of certification within the Army and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

(USACE): green, black, and master black belt. Gronewold is the only green belt certified employee in the Albuquerque District, USACE.

Gronewold describes Lean Six Sigma as "a methodology that relies on a collaborative team effort to improve performance by systematically removing waste. Lean Six Sigma projects comprise aspects of Lean's waste elimination and the Six Sigma focus on reducing defects, based on Critical to Quality (CTQ) characteristics."

Gronewold's path to certification took two steps. First, in the spring of 2016 she attended two separate one-week training sessions at USACE's South Atlantic Division in Atlanta, Georgia. At the end of the course she completed a required written examination over all the material.

To finish the second step, Gronewold had to complete a project following the Define-Measure-Analyze-Improve-Control (DMAIC) improvement process. Her project was titled "Make Small Projects More Cost Effective." The goal was to reduce the pre-award labor costs percentage on small projects in the District from the current average of 14 percent to 11 percent, which is more in line with the pre-award labor costs of large projects. In Albuquerque District, this translates to approximately $537,000 in cost avoidance per year. The project will continue on as more data is gathered and process improvements are made to reduce the pre-award labor costs on small projects. The project was timely for the District as the District's workload has shifted from large to small projects over the last three to four years.

"I have always enjoyed figuring out why we operate, how we operate, and how to improve our operations here at USACE. Acquiring my Lean Six Sigma Green Belt has given me the tools to help me define, measure, analyze, improve, and control the processes that need evaluation here at USACE," said Gronewold.

"Prior to Bernadette becoming certified I was the only certified belt (black belt) in the District," said Greg Allen. "Bernadette will continue to be an excellent resource to the organization with the knowledge she has gained through the certification process. As a Lean Six Sigma certified belt she now has the training and skills to use various methods and tools to make process improvement efforts and gain efficiencies throughout the district."

Currently the District does not have any other employees working on certification, although Greg Allen said the District could send someone to the training in fiscal year 2018.

Related Links:

Albuquerque District website