ARLINGTON, Va. (March 25, 2010) - A guidebook focusing on how National Guard units can incorporate the Continuous Process Improvement initiative into organizational activities was recently released by the National Guard Bureau.

CPI is a process of evaluating ways in which tasks or missions are performed and provides a process to streamline those tasks to reduce waste and increase efficiency.

The guidebook, which is geared mainly toward the CPI deployment directors in the 54 states and territories, provides a framework for developing a CPI plan and the ways and means to go about meeting the goals and expectations of the initiative, said Air Force Lt. Col. Barbara Morrow, acting CPI deployment director at NGB.

"It assists the states in deploying the CPI initiative in their area, so that everybody has a common framework from which to work with," she said.

While the Army and Air Force had their own separate programs to increase efficiencies, the CPI program combines elements from both services.

"We looked at the DoD initiative," said Morrow. "We looked at the Army and Air Force initiatives. We looked at all those, and industry standards, and what the guidebook looks like for those people and then we came up with our own using best practices of what was already out there. We didn't re-invent the wheel, I assure you."

It was then vetted through the CPI board and others who oversee the program.

"We didn't do this in a vacuum up here at the Guard Bureau and then push it out to the field," said Morrow.

The guidebook establishes training standards as well as the requirements for certification within the program.

"We go through all the training that is offered," said Morrow. "Along with the training, it includes what steps you need to go through for certification."

It also provides a similar function for coaching and mentoring within the program.

"The guidebook doesn't provide (coaching and mentoring), but it does define what coaching and mentoring is," said Morrow.

As each state and territory comes online with their own CPI programs, state program managers will be able to refer to the book in order to tailor their programs to their state's needs.

"I'm hopeful that this will be information that will maybe put them at ease, that it's not this crazy, flavor-of-the-month thing that we're doing," said Morrow. "There is a framework, there is a structure and there is a thought process to what we're doing."

The thought process behind the CPI initiative will hopefully result in a culture shift of sorts, said Morrow.

"The CPI initiative is not a thing that you do," said Morrow. "It's a methodology and a culture shift to take the National Guard Bureau and turn us into a data-driven organization."

Helping to facilitate that culture shift is where the guidebook comes in.

"It's really the backbone," said Morrow. "Without this guidebook, then it would be left up to chance. The guidebook lets everybody know what the expectations are and how they can use them in their state."

(Army Sgt. 1st Class Jon Soucy writes for the National Guard Bureau.)