Area I civilians problem solvers
CAMP RED CLOUD, South Korea — A process that top officials hope will boost Army efficiency is winding its way down to rank-and-file civilian workers in Area I.
Lean Six Sigma gives civilians an opportunity to change the way they do business while offering them cash incentives for good ideas that turn into projects.
During the past few weeks, Area I commander Col. Rick Newton preached the gospel of the program to civilian employees at Camp Red Cloud and Camp Casey during two-hour meetings.
If this were “just another program,” he said, he would have cut those meetings to 20 minutes each.
The Lean Six Sigma process allows workers to identify paperwork, standard operating procedures and bureaucratic waste that undercuts customer service and makes jobs harder to do, he said.
“If it’s dumb and stupid, let’s stop doing it,” Newton said.
Motorola pioneered the Six Sigma process in 1986 and owns the trademark on the name, according to the company’s Web site. Thousands of companies, including General Electric beginning in 1995, have adopted the process.
Six Sigma refers to the theory that a process should not have more than 3.4 defects per million opportunities. In practice, it’s become a buzzword for identifying a process that isn’t working in a small group, and looking for ways to save money or time, or improve quality.
Area I’s Lean Six Sigma program also can be about boosting customer satisfaction or employee morale, Newton said.
“It doesn’t have to be about material things … it can be about people,” he said.
Any civilian worker can propose a project. If it’s selected, that worker will receive $250 and more awards if the project has wider implications, Area I officials said.
Workers gather in small teams, spending 5 percent to 10 percent of their time on the project, according to Area I documents.
The first phase calls for a team to define a problem and understand why processes are not working correctly.
The second phase asks teams to measure a problem and identify its causes. The team then must analyze the root causes, identify and implement solutions and, finally, figure out how to sustain benefits.
Area I has one project related to evaluating vehicle costs that has entered the “analysis phase,” the third of five phases, said Robert Ludka, Area I plans, analysis and integration officer.
“All the other projects are still in the ‘define’ phase,’ ” he said.
Other Army areas in South Korea also are conducting projects that currently are in their initial phases, Ludka said.
The program has been promoted actively at the Department of the Army level for about two years, but only now is making it to garrison levels as leaders complete training courses, officials said.