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Michigan National Guard Embraces Business Process Improvement

April 10, 2018 | By Webmaster
By Angela Simpson, JFHQ Public Affairs Office LANSING, Mich. (March 22, 2018) – Anyone who has ever thought or said, “There must be a better way to do this,” has engaged in the initial stages of Lean Six Sigma (LSS) thinking. “Maximizing efficiency while minimizing waste,” is a common description new students use to condense what they know about LSS,” said Capt. James Stansbury. He and fellow LSS instructor, Dr. Colin Wasiloff, were at MING Joint Force Headquarters in Lansing last week to lead a day-long LSS White Belt class for Michigan National Guard staff members interested in learning about process improvement. Stansbury, an Army Black Belt holder and Master Black Belt candidate, is the Continuous Process Improvement (CPI) Deployment Director for the Michigan Army National Guard Business Transformation Office. He is the LSS Special Projects Officer within the Program Executive Office for Army Ground Combat Systems, and he earned a Master of Business Administration degree from Excelsior College in Albany, New York in 2017. His goal is to help develop the Business Transformation Office such that it becomes the first call directors make when a problem arises or when a new goal is introduced to a unit, or even when leaders just want their teams to approach ‘work’ in a new way. “It’s amazing how much a group learns about a process once they start taking it apart,” Wasiloff said. “One of my favorite examples is the older dairy operator who, with only one working eye, was trying to read a milk vat dial that had become clouded with age and hazy with moisture. The vat was losing milk at such a rate that the company was facing bankruptcy because it could not meet demand production rates. Once the dial and gauge was replaced with a clear-faced, larger font, accurate model (that cost a whopping $15), most of the production problem was immediately corrected and the company was saved!” Wasiloff, the CPI Deployment Director at TARDEC, the U.S. Army Tank-Automotive Research Development and Engineering Center, in southeast Michigan, is an Army Master Black Belt who also holds a doctorate of engineering degree. In his experience with tracked-vehicle process improvement projects, he recalls watching a tank technician walk about 30 yards back and forth repeatedly, all day long, to retrieve and replace tools kept in a stationary tool chest along one wall of the shop. “The guy said just for fun he tracked the distance with a fitness watch and found that he averaged walking five miles a day!” That walking, and really any extra movement (like picking parts up off the floor or carrying them from one location to another for assembly) is considered process waste or Non-Value Added time which, in LSS terms should be minimized as much as possible. The White Belt class members had fun coming up with alternate ways the technician could secure the tools he needed. A shortened form of the Green Belt class that delves into the numerous tools a team can use to assess and restructure a process, the White Belt class offers an overview of the DMAIC Philosophy and Lean Six Sigma strategy. DMAIC stands for: Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, and Control. It’s the ‘Scientific Method’ of analysis, only set in a business environment instead of a laboratory. Earning a White Belt however, isn’t quick and easy, it requires a full day of study and an exam. But it offers students a glimpse of process improvement possibilities that they might be a part of facilitating within their own work groups. Anyone interested in learning more about classes offered by the Business Transformation Office, or looking for project facilitation can contact Capt. Stansbury at or 563-340-3987.