Memorial Day Thanks & Links to Lean in the Military

Memorial Day Free Download Poster, Graves at Arlington National Cemetery, American Flag, Veterans Day HolidayI know about 35% of you are reading from outside of the United States, but it is a national holiday here today, Memorial Day. It is a day to remember those who gave their lives in service to their country and for the cause of freedom around the world.

For those of you who are interested, I’ll share a few links to Lean and Six Sigma efforts in the United States military:

Air Force Smart Operations for the 21st Century” is :

…the Air Force’s dedicated effort to maximize value and minimize waste in all of our processes. Our Mission is to establish a community of continuous process improvement within HQ ACC that leverages the benefits of the collective experience, expertise, tools, and best practices across the command.”

U.S. Army’s “Office of Business Transformation” uses Lean and Six Sigma as complementary methodologies, saying:

The two methodologies interact and reinforce one another, such that percentage gains in Return on Investment Capital (ROIC%) are much faster if Lean and Six Sigma are implemented together.

In short, what sets Lean Six Sigma apart from its individual components is the recognition that you cannot do “just quality” or “just speed,” you need a balanced process that can help an organization focus on improving service quality, as defined by the customer within a set time limit.

The U.S. Navy is also using Lean and Six Sigma:

And a video from the U.S. Army:

Thanks again to those who serve and those who have served. I don’t have any military experience and I wouldn’t pretend to know the first thing about military service. But, I have been impressed about the sense of mission and purpose that those who do Lean and Six Sigma work in the military have for the troops. I’d imagine Lean and Six Sigma can be applied to support operations and logistics… but I’ve also seen a Shingo Prize presentation by a General who talked about using Lean to compress the “value stream” (if you will) for the Army calling in for an air attack from the Air Force… they focused on improving communications and reducing delays to get ordinance to where it’s needed more quickly.

Recent news about the killing of Osama Bin Laden referenced the idea of    “shortening the kill chain,” which may or may not be a Lean reference…

Feel free to add links to other good case studies or articles about Lean in the military.

Creative Commons License photo credit: Beverly & Pack


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Mark Graban's passion is creating a better, safer, more cost effective healthcare system for patients and better workplaces for all. Mark is a consultant, author, and speaker in the "Lean healthcare" methodology. He is author of the Shingo Award-winning books Lean Hospitals and Healthcare Kaizen, as well as The Executive Guide to Healthcare Kaizen. His most recent project is an eBook titled Practicing Lean that benefits the Louise H. Batz Patient Safety Foundation, where Mark is a board member. Mark is also the VP of Improvement & Innovation Services for the technology company KaiNexus.

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