U.S. Army saving $2 Billion from LSS


    Army Article

    We've had a few posts about the LSS efforts of the military, including the Army and Air Force.

    Here's an article from the Army (hat tip to iSixSigma's blogs) that spells out the savings. It looks like they are focused on good basic “blocking and tackling”:

    • Reducing mass hall waste at West Point (officers-in-training receiving Green Belt training and being asked to work projects)
    • Streamlining communication processes to reduce waste and delays
    • Reducing recruitment process steps from 32 to 11

    It's hard to see, on the surface, how that adds up to $2 Billion. There must be multitudes of projects all throughout the Army that start adding up.

    Sounds like good work by the Army. Congrats! Thanks for using our tax dollars more efficiently.

    Here's more on the Army effort, from their main website about the effort, their “Business Transformation Knowledge Center.”

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    Mark Graban
    Mark Graban is an internationally-recognized consultant, author, and professional speaker, and podcaster with experience in healthcare, manufacturing, and startups. Mark's new book is The Mistakes That Make Us: Cultivating a Culture of Learning and Innovation. He is also the author of Measures of Success: React Less, Lead Better, Improve More, the Shingo Award-winning books Lean Hospitals and Healthcare Kaizen, and the anthology Practicing Lean. Mark is also a Senior Advisor to the technology company KaiNexus.


    1. Mark, I would not necessarily fit streamlining the communications process of the military in with basic blocking and tackling. I would assume, although I have never served in the military, that this process is quite complex. Perhaps folks with military experience can comment on this. But definitely agree with your last comment and second the congrats to the excellent men and women of the Army.

    2. Jack Welch once said “if I added up all the reported savings from six sigma projects, it would have exceeded the GDP of most countries.” Are these soft savings, or will they really spend $2B less? Soft savings are great, but don’t say you are saving $2B unless you actually spend $2B less, and I doubt that’s really the case.

    3. At what point do we consider the benefits to be hard savings? When an exchange system the size of JC Penney returns money to the Army to spend elsewhere? When the Army returns money to DOD to spend in another service? When DOD returns money to the federal coffers to spend on social services? Or when the govt decreases its budget and reduces the taxpayer burden?

      Soft or hard might depend on how you define the scope of the organization and its income statement. In any case, the government is reducing waste and variation (or the 3M’s if you prefer) and that’s a good thing by most accounts.

    4. The army will never return money. They will always spend everything they get on whatever they can. They would just rather spend it on guns and soldiers than overhead. Cost savings is NOT cost savings to the taxpayer. It is strictly cost savings to the army so they can spend the money in other ways.

    5. Having family who work in State agencies, I have “hands-on” exposure to this. In both State and Federal government, you are not rewarded for saving money. If you return money from your budget this year, your budget next year is reduced further. Even if you have justifiable expenses, those who have been “promoted to their level of incompetency” will not approve funding. Then you are left with broken down machines and processes.

      Simply saving money isn’t enough. The government is no different than business. If the traditional measurements/funding beliefs used by managers above you aren’t changed, you will not reap the rewards of your savings.

      Obviously, they need to afford Secretaries, UnderSecretaries, and all the other high-level staff somehow…


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