With the Air Force looking to become more efficient every day, Scott Air Force Base offers a program designed to empower every Airmen to identify and resolve wasteful, ineffective or unsafe ways of doing business.
The Green Belt program is a structured course training individuals to facilitate Continuous Process Improvement events.
The focus of this training is to equip selected Airmen or civilians at any unit with the tools to assist organizations in maximizing value and minimizing waste in the wing’s operations.
“It’s about finding ways to work smarter, not harder,” said Nick Cardozo, chief of quality services and risk management at the 375th Medical Group. “The program is not just looking at how we can accomplish tasks better, but figuring out why we do it a certain way and whether each task in a particular process is relevant, productive, and valuable.”
Green Belt certification, the first of three expertise levels, introduces core methods, tools, problem solving strategies and facilitation.
The two higher levels, Black Belt and Master Black Belt, differ in the scope of projects individuals work on to increase efficiency.
Some of the key principles within the class include improving flow and reducing waste within a process, focusing on factors that degrade product quality, identifying and overcoming process constraints, and redesigning processes.
The next CPI Green Belt certification class, scheduled for the third week of February, begins with five days of classroom instruction. After course completion, participants work to grow as CPI facilitators. They will observe and help facilitate CPI events, leading to their solo event where they will put their skills to work by leading a team through the entire improvement process.
“Anyone can become a Green Belt,” said Cardozo. “There are prerequisites established by the Air Mobility Wing CPI office that include attending the AF 8-Step Problem Solving course and the week-long Green Belt class. Individuals interested need a recommendation letter from their leadership prior to attending the class.”
To prevent rank from being a communication barrier, students attend the Green Belt class in civilian clothing to promote equal contribution during problem-solving scenarios.
Lt. Col. Kim Sunderland, 375th Medical Operations Squadron Mental Health Flight commander, is the MDG’s newest certified green belt.
“I have had an interest in doing process improvement for a long time,” said Sunderland. “I believe the skills I have gained are helping me to have a greater impact on the organization and its bigger mission in a way that I would not have been able to have before with efforts primarily being focused on the flight level.”
Sunderland is currently working on her first CPI event since earning her certification.
“While earning my green belt, I was able to guide my own team within my flight to increase appointment utilization by approximately 30 percent,” said Sunderland. “I encourage excitement and motivation because the returns can be big when the process is done correctly.”
Cardozo said he wants members of Scott AFB and the Air Force as a whole to find ways to eliminate waste from everyday processes so as to maximize effort in taking care of the mission.
“Who doesn’t like finding ways to save people time, money, and man-hours?” asked Cardozo.
Find a mentor, talk to your supervisor, or call him, said Cardozo, but most importantly: just get involved.
For more information on becoming a Green Belt visit the 375th AMW SharePoint site and click on AF CPI under the staff agencies tab.