The University of Oklahoma’s Lean Institute certified 11 students in the Lean Six Sigma Green Belt course in January at the Tinker Business and Industrial Park in Midwest City.
The course teaches process improvement and organizational efficiency tailored to fit the specific needs of each client and organization: improving workflow, improving quality, reducing defects and increasing profitability.
“When I read these reports, I almost broke into tears,” Green Belt instructor Joyce Hinton said to the class. “I’m so proud of you guys.”
The Lean tools are used for streamlining work, increasing speed and reducing waste, while the Six Sigma is a data-driven approach and methodology for eliminating defects which use statistical tools to pick apart projects and learn what was exactly impacted. More than 10,000 employees at Tinker AFB have attended Lean Institute training since the department’s creation in 2004, and much more people from a wide range of industries have attended public training like this one in recent years.
“Lean is often associated only with the manufacturing sector, but the bulk of these projects deal with administrative processes in other fields and use the tools very effectively,” said Dr. Marc Jensen, Lean Institute program coordinator.
Students were Green Belt certified after presenting projects that improved streamlining registration processes, material management and request for qualifications processes. Certified Green Belts are now eligible to participate in the annual public Black Belt class that begins in the first week of February.
“We had several students from the law firm DeBee Gilchrist. I was very happy with their results,” Jensen said. “The law firm was skeptical that they could apply these tools to their industry, but they were very happy with their results, too.”
Omar Al-Shareef from Kimray told the class after his presentation that he was at first nervous about the project, wondering if he could pull it off, but he said, now that he knows the basics, he is excited to move on to bigger projects without that intimidation.
“Being in a classroom setting and then presenting their work helps polish their own understanding and learn how to stand up to scrutiny,” said Jensen. “They are in the same situation they would be with upper management, so their data must be clear and correct.”
Students presented to the class their processes, struggles, successes, data, and lessons learned. The project is considered a success and the student deserves the certification if they are able to use all of the Lean and Six Sigma tools appropriately within the class and then understand and explain the results. Hinton asked the students to think about the following challenging questions: Where have we been in the past, and how can we improve this? How could these improvements fail? How do we maintain and sustain successful improvements?
“We are continually working to adapt, update and reinvent the Lean toolset, to help people see new applications for it. The Lean Institute has programs available that provide practical skills at all levels,” Jensen said.
For more information about the Lean Institute, visit lean.ou.edu.