Lean Six Sigma – Learn it, Do it

Joe Monchecourt
21st Theater Support Command

Lean Six Sigma –
Learn it – Do it.

That’s about the most efficient way to put it, in paraphrasing the importance of the business concept that has been adopted by the Army and set into motion at the 21st Theater Support Command.

“Lean Six Sigma is not going to go away,” said Lt. Col. Thomas Fluker, chief of Operations Research Systems Analysis. “If we can’t do things better and smarter, we will become irrelevant, and we will go away.”

Colonel Fluker said that because of the backdrop of transformation in Europe, the 21st TSC is forced to analyze its processes and develop ways to show measurable savings in costs, time and manpower.

In a nutshell, that’s what Lean Six Sigma is: A business process aimed at reductions of cost and cycle time while improving quality of output.

“LSS is a business process that’s been around for a long time,” Colonel Fluker said. “They’ve called it a lot of different things. It has several key components. And it is very measurable.”

***image1***U.S. Army Europe designated the 21st TSC to become the first command in Europe to implement LSS because cost savings can be best seen in a manufacturing type environment, such as in the type of work that is done at the General Support Center-Europe, Colonel Fluker said.

“One of the things that the Army wants us to do very efficiently is the reset or reconstitution program,” he said, alluding to the reconstitution work that is done at the GSC-E,” he said.

“People come back from downrange and got a bunch of equipment that’s been rode hard and put away wet, and they want us to take the equipment and fix it in a certain amount of time.”

“Part of the process is to determine if we can fix it in a cost-effective way,” he said. “But the whole process of taking something that is broken and getting it back to the unit has a lot of steps.”

The process is very metric-oriented, and the key to everything is to know the processes, Colonel Fluker said. “In order for me to look at something in terms of Lean Six Sigma, I have to go from the beginning to the end. I have to be able to say what every step is. I have to be able to quantify each one  in terms of who works on it, how much time is in involved, what is being done, and so forth.”

Lean Six Sigma is very quantifiable, he said. “I have to prove this scientifically that this will save money. Colonel Fluker said that Lean Six
Sigma has taken on paramount importance because of the rigid defense budget constraints and the Army transformation that is currently underway in Europe.

Colonel Fluker pointed to fact that USAEUR is getting smaller and that the 21st TSC’s mission is primarily combat service support.

“We exist only to support, deploy, transport the warfighter,” he said.
A future smaller workforce is pretty much a reality, he said.

“The challenge now is to become more efficient,” he said.

Colonel Fluker said the next step for the 21st TSC is to apply LSS during the command’s current pilot project.

“After the pilot project, the executive steering committee will look at potential projects to save time and money, and then we will rank them,” he said.