Six members of Regional Health Command Europe graduated from the U.S. Army Medical Command’s new Lean Leader course July 20 during a ceremony held at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center.
The five-day course is aimed at providing practical tools for personnel to optimize processes in MEDCOM units. The class is an opportunity for students who aren’t planning to spend the extensive time required to earn Lean Six Sigma green or black belt certification but are looking for tools to reduce waste and boost efficiency in their organizations.
“Our customers wanted a way to give their people valuable tools to identify and eliminate waste without sending them away for weeks at a time for green or black belt training,” said James Pauly, RHCE Strategy and Innovation acting director and Lean Leader course instructor.
An average person might think of garbage when they hear the term “waste,” but in Lean Leader training, waste has a very different and specific meaning. According to Pauly, there are seven kinds of waste that can be identified in organizational processes:
“Waste is anything that detracts from or prohibits optimum efficiency in a process,” Pauly said. “We give our students the tools they need to seek and destroy waste. We teach them how to map and evaluate the process in question, break down the problem, identify the root cause(s), and develop and implement solutions.”
The course is structured to connect learning and application in a practical way. Students are asked to bring a problem area to class from their organization that is process-based so they can apply tools to a real-world scenario.
“Students should leave with an understanding of lean tools — tools that help organizations identify and eliminate waste in their day-to-day processes and on a continual basis,” Pauly said. “We want them to strive for perfection.”
For the six graduates from the first course in the KMC, the benefits can already be seen.
“When I came to this course, I thought Lean Six Sigma was a waste of time from what I had heard from other people who have not taken this course,” said one of the students in the post-course evaluation. “But actually, being part of this class has given me a better perspective and tools that I can now implement at my work and even in my personal life.”
Right now, the course is only available within the Army’s Regional Health Command Europe, which encompasses medical, dental, public health and veterinary units throughout the European theater. There is interest in adopting the MEDCOM Lean curriculum and making it available Army-wide as early as next year, according to Pauly.