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Missouri Guard adopts process improvement and communities of excellence programs

Missouri Guard adopts
process improvement and communities of excellence programs

By Matthew J. Wilson


CITY, Mo. – The Missouri National Guard’s adjutant general is changing the way
business is done in his home state.

Brig Gen. Stephen L. Danner has made eliminating wasteful and
non-value-added activities in Missouri Guard operations a priority by adopting
the National Guard Joint Continuous Process Improvement Initiative and Army
Communities of Excellence programs.

“Bottom line is, I’m all in, in terms of commitment to these
programs,” Danner said. “I believe that
an organization – any organization – must adapt to new ways of doing business
in order to remain relevant.”

The joint continuous process improvement initiative began a year
ago and Missouri, sparked by the Army Community of Excellence program, recently
jumped onboard as part of phase III of the plan. Both programs are designed to
transform organizations and develop better leaders, and are similar to several
successful civilian business initiatives.

“Both of these programs are a way to identify organizational
processes that can be improved,” said Lt. Col. Mike Fayette, director of policy
and strategic initiatives for the Missouri National Guard. “They show ways to
gain greater efficiency. “These programs do it through ownership of the problem
– through individual members of the organization taking ownership of the
process to reinvigorate, improve and make more effective.”

Fayette said instituting a continuous process improvement program
is crucial to the Missouri Army and Air Guard’s future because it will not only
make the organization more cost effective in tough economic times, but it also
will serve as a way to develop leaders.

“The men and women that will be managing the projects and making
the organization better will get unique and outstanding leadership
opportunities,” Fayette said. “So here is an opportunity for somebody to grow
into the understanding of the process of organizational transformation and at
the same time get an opportunity to grow individually within it. If you think
about it, it’s kind of self-perpetuating. Someone is working on improving the
organization and at the same time, they are improving themselves.”

To become part of the joint continuous process improvement
program, Soldiers and Airmen will train to earn a status for their level of
responsibility within Army and Air Guard commands.

Capt. Christopher Ash is the program director for Army Communities
of Excellence Program. He explains the
program as a “systematic evaluation of an organization’s internal processes.”

The heart of the program is an annual Baldrige submission which is
an analysis of the organization. The
end result (feedback report) is a list of programs and processes which require

1st Lieutenant Charity Summers is the program director
for the joint CPI initiative. The
principals of the program are based off of Lean Six Sigma practices. She says
that green belts have the lowest level of responsibility, followed by black
belts, who have a greater level of responsibility, and master black belts, who
have the most responsibility.

“The goal, organizationally, is to have 10 percent green belts, 5
percent black belts and 1 percent master black belts,” Summers said. “The
process for choosing belt candidates is very competitive. The individuals
championed to work process improvement efforts have a proven track record of
professional success. These individuals are change agents in our organization
and are granted the power to make positive change. This is not your typical
military leadership forum.”

there are 16 Guardsmen training in the program.

program is open by appointment by the adjutant general for Army and Air Guard
officers, warrant officers and enlisted, alike.

will be folks who have demonstrated or exhibited exceptional qualities of
leadership that are above their peers,” Fayette said. “These are people who
have been identified as being outstanding performers and have a potential
bright future. We will invest in those folks to ensure the success of the

Process Improvement, Fayette said, is not an original military process.

was born from the business world, so now it’s in almost every sector of our
society,” he said. “It’s in industry, professionals, health care and legal – it
permeates our entire society.”

why Guardsmen who become part of the program also will gain valuable knowledge
and experience for their civilian careers. It also makes Guardsmen who have
been through a similar program prime belt candidates for the Guard’s

For more information about
the Missouri National Guard, please call 1-800-GoGuard or