Civilian processes become ‘lean’
By Tech. Sgt. David A. Jablonski, Air Force Print News
/ Published August 06, 2003
WASHINGTON -- Air Force civilian personnel leaders want to eliminate procedural bottlenecks and waste by applying a concept called “lean.”
Lean is a way of streamlining processes and making them more efficient by removing waste, reducing cycle time and improving customer satisfaction, according to David W. Davenport, the chief of the re-engineering and development division at Randolph Air Force Base, Texas.
“Lean provides a way to do more with less and less,” Davenport said. “Less human effort, less equipment, less time and less space, while coming closer and closer to providing the customers with exactly what they want.”
The initial target to be “leaned” is the civilian personnel fill process, where the current Air Force standard for a fill action is 100 days. There are three teams working to improve the vacancy-fill process for several civilian occupational series. These five- to eight-member teams include members from the work area being studied, customers and others from outside the area. The teams began this seven-week process mid-July.
A key mechanism for implementing the lean process is the “rapid improvement event.” The first three weeks are spent creating the teams and confirming targets. At the end of the fourth of the seven weeks, the team is expected to have a fully-functioning new process.
“You can see why this is called a rapid improvement process: things happen very quickly to ensure the change process does not become bogged down, and for this reason flexibility and preparation are a must,” Davenport said. “The lean process is a living, breathing and ongoing process for continuous improvement.”
More lean process initiatives are in the works, according to civilian personnel officials. The lean concept was first used by Toyota after World War II and is now used by several leading companies.