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Green Belt equips Airmen to improve processes


The 50th Force Support Squadron manpower and organization office is hosting a Green Belt Class at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado, Dec. 3-7.


Green Belt is part of the Air Force Continuous Improvement Process, which increases operational capabilities while reducing associated costs by applying proven techniques to all processes associated with fulfilling the Air Force mission.


“The Air Force has really moved toward improving processes for many reasons, but essentially because we are in a fiscally constrained environment,” said Derek Hamby, 50th Space Wing manpower and organization chief. “Everything depends on money and our continued mission success depends on us making sure we can do things smarter.”


A representative from Air Force Space Command will work alongside Brandon Schirm, 50th SW CIP program manager, to teach the curriculum to the 17 people signed up for the full class.


“We take you through different tools to outline what you’re looking at and really define what your problem is,” Schirm said. “The skills people will learn translate to both paper or people challenges.”


According to Hamby, the Green Belt class falls in line with the 50th SW’s mission of evolving space and cyberspace warfighting superiority through integrated and innovative operations.

“Innovation is the key word,” Hamby said. “Green Belt goes hand-in-hand with the 50th SW’s Innovative Warfighters Advancing Readiness program.”


Through iWAR, Airmen are encouraged to submit an idea or proposal after consulting their respective leadership chain. Ideas or proposals should enhance mission, save Airmen’s time, increase customer satisfaction and provide other benefits to the wing. After submission, Airmen are then given a chance to present their ideas to leadership.


“Green Belt is a skillset people can use to flesh out their ideas within the iWAR program,” Hamby said. “This is very much a strategic-level tool people can use to create change.”


Upon course completion, attendees will know how to accomplish a CIP Event Charter, a document that helps people develop their problem and impact statements as well as define their scope.


“It’s designed to help give people that proper focus and vector,” Schirm said. “People oftentimes want to shoot for the stars in terms of fixing problems, but sometimes you have to reel it in to be realistic and to ensure your goal is attainable.”


Once they’ve completed the course and have at least one year and one CIP event under their belt, people can apply for their Green Belt certification.


Green Belt mirrors other improvement processes in the corporate world like Six Sigma and Lean Processes Improvement.


According to Hamby, the Air Force is doing its best to learn from successful major corporations to see what practices can be adopted.


“We are different in that we aren’t for profit,” Hamby said. “They’re trying to save money to make money. We want to be able to serve and defend our country to the best of our ability and that starts by making sure we’re doing things the smartest way possible.”


Hamby and Schirm have set a goal to host three or four classes a year, with a certified Green Belt in each squadron. However, due to the way the course curriculum is designed, the class maxes out at about 18 people. Hamby encouraged people to immediately sign up when the classes are advertised.


Schirm added it’s also a way to become a more rounded Airman and valuable asset to the Air Force.


“In addition to helping identify and fix problems, this is also the type of thing that could help set you apart on promotion boards,” Schirm said. “If you have two people whose records are otherwise similar but one person is certified in fixing problems, that’s going to go a long way.”


Schirm said he’s more than happy to help people through the Green Belt CIP.


“My role is to be a mentor in this process,” he said. “I can help evaluate the scope and help you narrow your processes.”


Hamby closed by saying this investment by the Air Force in its people and processes has short and long term benefits.


“As with most programs, they don’t work without senior leader buy-in,” he said. “The people going through these programs are going to be our future leaders; they’re starting a process now that will help them keep an open mind on innovative solutions to problems. That will be key to the future success of our Air Force.”

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