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Improving the process

Green Belt

Blake Enneking, Manpower Specialist from Whiteman Air Force Base and Shellie Nelson, 185th Air Refueling Wing, Military Pay Specialist stand in front of a week’s worth of great ideas stuck to the wall on October 18, 2018. Nelson is in training this week in order to become “Green Belt” certified in continuous process improvement at the Sioux City, Iowa based Air Guard unit. U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Master Sgt. Vincent De Groot

Sioux City, Iowa -- This week 185th Air Refueling Wing Military Pay Specialist Shellie Nelson is becoming a sort of Ninja Warrior in the realm of continuous process improvement. Nelson is being mentored by Blake Enneking who works as a Manpower Specialist at Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri.

The week-long instruction at the Sioux City, Iowa Air Guard unit also involves members from a broad cross section at the Air Refueling Wing, whose focus is on improving training documentation using CPI methods.

“Doing a disciplined systematic approach to problem solving is not what we are used to in the Air Force” said Enneking.

According to Enneking this week’s event is two-fold. Train the facilitator, while at the same time focus on a real issue at the 185th that is in need of improvement. Nelson is being trained this week in order to be one of the first at the Sioux City, Iowa based Air Guard unit with a “Green Belt” in CPI. The rest of the group is made of unit training managers, supervisors and people who are in the midst of upgrade training.

“It is a way to herd people into a solution. It’s taking a meeting where we usually just talk and actually putting ideas into action at the end of the day,” Nelson commented when talking about facilitating CPI.

During the week long instruction participants dug into the weeds using CPI methods in order to find ways to improve the way the organization documents training. According to Nelson the desire is to get individual Airman through their required upgrade training, on time and on target.

Although the focus of the week-long instruction is on improving processes surrounding training, according to Enneking CPI methods can be applied to any subject.

“It is a process of continuous process improvement regardless of how big or small they are.” Enneking explained. “Setting the team on the path towards improvement is really what we are aiming for, it’s more of a target verses a goal and that’s what we want the team to understand.”

Eventually the goal of the program is to train more people like Nelson to become CPI facilitators at all the various organizations that make up the 185th Air Refueling Wing, using Nelson as the Wing process manager.

“My desire is that what we have come up with in the last few days actually gets implemented, and that it actually makes a difference. I hope that it does streamline the process for training, and I hope it does free up time for everyone.” Nelson added.

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