DoD to host a performance symposium open to all

Tuesday - 5/18/2010, 10:31am EDT

J. D. Sicilia, director, Lean Six Sigma program, DoD

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By Suzanne Kubota
Senior Internet Editor
FederalNewsRadio.com

"Do more with less, and do it better, faster and cheaper" is just one reason being give to attend a symposium on improving performance by the Defense Department.

It's open to all agencies, and takes place June 8 through 10 in Northern Virginia. More than 500 experts in performance improvement will give their tips and techniques, including the highly effective Lean Six Sigma process.

J. D. Sicilia, the director of the program office for the Defense Department, told Federal News Radio Lean Six Sigma "comes into play trying to close the gap between the desired level of performance and our baseline."

Sicilia said Defense has applied the process across the department from acquisition to human resources and more.

If there's a process involved in some sort of output or outcome, then there's an application to review that process, find out what's keeping it from performing at its optimum level, and then put together a plan that will fix it and sustain that performance over time.

The process is broken down into two parts: the lean and the six sigma. "Lean," said Sicilia, is focused on reducing waste.

Say a process has 15 steps in it. After a lean application it may only have seven, so you've reduced it down by 50 percent on the number of things that have to happen. The Six Sigma piece is then looking at those remaining 7 steps and finding out what it is that happens in each step and what kind of errors or defects may creep in that would cause either a poor outcome or rework.

Sicilia made it sound so simple: find out what's going wrong, identify the root cause and then eliminate the defects. And he said it can be used on nearly any process.

Our methodology is that we will look at an enterprise end-to-end process, and we will attempt to solve the problem on a smaller scale, on a more tightly scoped project. And then demonstrate that it works and then use replication across the other components so that we solve it first at a smaller level and we work out the bugs and make any adjustments that we need to, and then we deploy it across the enterprise with a higher degree of confidence that it will work.

Learning to use it is like learning just about any other tool: performance improves with practice. Attendees of the symposium will have the chance to learn more about Lean Six Sigma and other ways to improve business performance as well as how to use them effectively.

The keynote address, said Sicilia, will be delivered by Jeffrey Zients, Deputy Director for Management of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), and the Federal Chief Performance Officer.

And if all that isn't enough incentive to attend, this item also appears on the schedule: Wine Tasting from Six Sigma Winery.

It would appear Six Sigma really can be applied to nearly every process.