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Cold Steel leaders learn new methods to help workflow

Choon H. Young, a course instructor and strategic planner employed by the Washington Military Department, addresses Cold Steel soldiers of 189th Infantry Brigade (CATB), First Army Division West Feb. 1, 2022. Photo credit: Staff Sgt. Scott J. Evans

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JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD - In the military, a vital skill of being a successful leader while improving the organization in which you are employed is having the ability to consistently evaluate processes and determine more efficient means of accomplishing requirements in a more effective way.

With this goal in mind, 19 Cold Steel leaders assigned to 189th Infantry Brigade (Combined Arms Training Brigade), First Army Division West, participated in the three-day Lean Six Sigma Green Belt Course, a nationally recognized military class taught at the National Guard level, at the Pierce County Readiness Center at Camp Murray, Feb. 1-3, 2022, to develop their skills in determining interactive methods of improving operations.

"The training has two phases," said Choon H. Young, the course instructor and strategic planner employed by the Washington State National Guard. "This one, Lean Six Sigma Green Belt training, which (reviews) processing improvement and using a lot of different tools for helping organizations to better eliminate waste that can really infect a lot of its work."

Young believes the training, which is taught with a combination of Power Point, in-class simulation, and group activity format, has been an effective training tool for service members in developing their problem-solving skills over the years.

"Even from listening to what they have learned from one day of training, they were able to use the training," Young said. "I have seen a lot of money and time saved for the Washington National Guard."

Over the years, the course has formed into a multi-dimensional and comprehensive program.

"The Lean (component) is more about eliminating the waste and improving the process to make things flow smoothly, while Six Sigma is more about finding variations in trying to achieve 100 percent of what the organization requires with no mistakes or defects while developing professionalism when it comes to producing and manufacturing things," Young said. "What the students eventually do in our organization is they are supposed to help other brigades, battalions, and companies in identifying waste and help them to eliminate it." 

The participants were eager to take the course to develop individual skills in a collaborative environment.

"I learned about this course through 2-358th (Armor Battalion), said Capt. Caleb Long, a military police officer assigned to 3-364th Brigade Engineering Battalion, 189th Infantry Brigade, (CATB), First Army Division West. "It helped shape the thinking of those leaders over there of not doing unnecessary things. I think our brigade does a great job of that, but it's good to reenforce these good habits throughout the formation."

Besides methods development, the student leaders also recognized other ways in which the training will be useful going forward in their careers.  

"I think one of the things about the class that is beneficial, especially for senior leaders, is sometimes our lane gets narrowed as we focus on our occupation and our essential duties,  (and) being in a class like this allows us to open up and focus on bigger topics on a bigger scale by problem solving issues with an organization, but also allows us to better ways to communicate with members within our ranks," said Master Sgt. Nicholas Wiley, a military police NCO also assigned to 3-364 Bde. Eng. Btn, 189th Inf. Bde. (CATB).

Overall, the course was seen by the class to be means of developing themselves professionally.

"I see it as another step of improving my abilities to be a manager of complex (issues) and also just a better leader," Long said. "I was looking to improve myself so I could be a better teammate and contribute the best way I could to help those around me and be value added to the team."

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