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Combat Center Chases Efficiency

22 Jun 2012 | Capt. Nick Mannweiler

Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, Calif.  — The Combat Center Business Performance Office received recognition June 14, 2012 when three instructors were awarded certificates for earning senior instructor status in the Marine Corps’ Continuous Process Improvement program.


The achievement isn’t just a personal one for the program’s instructors, it means the Combat Center is the first command to reach CPI self-sufficiency with the ability to train new instructors.

The program is a Department of the Navy initiative, borrowed from the corporate world and used by major global businesses. The Marine Corps uses the program’s tools to improve combat readiness, increase warfighting capability and improve quality of life for Marines, sailors and their families. Practitioners of the program learn tools to make programs and procedures more efficient through reducing waste, standardizing work and fixing bottlenecks.

The BPO instructor staff has shared their knowledge across the installation with both Combat Center staff and tenant units, creating a talent pool of six black belts, 192 green belts and over 1,200 yellow belts. Each of these personnel returns to their unit or work center equipped to begin the transformative projects that will save their co-workers time, money and resources while meeting their individual unit missions. The Combat Center has even provided support in teaching the program to other Marine Corps commands, such as 9th Recruiting District and the Marine detachment at Fort Leonardwood, Mo.  To provide this training through commercial routes would have cost the Combat Center $1.9 million.

Graduates of the program have completed over 60 projects aboard the Combat Center, saving $7.9 million dollars by improving the way we do business. The return on investment is gaining the Combat Center more attention. Every year, the military services’ CPI teams gather at the Performance Management Symposium in order to present their shining stars from the year’s projects and compete for selection of the top project for the entire Department of Defense, and a year’s bragging rights. This year, the Marine Corps will compete using a project from aboard the Combat Center.

Staff Sgt. Jennifer Smith, Installation Personnel Administration Center, analyzed and tackled the complex process for new students to check into the Corps’ largest technical skills school, the Marine Corps Communications-Electronics School. More than 44 groups of incoming students were processed by the IPAC during fiscal year 2010. From her analysis, Smith reduced total labor hours per new Marine by    51 percent, from 29 hours of processing to just 15 hours. Over 22 steps of the process were eliminated based on her work and the IPAC met its three-day audit requirement for newly joined Marines’ service record books. The project is a case study in how the Combat Center implements CPI to make work life better for the Marines, sailors and civilians that live and work here. The Corps’ culture is one of innovation and constant improvement and this program is an extension of that culture.

“We’ve reached self-sufficiency. We’re the first installation in the Marine Corps to reach self-sufficiency. But the goal now is to reach maturity in our program,” said Dr. Alex Pacheco, director, Combat Center BPO. “We already have senior leadership buy-in and tremendous grass roots support for our efforts. But we need the middle management, the staff non-commissioned officers and company grade officers, to understand that this isn’t just something else on their plate.

“This can greatly impact and improve their workplaces and job performances. Once we have their buy-in, that’s where we’ll really take off,” he added.

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Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms