Preserving WAPA’s historical documents

The Continuous Process Improvement Program launched its newest offering, Lean Six Sigma White Belt Training, in January. Since then, 200 employees have completed the course. 

​Those who participated learned basic Lean and Six Sigma principles and received several tools to support improvement work within their day-to-day duties. This course also served as a refresher for those who already have their Green Belts or related training. 

In the two-hour course, attendees received an overview of the five-phase approach to process improvement, learned about a few simple yet powerful tools used in each phase and received hands-on exposure to some of the tools and techniques. 

The training used Visio software to keep participants engaged and to show illustrative, detailed examples of the CPI process and the methods behind it. Instructors used the software to walk through the process with attendees in real time and explain the nuances and details of the methodology while keeping attendees engaged with tools that could be worked through as a group. 

By leading the group through exercises, the instructors encourage attendees to think of the process as another toolset that can be applied to anything. The program used a real-world example to highlight the process-improvement methodology: the process of baking brownies. 

It was a comparison that went over well. 

“I loved the example of baking brownies,” said one anonymous attendee in a post-training survey. “Everyone can relate to that! It was so easy to follow.” 

“I really appreciated the brownies example,” said another. “It really helped me to see the steps of an actual process.” 

This level of active engagement and real-world examples keeps ​attendees focused and helps individual employees to learn to use the tools presented. It also helps them to begin thinking critically of ways to improve processes and create better efficiencies in their day-to-day tasks. 

More than half of WAPA’s reported $114 million in cost savings and avoidance comes from Just Do It projects. These projects are primarily led by individual employees who have identified specific ways to improve work processes and increase efficiencies in their daily work. 

With the increasing number of White Belts across WAPA, the CPI Program hopes to see these benefits grow significantly. 

The White Belt course is also a great resource for supervisors, program managers and even senior leaders. Sharing the Lean Six Sigma language and leading or supporting Just Do It projects can help remove inefficiencies and ultimately improve the productivity of team members. This all supports the CPI Program’s goal of creating a culture of continuous process improvement. 

The CPI Program has two Lean Six Sigma Black Belts – Lead Management and Program Analyst Laura Dawson and Management and Program Analyst Renata Slayton – who are available to answer project questions, guide employees to successful outcomes and provide process improvement training. 

The CPI staff supports WAPA’s 24 certified Lean Six Sigma Green Belts, 55 certified Yellow Belts and now the 200 White Belts as they lead process improvement projects and activities. 

Employees at any Lean Six Sigma skill level are encouraged to leverage these resources and skills to define problems and identify quick wins that can eliminate waste in a process. The CPI Black Belt staff is available to consult on the more complex process problems to help scope the work and ​identify the right tools and techniques for the best outcomes. 

“Our goal is to see that our CPI Program’s mentality is embedded into WAPA’s culture, and that’s what this White Belt training did; we helped embed the mentality and the tools we use across the organization,” said Dawson. “The purpose of this program is to make WAPA more efficient and effective as an organization, and we do that not by owning the entirety of the process improvement work ourselves, but by building the capability across our entire workforce.” 

Dawson noted that, after conducting this training, WAPA saw a significant increase in the community of practice sessions. In each of these monthly sessions, the CPI Program staff performs a deep dive into a single tool from the process improvement toolkit and discusses current improvement projects and activities. 

“We’re leveraging the momentum we’ve built by training so many people,” Dawson said. “Not only does the level of participation show success at embedding the improvement mindset across WAPA, but we’re taking it a step further by including them in our community of practice and hosting ongoing training and support for those attendees.”  

Note: Wiese is a secretary who works under the Miracorp contract.​​

Last modified on March 5th, 2024