NAVAL AIR SYSTEMS COMMAND, PATUXENT RIVER, Md. – Continuous process improvement (CPI) practitioners must hone their data analysis skills to provide better value for their customers, according to Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) senior leadership during the two-day NAVAIR 2018 CPI Training Symposium held at the Southern Maryland Higher Education Center in California, Maryland, on July 24-25.
Almost 200 CPI practitioners from across all four services and several Navy systems commands (SYSCOMs) attended the two-day training event—the first gathering of its kind in nearly 10 years.
“My daily job is readiness. Every time I look at production, it’s always rooted in CPI,” said Martin Ahmad, Deputy Commander for Fleet Readiness Centers and Director of Industrial Operations for Logistics and Industrial Operations, in his opening remarks. “There’s also an important linkage between CPI and the digital revolution. The foundation of CPI has always been data.”
NAVAIR Deputy Commander, Garry Newton, the event’s keynote speaker, said CPI skills used in concert with data science, data analytics and artificial intelligence will be key in deciding where to apply NAVAIR resources. “The process begins with defining customer value added (CVA),” he said. “Practitioners can help our customers understand what their CVA is. That is a key step in obtaining support.”
Newton asked practitioners to look for ways to increase productivity and expand their reach across competencies and SYSCOMs. “CPI has been used to make small, incremental changes over time. Where we can make a dramatic difference is to apply CPI to process design that will address the goals of the larger organization,” he said.
Process design, the act of designing a completely new process rather than improving an existing one, is the approach NAVAIR is using for its latest crowd-sourcing initiative on hiring, Newton explained. The Hiring Challenge, the first of its kind in the Navy, kicked off July 16. It asks NAVAIR and Navy SYSCOM workforces to develop an improved process to reduce the Navy’s hiring cycle time to 45 days or less.
Employees have stepped up to the challenge. “More than 200 people have signed up to collaborate and design a process to get the best talent in the U.S. Navy,” Newton said.
The need for CPI practitioners to tap into the large volumes of data available across NAVAIR was reemphasized in the symposium’s closing session by NAVAIR leadership. Serving on the panel were NAVAIR Assistant Commander for Corporate Operations and Total Force Stephen Cricchi; Executive Director, Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division/NAVAIR Deputy Assistant Commander for Test and Evaluation Leslie Taylor; and NAVAIR Assistant Commander for Logistics and Industrial Operations (AIR 6.0) Tom Rudowsky.
“When we started CPI in 2005, the challenge was how to identify projects that would have high impact and determine what the core projects were,” Cricchi said. “Thirteen years later, are in a data-rich environment. We have complex data sets that use artificial intelligence, machine learning and predictive algorithms. With this information, we can do powerful things.”
Rudowsky shared how data is changing the way his organization will make decisions in the future. “We are moving [Logistics and Industrial Operations] closer to the flight line,” he said. “This means that everyone in the organization knows their role and their relevance in support of the warfighter.”
CPI will help Corporate Operations and Total Force meet leadership’s demand for information as well, Cricchi said. “Our business processes are being transformed by the power of digital analytics. When we deliver new process automation capabilities, I expect CPI to be in greater demand.”
Taylor said she believes CPI should be a part of every conversation when it comes to the business of Naval Aviation. “We must continue to press to make the organization better today and even better tomorrow,” she said. “CPI practitioners and the tools they possess need to be fully unleashed as we move toward increasing teaming across organizational boundaries.”