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Maximizing efficiency, innovation through CPI

A redesigned logo for the U.S. Air Force Continuous Process Improvement Program, created in Adobe Illustrator.

A redesigned logo for the U.S. Air Force Continuous Process Improvement Program, created in Adobe Illustrator.

MOUNTAIN HOME AIR FORCE BASE, Idaho --

The Air Force is founded on encouraging Airmen to be innovators, problem solvers and critical thinkers. This is where Continuous Process Improvement (CPI) comes into the picture. CPI is all about becoming more effective, efficient and empowering Airmen to solve any problem.

CPI was previously known as Air Force Smart Operations for the 21st Century. It was introduced as an initiative in response to the Air Forces’ need to modernize and increase the productivity of its most valuable asset; Airmen.

Currently CPI not only saves the Air Force money to be used in other areas but allows Airmen to apply their skills to improve processes.

“CPI is important because the Air Force is constrained by a fiscal budget,” said Melvin Fouke II, 366th Fighter Wing continuous process improvement process manager. “Every year, we have a certain amount of resources at our disposal, the mission doesn’t change what we need to do but sometimes those resources do.”

Today CPI provides many avenues for individual improvement, including programs such as the Green and Black Belt courses. These programs are available to military members and civilians to teach you the methods to improve daily processes.

Individuals who pursue the Green or Black Belt certification learn to facilitate teams to solve complex problems through a data-driven approach. They will utilize practical problem solving methods along with the techniques learned to approach tasks more efficiently, such as improving productivity while lowering operating costs.

The practical problem solving method is a skill set developed over time used to achieve goals and solve immediate problems.

“Every Airman is a problem solver,” said Nicole Johnson, 366th Medical Treatment Facility director of clinical quality and risk management. “These classes will teach them how to do this effectively and efficiently. They will learn to determine and correct the root cause of the problem by implementing innovative solutions that may even be identified as a best practice across the Air Force.”

The 366th MTF incorporates CPI in their daily work life. Each flight in the MTF has a CPI Board on their wall tracked monthly by leadership to maintain progression.

“When people lose sight of tasks at hand, they lose movement. This CPI board helps keep track of current tasks and processes in need of improvement to hold us accountable,” Nicole said.

Implementing CPI into the workplace can help to reduce and eliminate errors in a process while also minimizing the steps within a specific process you may have to complete.

“The beauty of CPI is that it’s a methodology that shows you how to use the resources you already have in a more effective way,” said Fouke II.

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