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Kansas Correctional Industries takes a new approach to improve performance

by KDOC News — last modified Mar 30, 2018 03:48 PM
Kansas Correctional Industries (KCI), a self-supporting state agency under the direction of the Kansas Department of Corrections, recently hosted a Lean Six Sigma Yellow Belt training as KCI looks to improve operational performance.
Kansas Correctional Industries takes a new approach to improve performance

Lean Sigma Six training at KCI

KCI, whose objective is to provide meaningful employment for inmates to develop work skills, held the training as part of its ongoing efforts to improve production, quality and customer service.

Combining instruction and hands-on lessons, 24 administrative, marketing and manufacturing employees from KCI attended the two-day training held in the Lansing Correctional Facility Training Center in March. Altex Solutions Group led and developed the training for KCI.

“This knowledge will be extremely useful moving forward,” said KCI Marketing Manager Beau Hendrix, who attended the training. “Both LEAN and Six Sigma contain tools and activities that are used to improve processes, not people. LEAN concentrates on improving speed by identifying and eliminating waste in a process. SIX SIGMA concentrates on reducing defects, and variation in specific processes, resulting in improved quality.”

Using Lean Six Sigma methodology to improve processes has a proven track record of saving millions of dollars in direct and indirect costs associated with many private, federal, state and local government organizations, said Altex Solutions Group Chief Operating Officer Bentley Stires.

“Realizing there is a need for improving an organization is the first step in considering an implementation of a continuous improvement program,” Stires said. “It has been my experience, with 30 years of operating in a correctional environment, more specifically correctional industries, that most operations tend to address problems in their processes on the “spur of the moment” without utilizing a more structured approach, resulting in the improvements less likely to be sustained.”

Many organizations have verified the benefits of implementing a continuous improvement program, not only in manufacturing processes; but in many different transactional, medical, research and other processes, he said.

“Let’s be honest, correctional operations need to operate more efficiently due to budget restraints, reduced customer orders and the need to complete tasks in a time and legally sensitive environment,” Stires said. “I have witnessed an investment of $10,000 in resources result in hundreds of thousands of dollars in additional revenue and cost reductions.”

Stires said one correctional organization he worked with was able to reduce the time to classify and announce critical positions for institutions, from several weeks to less than five days, by using the Lean Six Sigma methodology. Another institution was able to drastically reduce the amount of time, often as overtime, to prepare and transport inmates for medical services, resulting in substantial savings and increased security, he said.

KCI, like many organizations, needs to take that first step to identify potential team leaders, receive formal training and begin a continuous improvement program, Stires said.

“By making a comparably small investment up front, any organization can realize vast improvements and drastically reduced costs in most any of their processes,” he said.

Echoing Stires’ remarks, KCI Director Brad Jurgensen said Lean Six Sigma provides the strategy and tools needed to improve effectiveness and efficiency that can take KCI to the next level.

“These are sought-after certifications with real-world applications that will help KCI build a foundation that keeps the focus on customer service,” he said.

Jurgensen said KCI staff who have undergone the training have embraced the strategic business methodology and that KCI is already looking at holding additional training sessions in the future.

“Lean Six Sigma really asks that we work as a team,” he said. “The methodology necessitates that we work collaboratively to improve our performance.”

The KCI training attendees so far have earned a Six Sigma Yellow Belt certification which includes an introduction to process management including stakeholders’ roles and responsibilities. Comparable to how belts are awarded in martial arts training, Six Sigma belts include green and black belts to signify varying levels of certification and experience.


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