Army awards Harris with Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt

Photo By William Farrow | Dr. Charles Brandon, Director, Army Office of Business Transformation Process Improvement Program, awards Carolyn Harris, Huntsville Center's Program Improvement Manager, her Lean Six Sigma Master Black belt certificate in December. Harris is one of six MBBs in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
May 06, 2020

HUNTSVILLE, Alabama – Carolyn Harris, Huntsville Center Program Improvement Manager, is joining a small fraternity of Lean Six Sigma senior practitioners.

Harris is the 163rd member to be awarded Master Black Belt in the Army and currently one of six Corps of Engineers’ MBBs since the Army Lean Six Sigma deployment began in 2005.

Lean Six Sigma is process relying on a collaborative team efforts to improve performance by systematically removing waste and reducing variation. Lean Six Sigma provides various benefits for organizations by not only saving money, but also changing employees’ attitudes and organizational function.

In 2016, Col. Robert Ruch, Huntsville Center commander at that time, had nominated Harris for the distinction.

“When I heard her speaking on Lean Six Sigma I recognized her passion to improve Huntsville Center processes,” Ruch said. “The work she did as the Center’s process improvement manager and her willingness to put the time and effort into obtaining her Army black belt showed she certainly deserved the nomination for Master Black Belt.”

Harris’ MBB nomination package consisted of letters of recommendation and a resume showing her experiences in the field of process improvement. Harris also had to pass a 50- question screening test.

After the nomination package was reviewed by Headquarters U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, an interview was conducted and she was then accepted into MBB training program.

“I had to attend a three- week training course, and after receiving confirmation that I passed the course, I was considered a MBB candidate,” Harris said.

However, in order to become MBB certified, there were still a series of actions she had to complete.

Harris had to mentor two LSS black belts to completion and certification of their projects and successfully teach two four-week LSS training courses. She also had to conduct a project identification workshop and complete an additional LSS project.

Harris’ LSS certification project resulted in reducing the average hiring cycle time at Huntsville Center from an average of 172 days to 82 days and is expected to yield an estimated $22, 000 annually in financial cost avoidance.

After completion of the preliminary tasks, a request for award of LSS Master Black Belt Certification was submitted to the Army’s Office of Business Transformation where her credentials were further reviewed.

The AOBT determined Harris’ MBB certification package met the rigorous Army standards for certification and awarded her the MBB title Dec. 12, 2019.

“I want employees to know they have someone to come to and the tools available here in the Center to improve our programs and make our people and processes more efficient, which ultimately leads to greater customer satisfaction,” said Harris, Huntsville Center’s program improvement manager since June 2012.

“I don’t know what’s going on in every work area to know where people are experiencing problems,” Harris said, adding that anyone can identify a process for improvement.

As the Center’s lead process improvement facilitator, Harris is responsible for administering the Center’s Business Process Improvement Plan. Some of her duties consist of developing, implementing and monitoring improvement metrics as they relate to standardizing business processes, adhering to standard business processes and creating standard business processes by using a variety of tools to define, analyze, improve, and control business processes.

Harris also serves as the Center’s survey manager for the annual stakeholder’s survey. In that capacity, she is responsible for managing stakeholder engagement and customer service, identifying opportunities for improvement, and driving continuous performance improvement based on customer feedback and process analysis.

She said receiving her LSS/MBB will enhance her capability to promote process improvement and other methodologies to ensure Huntsville Center continues to strive be a world class organization.

“I am focused on enhancing and improving business processes by driving out waste and reducing variability through the application of process analysis tools and techniques such as root-cause analysis, value stream analysis, lean thinking and lean six-sigma tools,” she said.

“This helps the Center and the Corps of Engineers measure customer satisfaction, product quality, organizational performance, and process effectiveness.”