From Chaos to Order Then Performance Excellence – Improving USPS Operating Performance

Bradley L. Golish, PhD., LSSMBB, United States Postal Service, Pittsburgh, PA, USA

Co-Speaker: Dennis J. Chakey, MBA, LSSMBB, Accenture Federal Systems Consultant,  Arlington, VA, USA

Keywords: LSS Organizational Design and Strategy, LSS Program Management, LSS Deployment Guidelines

Industry: Government

Level: Intermediate


The Evolution of the USPS Eastern Area’s Approach to Improving Operating Performance Using a Lean Six Sigma Methodology is presented as a reflection on how the organization has empowered the workforce and elevated the operating performance across the enterprise. Starting with the historical perspective and introduction of Lean Six Sigma to the USPS

Organization, the spokesperson presents an in-depth view of how the Lean Six Sigma deployment evolved over time to transition, stabilize, and greatly improve operating performance.

The initial organizational design and improvement strategy is discussed to offer insight into how the USPS LSS program office was structured at its beginning and how it evolved over time to effectively engage all members of the organization in identifying improvement opportunities, collaborate to determine the root causes, deploy the appropriate countermeasures, and sustain the improvements over time. The composition of the LSS program is discussed as well from a leadership and employee perspective to identify the key roles and responsibilities proven necessary to successfully drive improvement initiatives. These roles serve as the backbone for strategic project identification and selection, Belt Candidate selection and training, and the supporting framework to mentor, coach, and assist the candidate’s efforts during the improvement journey.

Enterprise-wide key performance indicators are introduced to illuminate the project management tracking and monitoring capabilities designed to ensure timely project completion and perpetuate organizational learning through the dissemination of proven best practices. A Balance Scorecard approach is at the heart of the strategic planning efforts to align the organization’s focus on the vital few areas in need of critical repair. Biweekly performance reviews conducted by the COO in conjunction with the Area Vice Presidents and Area Master Black Belts ensures that affected areas of repair get the required attention and are completed as expected.

The USPS Structured DMAIC Roadmap is explored by identifying the range of project categories employed, and how Kaizen Events are orchestrated in accelerating the DMAIC model along with the A3 project summary, 6S which includes a strong attention to safety, and Kamishibai Board techniques to improve visual management and help mistake-proof critical processes. The underlying Plan, Do, Check, Act lifecycle is at the core of the A3 DNA and once the candidates become acquainted with the ease of effort required to build the visual storyboard, future project initiatives become a great deal less taxing on the employee since the certification requirements and related overhead are no longer necessary to document the follow-on improvement initiatives. This helps to counteract the likelihood of a “One and Done” mentality regarding improvement engagements post certification.

The inclusion of the collective bargaining employee is also a keynote with respect to the introduction of LSS methods and tools to the workforce. This occurs through Yellow Belt Training classes and invitations to team-up with fellow employees on improvement initiatives that relate to their specific roles and responsibilities as subject matter experts. The craft employee’s reaction to the lean six sigma program is a mixed bag of curiosity, lukewarm interest, receptive engagement, and tempered aversion when improvements lean in the direction of labor hour or overtime reductions. In spite of the mixed reactions, the Yellow Belt classes are having a positive impact on employee awareness especially when the craft employee realizes that many of the improvement methods covered in the classes have a direct applicability in relieving the overburden from the work related activities they perform every day both on and off the job.

In closing, the speaker reflects on the LSS Program achievements and successes to date and provides a vision of the future and the fiscal 2017 plan objectives.