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  2. Continuous Process Improvement (CPI) and Lean/Six Sigma (LSS)

Continuous Process Improvement (CPI) and Lean/Six Sigma (LSS)

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Alternate Definition
  1. CPI is an integrated system of improvement that focuses on doing the right things right. It is also an enterprise-wide "way of thinking" for achieving lower cost, shorter lead times, and higher quality. As a way of thinking, CPI is relevant to any process, regardless of complexity or relative importance. CPI provides an ongoing focus on enhancing the satisfaction of the Warfighter's needs. CPI can seek "incremental" improvement over time or "breakthrough" improvement all at once. Delivery (customer valued) processes are constantly evaluated and improved in the light of their efficiency, effectiveness and flexibility.
  2. CPI concepts and tools include both Lean and Six Sigma. These are often referred to, and performed in combination, as LSS. Definitions for these concepts  are as follows:
    • Lean, a methodology for continuous process improvement which focuses on work flow, customer value, and eliminating process waste; unique from traditional process improvement strategies in that its primary focus in on eliminating non-value added activities.
    • Six Sigma, a disciplined data-driven methodology for process improvement which focuses on satisfying customer requirements while minimizing waste by reducing and controlling variation.
Alternate Definition Source
  1. DAU CLE 015Continuous Process Improvement Familiarization, Lesson 1.
  2. DoD Instruction (DoDI) 5010.43, Implementation and Management of the DoD-Wide CPI/Lean Six Sigma (CPI/LSS) Program
General Information

Primary Concept:  Variation is the Enemy

The cornerstone of the CPI/LSS approach is captured in this figure below: 

CPI and LSS Image 1

DoD Policy

CPI/LSS is a disciplined improvement methodology that has been endorsed by DoD leadership in DoDI 5010.43. CPI/LSS is a primary means by which the DoD is becoming more efficient in its operations and more effective in its support to the Warfighter. 

Who Benefits?

CPI/LSS concepts and tools should be applied to benefit the full range of DoD organizations. These include combat, industrial, service, and office environments of headquarters, field, and operational organizations. Each DoD Component should use CPI/LSS concepts and tools to improve the processes and activities that comprise their operations, including decision-making processes and appropriate engagement with industrial base suppliers.

Currently under the Director of Administration & Management, DoD seeks to align and integrate improvements across all business operations mission areas by utilizing CPI and Business Process Reengineering (BPR) methodologies and exploiting emerging technology. Optimizing the department’s business processes requires identification and prioritization of improvement projects and application of process improvement tools to reduce waste and improve operational performance and affordability.

More on BPR...

BPR, as defined by the Government Accountability Office (GAO), is a systematic, disciplined improvement approach that critically examines, rethinks, and redesigns mission-delivery processes in order to achieve dramatic improvements in performance in areas important to customers and stakeholders. BPR employs a logical methodology for assessing process weaknesses, identifying gaps, and implementing opportunities to streamline and improve the processes in business operations. The Department’s approach to BPR is an iterative process which begins with a focus on the business activities / work and the information used. Processes are then further refined and adapted as the Information Technology requirements are modeled. This approach aligns with the principles of Doctrine, Organization, Training, Materiel, Leadership and Education, Personnel, Facilities, and Policy (DOTMLPF-P) analysis.

In the 2010-2017 timeframe, the DoD had multiple initiaves focused on how the Department buys and sustains weapons systems and to make them more capable and affordable. Many of these involved the application of CPI/LSS concepts and tools. For example, the initiative “Eliminate Unproductive Processes and Bureaucracy” includes four sub-categories, shown below, related to continuous process improvement and lean/six sigma.  We continue to see the application of continuous process improvement in our efforts to comply with the requirement for should cost management and the implementation of Agile acquisition practices.

  • Emphasize acquisition chain of command responsibility, authority and accountability
  • Reduce cycle times while ensuring sound investments
  • Streamline documentation requirements and staff reviews
  • Remove unproductive requirements imposed on industry

Performance Based Logistics (PBL)

PBL, another DoD product and process improvement initiative, is a life cycle product support strategy which employs the use of long-term product support arrangements (PSA), metrics and incentives which drive desired product support outcomes, and often leveraging structured public-private partnerships (PPP) to improve weapon systems performance (e.g., reliability, availability and maintainability (RAM)) and reduce operating and support (O&S) costs. PBL links performance and cost outcomes to meeting the Warfighter’s requirements through product support arrangements with incentives and metrics to measure performance improvement in meeting requirements. PBL is an example of a product support strategy (PSS) related to CPI/LSS.

CPI “Musts”

Experience in both the public and private sectors indicates that the following conditions are required to ensure effective CPI implementation:

  1. An established infrastructure to support CPI implementation—In the DoD, the CPI infrastructure for each organization should consist of a champion, steering committee, support team, and work groups, as appropriate. Peer groups should also be used to strengthen performance across the DoD functional areas.
  2. Strategically aligned outcome-focused goals based upon the voice of the customer are identified to drive real customer value through the operations of the organization.
  3. A thorough problem-solving structure—for example, Definition, Measurement, Analysis, Improvement, and Control (DMAIC)—within a logical, methodical CPI plan of action exists for all projects and other initiatives that are related to organizational objectives and priorities.
  4. Strong and continuously visible leadership commitment and involvement from the very top of the organization stresses and supports a CPI culture of innovation and teamwork.


DMAIC is an ordered problem-solving methodology applied widely in private- and public-sector organizations. The letters are an abbreviation for the five phases of Six Sigma improvement. These phases direct a process improvement team logically from problem definition to implementing solutions that are linked to root causes.

  1. Define: The first phase in the DMAIC process is to define the project, develop an improvement project plan, define the process, and evaluate progress.
  2. Measure: In the measure phase, existing process data is collected, measurement systems are evaluated, and the process capability requirements are identified.
  3. Analyze: In this phase the process is evaluated to determine its capability.
  4. Improve: In the improve phase, the improvement plan developed in the analyze phase is implemented.
  5. Control: In the control phase, the improvements become institutionalized and control plans are developed to ensure that the process continues to be measured and evaluated.

CPI/LSS continuously improve processes by improving outcomes, eliminating defects, reducing the cost of poor quality and by reducing cycle time.

The video Lean Six Sigma for Manufacturing 08.22.18 describes how many of the CPI tools can be used in the DoD environment.