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Continuous Process Improvement: chats, programs provide accelerated readiness

  • Published
  • By Kayla Prather
  • Air Force Materiel Command

Air Force Materiel Command Airmen seeking new ways to innovate and accelerate change have multiple resources to support their efforts, thanks to programs led by the Commander’s Accelerated Initiatives team.

Among these resources are two programs that offer training and mentorship on the ‘how’ aspect of driving change; these are continuous process improvement chats, or CPI Chats, and Green Belt eLearning.

CPI chats are bite-sized training modules. The chats average 10 minutes in length and focus on a visual training concept, followed by 20 minutes of conversation and questions via Microsoft Teams. No registration is required, and they are designed for individuals to explore a concept that can help them drive change in the workplace.

“There is a different subject each week,” said Darla Kelly, a master process officer and program lead. “An example of one would be standard work, which is doing a process in a certain order to make it most efficient, and then writing that down, so that you could train the next person who does your job.”

The chats are held weekly and occur three times throughout day. This accommodates Airmen who may work in different time zones around the world such as Hawaii, Germany and Japan.

To date, nearly 1,500 Airmen and civilians have participated in the CPI chats

“I am a trainee and soon-to-be facilitator of these CPI chats because I value them so much,” said Denise Steele, an Air Force Research Laboratory participant. “These sessions have helped me focus on one concept or tool and see exactly how that fits in the Air Force Lean mindset for improvement and innovation and my work.”

According to Steele, individuals can benefit from the chats by learning CPI concepts, theory and tools in an easy to understand way that does not require a large time commitment. The wide-range of times chats are offered, as well as the ability to view them on video afterwards, makes it easy for a person to gain the knowledge they need on the schedule that best meets their needs.

If a chat member is looking to learn more, they can join the Green Belt eLearning course. It has 45 modules and is more advanced that the CPI chats.

“It is for people who want to facilitate teams, look at process steps, and streamline activities in the workplace,” said Kelly.

The course is self-paced and available 24 hours a day. According to Kelly, some people have completed it in 18 hours and others in 40; it is flexible.

At the end of each course month, members attend an “in-person” Adobe class where Kelly is an instructor. They discuss the content learned that month and are provided an opportunity to ask more specific, in-depth questions on the concepts. These are recorded for members to look back on.

At the end of the Green Belt eLearning course, there is an exam and a certificate of completion provided to each passing participant. Individuals receive Continuing Education Units that they can put in their training records as well.

Of the 8,993 total students in the Green Belt program this year, 1,460 are from AFMC.

“As a fairly new mentor of Green Belt candidates, the courses help me refresh the fundamental skills,” said Brian Flores, an Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center program participant. “Oftentimes a candidate will question, ‘Why do we do it that way?’ I’ll answer, and then reinforce with the recording of the applicable session.”

CPI chats and the Green Belt eLearning course are both free for CAC-enabled active duty, reserve, guard, and civilian employees.

“The CPI chats are open to anyone; they’re optional, and there is no obligation to attend any of them. Individuals can also watch a recorded chat at a more convenient time,” said Kelly. “The Green Belt course itself is open enrollment, but it is a more rigorous program because the whole 40 hour program needs to be completed to earn a certificate. It is a higher level requirement.”

Both of these programs help to promote the AFMC We Need every day.

“These programs are helping our Airmen to take a good look at their work and processes to see how they can find more efficient and productive ways to do things,” said Kelly. “They are helping in our continuous effort to become the AFMC We Need.”

To access CPI chats via Microsoft Teams, visit:

The Green Belt access site will be available the end of October. Program information will be announced via Microsoft Teams.