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CPI – solving problems that hinder the mission

VANCE AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. – An Air Force aircraft takes off every 2.8 minutes somewhere around the globe. A mission tempo of this magnitude is bound to hit a speed bump every once in a while, and Airmen must be prepared to quickly and efficiently solve problems that arise. 

To this end, Team Vance, like many bases, is equipped with a Continuous Process Improvement program, designed to efficiently solve the problems that hinder the mission.

CPI works by applying an eight-step problem-solving method to find the source of a problem, said Rachel Overman, the 71st Flying Training Wing CPI process manager. This eight-step method aids Vance in finding solutions to its problems.

The CPI program is beneficial to the mission at Vance because it improves the processes used on a daily basis, said Staff Sgt. Matthew Buhrke, the 71st Flying Training Wing command chief master sergeant executive. Buhrke is currently completing certification training to be a CPI green-belt.

The goal is to streamline processes and standardize work to improve unit efficiency and give more time back to the Airmen, said Overman.

“We need CPI everywhere,” said Buhrke. “It can be used in any shop on the base and across the Air Force.”

While this program is beneficial to the Air Force, that’s not the only place it is used.

“This is an industry-wide program” said Buhrke. “It’s not just a military thing. You see this in everything from car manufacturing to electronics companies.”

Top leaders in the Air Force are pushing the program because they want Airmen to be more innovative and drive the processes that make the Air Force more efficient, he said.

“You can walk into any shop on base and ask them ‘What can be done more efficiently here?’ and I guarantee every single person can find at least one thing,” said Buhrke.

To help improve efficiency at Vance, the base offers a quarterly green-belt facilitator course for those who want to help with the program, said Overman.

The initial course is a weeklong class that gives a background on what CPI is and teaches Airmen how to facilitate an event, said Buhrke. After the classroom portion of the training, Airmen must facilitate events to obtain a certification.

“Right now, in the Air Force, you can walk across any base and they’re going to tell you they are undermanned,” Buhrke said. “As a whole, we are being asked to do more with less, and any process that we can make more efficient and easier for our people, we should do. That’s where CPI comes in and why it’s important here at Vance.”