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Building a high performance workforce
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Groups from the private and public sector came together at SKC Inc. in Newton to learn an improvement methodology called Lean Six Sigma.

Lean Six Sigma helps provide a high performance workforce, one with solid skills in problem solving, analytical and critical thinking and decision making.

Friday’s event also made it clear just how closely linked everyone is in Newton County. The local school system and technical colleges generate a continuous pool of new talent. The business community drives employment, and the Economic Development Authority helps to attract new industry and provides workforce development through planning, infrastructure and training.

The Newton County Economic Development Authority helped facilitate such training at SKC, where, 40 participants became certified Lean Six Sigma Yellow Belts. Participants from the private sector included Black Box, Bostik, Cbeyond Communications, Kelly Services, Nyloboard, SPG International and SRG Global. Those from the public sector included Newton County’s Board of Commissioners, School System, Office of Economic Development Water & Sewer Authority as well as Georgia Piedmont Technical College and Oxford College.

The publicly-held Yellow Belt certification training was the kick-off event of a strategic training initiative sponsored by the Newton / Covington Economic Development Authority. Lean Six Sigma is a powerful process improvement methodology successfully adopted by many organizations — manufacturing, service, healthcare and government — to significantly improve their bottom line and customer experience. The Yellow Belt is the first step for those new to Lean Six Sigma.

“We are committed to developing our local workforce into a true engine that will drive our local industry growth. I am excited about the Lean Six Sigma training roadmap that Riverwood Associates is developing with us,” said David Bernd, Vice President of Economic Development.

Riverwood Associates is an Atlanta-based company that provides operational training and consulting to organizations that wish to improve performance levels.

“David understands the needs of industry having enjoyed a 35 year career with Kimberly Clark. The business community respects him because he’s been in the trenches,” said Scott Luton, a partner with Riverwood Associates. “He’s knows operations and is a certified Six Sigma Black Belt.”

SKC hosted the one day event at their headquarters in Covington. SKC is a leader in Lean Six Sigma and has been embracing it since 2005. According to Toni Ciccarello, Director of SKC’s Six Sigma and Supply Chain.

Kaizen is a Japanese management technique that refers to the practice of continuous improvement.

The training was facilitated by Peter J. Sherman, a Certified Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt with Riverwood Associates. Participants learned about different organizations successfully leveraging Lean Six Sigma. Examples included City of Fort Wayne, Indiana; Coca-Cola, General Electric, Starbucks; Toyota; and Virginia Mason Hospital. Topics included learning the principles of Lean Six Sigma, problem solving using the DMAIC (Define-Measure-Analyze-Improve-Control) framework, and a variety of proven tools. Participants completed several hands-on exercises including identifying examples of the 8 Wastes, defining the Voice of the Customer (VOC), mapping a current state process, and performing Root Cause Analysis.

“This [Lean Six Sigma] was a real eye opener for me personally,” said Jay Lanners, Vice President of Black Box, who attended the training. “We need a common approach and language to efficiently and effectively manage the growth. I can easily see our frontline teams embracing Lean Six Sigma”.

Other participants like Samantha Fuhrey, Superintendent of Newton County School System, were equally impressed. “I see many opportunities where we can leverage these principles and tools to streamline the school operations,” she said.