All organizations contain the capacity to innovate and improve upon the attainment of business success.  Often capacity goes unused because managers are focused solely on the supervision of personnel, materiel, and activities.  This occurs because the implementation of policies, plans, and procedures are typically not designed or resourced to enable operational flexibility in the achievement of objectives.  Operations managers are given the right resources, the right method, and the right amount of time to complete the right task.  As long as this right way is the best way, organizations will be successful. 

When the right way is not the best way, organizations fail to free up resources and time that can be used to accomplish other objectives. The opportunity cost of failing to take advantage of better ways of doing your business limits the potential of your organization. In some cases, rigorously adhering to the right way of your organization, when confronted with a better way, can lead to a decrease in competitiveness, obsolescence, and dissolution. 

When innovation and improvements manifest, they often occur as a result of actions taken outside of the ordered execution of the right way.  This means that an organization will generally not spontaneously innovate or improve. Action must be taken by someone within the organization. They must imagine and then try a new way. Leaders and managers can choose to discourage, ignore, or encourage the transformative vitality in their organization, but each decision, or lack of a decision, is consequential.
Of course, understanding the difference between the right way, a new way, and the best way can never be known with certainty.  Lucky for you, many before you have pondered, developed, and experimented on different approaches that can aid you through your pursuit of a better or best way. This business tool kit highlights many of the common and widely known business process improvement tools and methodologies used in the Army.   

What is the Capacity for Innovation and Improvement in Your Organization?


Level 1: No formal policy, plans, procedures, and resources are in place to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of achieving business goals, objectives and strategies.  Process improvements and innovations are isolated to individual initiatives and are localized.


Level 2: Formal policy, plans, procedures, and minor resources are in place to develop process improvements and innovations that can increase the efficiency and effectiveness of achieving business goals, objectives, and strategies.  


Level 3: Resources are dedicated to the development and adoption of process improvements and innovations that can increase the efficiency and effectiveness of achieving business goals, objectives, and strategies.


Level 4: An organization is designed and resourced to develop and adopt process improvements and innovations that continuously increase the efficiency and effectiveness of achieving business goals, objectives, and strategies.


Level 5: The culture of an organization is routinely transformed to best enable the development and adoption of process improvements and innovations that continuously increase the efficiency and effectiveness of achieving business goals, objectives, and strategies.

What Challenges Impact the Short-term and Long-term Achievement of your Mission Objectives?


Simple challenges occur when there is one well-defined problem, which is measurable and can generally addressed by a single course of action.  Characteristics of a simple challenge include:
a. Repeating patterns and consistent events
b. Clear cause-and-effect relationships
c. Solution exists
d. No unknown information
e. Requires fact-based management to address challenge


Complicated challenges occur when there is one well-defined and measurable problem, but addressing the problem requires an understanding of the inter-relationship and challenges impacting other business operations.  Characteristics of a Complicated challenge include:
a. Awareness of unknown information and how to make information known
b. Cause-and-effect relationships are discoverable but not immediately apparent
c. More than one solution exists
d. Expert diagnosis required
e. Requires fact-based management to address

Complex and Adaptive

Complex and Adaptive challenges occur when there are multiple problems that interact to create a “problematic situation,” rather than a singular problem.  The problematic situation tends to be ill-defined or illusive because some of the elements of the problematic situation cannot be fully articulated.  Characteristics of a Complex and Adaptive challenge include:  
a. Some of the problems impacting the challenge are unknown
b. No right answer: emergent instructive patterns
c. Flux and a lack of predictability
d. Competing ideas
e. Expert diagnosis required
f. Requires pattern-based management and creative and innovative approaches


These challenges occur when changes in personnel, material, activity, and task inputs are not directly proportional to the results, or output, they provide. These challenges are the most common, and result in minor changes causing disproportionate consequences.  Characteristics of a nonlinear challenge include:
a. Output is not proportional to input
b. Some cause-and-effect relationships are unknown
c. A single course of action may not address the key issue
d. Expert diagnosis required
e. Requires both fact and pattern based management to address challenge


These challenges occur when multiple unknown factors and inter-relationships negatively impact the management of business operations.  These unknown factors are initially thought to be uncontrollable, but effort should be expended to gain an understanding of these factors and transition the challenge from a Chaotic to Complex.  Characteristics of a Chaotic challenge include:

a. No clear cause-and effect relationships discernable – creates apathy and a lack of desire to look for solutions
b. Some information required to make effective decisions is considered unknowable
c. Business operations managers have too many decisions to make and no time to think about them
d. Business operations managers experience a high level of turbulence and tension
e. Expert diagnosis required
f. Requires pattern- based management

Eight Innovation and Improvement Methodologies

The Army recognizes eight core process improvement and innovation methodologies that address the complexities that impact the management of business operations.  The following table highlights the challenges each methodology is most suited to address and the impact that operations managers and process managers should expect when they are employed.

Ad Hoc
Addresses ad hoc challenges involving clear problems with one solution that do not need the application of sophisticated algorithms to solve. Typically, operations managers will engage subject matter experts to understand existing challenges, identify resolution opportunities, and develop courses of action for implementation. 
General Tenants:
a. More localized impact as a result of being focused on single goal and/or specific group of stakeholders
b. Reduction in bureaucracy resulting from limited scope, time frame, and process stakeholders
c. Typically requires fewer resources to address, relies more on specialized subject matter experts
Procedural Steps:
a. Define the problem
b. Generate alternative solutions
c.  Evaluate and select alternative
d. Implement and follow up on the solution

Systems Thinking (ST)
Systems thinking is a set of synergistic analytic skills used to improve the capability of identifying and understanding systems, predicting their behaviors, and devising modifications to them in order to produce desired effects.

General Tenets:
a. Requires a shift from a linear mindset, to a circular mindset.  Forces organizations to realize that all elements are interconnected
b. Goal is synthesis, as opposed to analysis, which is the segmentation of organizational complexity into manageable components
c. Continuously observe, understand, and intervene in feedback loops when properly categorized and segmented
d. Focus on decoding the way elements influence each other within a system
e. Enables ability to leverage mapping diagrams to identify unique insights and discoveries that can be leveraged to develop interventions, demand shifts, or policy decisions
Procedural Steps:
a. Tell the story
b. Draw behavior over time (BOT) Graphs
c. Create a focusing statement
d. Identify the structure
e. Deep dive into the issues
f. Plan an intervention

Operations Research/Systems Analysis (ORSA)

Involves the application of scientific methods, techniques, and tools to address a business operations challenge.  ORSA tools and techniques present business operations managers with a quantitative analysis of short-term and long-term challenges.
General Tenets:
a. Produces analysis and logical reasoning required to assist decision makers in solving problems
b. Introduces qualitative and quantitative analysis by developing and applying probability models, statistical inference, simulations, optimization and economic models
c. Helps to identify trends in data for theater commanders
Procedural Steps:
a. Problem definition
b. Value system design
c. Synthesis of alternatives
d. Systems modeling and analysis
e. Decision making
f. Planning for action

Theory of Constraints (TOC)

Identifies the most important limiting factor (e.g. constraint) that prevents a commander from achieving a desired mission or goal.  Operations managers will focus on addressing the constraint until it is no longer a limiting factor impacting a business operation.  This involves assessing the Army enterprise, not just one aspect, and if successfully addressed, may result in limiting the impact of the constraint for other business operations and the Army as a whole. 
General Tenets:
a. Assists Army leaders in defining waste as a constraint on the enterprise's throughput capability
b. Enables the development of practical mechanisms to alert resources when not to produce
Procedural Steps:
a. Identify constraint
b. Optimize constraint
c. Subordinate the constraint
d. Elevate the constraint
e. Identify the next largest constraint and repeat process

Design for Lean Six Sigma (DFLSS)

Used to address quality challenges impacting a business operation.  Business operations managers leverage DFLSS when their goal is to optimize activity and task designs to meet specific requirements, or to provide a high level of effectiveness and performance when initially addressing a mission related objective.  DFLSS assists business operations managers in software development, infrastructure development, and process designs.
General Tenets:
a. Resulting flow, processes and technology are designed with optimal quality in mind
b. Disciplined approach to the customer's procedural critical to quality elements
c. Controlled designed parameters to mitigate scope creep and adding functionality that is not required
d. Promotes the modeling and simulation as a means to measure innovative ideas and emerging technologies
e. Designed to ensure fully integrated future state flows, processes and technology
Procedural Steps:
a. Define the problem
b. Measure the factors that are critical to success
c. Analyze design alternatives, optimal requirement combinations, conceptual designs, components, and selecting best design
d. Design detailed and high level design for alternatives
e. Verify the design is acceptable to all stakeholders

Value Engineering (VE)
A systematic and organized approach that enables business operations managers to address challenges by identifying minimum cost and maximum benefit solutions.  VE is used to increase project value by searching for and resolving challenges through workshops that identify required function(s), amenities, and the highest quality project(s) at the lowest life cycle costs. 

General Tenets:

a. Creates opportunities of the Army to achieve long-term benefits in cost reduction, efficiency, reliability, producibility, readiness, warfighting capability, and cycle time
b. Increases ability to secure price advantages
c. Fosters creative thinking to explore alternate ways of performing Army functions at a lower cost to improve a project, product or process

Procedural Steps:

a. Information phase
b. Speculation phase
c. Evaluation (Analysis) phase
d. Development phase
e. Presentation phase

Lean Six Sigma (LSS)
Designed to help operations managers measure business process performance and identify courses of action that improve the effectiveness and performance of military activities and tasks that enable the achievement of mission objectives.  Address the elimination of problems through the removal of waste, increase in efficiency, and the overall improvement of working conditions. 

General Tenets:

a. Lean Six Sigma is a team-focused managerial approach that seeks to improve performance by eliminating waste and defects
b. Encourages Army leaders to understand their organizations value stream to drive improvement
c. Streamlines process flow by the removal of non-value added steps and waste
d. Combines Six Sigma methods and tools and the lean manufacturing/lean enterprise philosophy, striving to eliminate waste of physical resources, time, effort and talent while assuring quality in production and organizational processes.
e. Outcome focused
f. Improvements enable technological solutions required by an organization

Procedural Steps:

a. Define the project goals and customer deliverables
b. Measure the process to determine current performance and quantify the problem
c. Analyze and determine the root cause(s) of the defects
d. Improve the process by eliminating defects
e. Control future process performance, sustainability

Business Process Reengineering (BPR)
BPR is the fundamental rethinking of business processes, focused on achieving radical change, enabling new process outcomes, and targeting end-to-end business processes rather than functional silos, resulting in dramatic improvements in critical aspects to include cost, quality, service, and speed. BPR efforts take a holistic view of the current and future states and considers the people, process, policy, information, and technology impacts to close capability gaps, achieve mission goals, and leverages commercial best practices whenever practical.  

General Tenets:

a. Radical redesign that acknowledges the current state, but is not beholden to existing process activities, organizational structures, enabling technologies, or cultural norms
b. The use of innovation to re-think traditional Army approaches to process execution
c. Establishes completely new ways of accomplishing work
d. Organized around outcomes, not tasks
e. Focused on the Army enterprise within the end-to-end business process framework
f. Recognizes technology as simply an enabler of the process and one of the many lenses from which to drive reengineering
g. Army Requirements to Use BPR – A BPR project is a required element of business system acquisition (DoDI 5000.75 and 10 U.S. Code § 2222)  
h. Resources Required – The human resources and other costs required to execute a BPR project may be minimal or very large, depending on the scope of the effort being addressed.  A BPR project can be applied to both large and small problems, though typically the most value to the Army is garnered from E2E process changes.

Procedural Steps:

a. Launch
b. Plan
c. Discover & Analyze As-Is
d. Design To-Be
e. Close