LSS MBB - Program Analysis, U.S. Government Accountability Office, Virginia Beach, VA, USA
Johnny Johnson, Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt, Government Accountability Office, Continuous Process Improvement Office Center of Excellence, Washington, D.C., In 2022, Johnny left the Department of Defense to join the Government Accountability Office (GAO) Continuous Process Improvement (CPI) Center of Excellence to apply his decades of executive leadership and program experience as a Certified Master Black Belt in the Lean Six Sigma (LSS) method of Continuous Process Improvement (CPI).Johnny had joined the DOD in 2006 following a distinguished career as a Fortune 200 executive in civilian industry where he developed award winning programs based on the highly successful LSS management method. At the DOD he was part of the leadership team that developed the program planning, guidance, and supporting material to integrate the LSS method of CPI into DOD business process management. In his extensive career, Johnny has led many award winning teams in industry and government that applied the methods of LSS/CPI to develop sustainable process improvements across a wide spectrum of functional areas that include everything from manufacturing, logistics, strategic planning, and industrial safety to energy management, finance, and health care. Awards won by these teams include the CEO’s Award of Excellence, the CEO’s Dream Team Award, the National Green Cross Industrial Safety Award twice, the Senate Productivity Award, the Department of Navy (DON) LSS Project Competition twice, and the Defense Health Agency High Reliability in Health Care Award eight times. In 2021, Johnny was presented with the Civilian Meritorious Service Award for methods he developed to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of the LSS/CPI Program. These methods were integrated into the Navy Professional Development Program and broadcast in Webinars to the DOD. Johnny is a combat decorated USMC Wounded Warrior, a published author, a patented inventor, has completed the requirements for professional certifications in several fields, and earned a B.S. and M.B.A Degree from Old Dominion University (ODU) in Norfolk, VA, where he also served as an Adjunct Professor of Business. Johnny’s dedicated service to help other veterans resulted in a gubernatorial appointment to the Virginia Board of Veterans Services’ to develop statewide veteran assistance programs. In recognition of his lifetime of support for veterans’ issues, he was selected by the Hampton Roads Council of Veterans Organizations as the 2016 Grand Marshall of the Veterans Day Parade. Johnny and his wife Diane live in their hometown of Virginia Beach and enjoy time with their family that now includes grandchildren and their two dogs, Jazzy and Rocky.
Lessons Learned & Best Practices From a CPI Career
Following combat service as a U.S. Marine, I used my G.I. benefits to attend night school where I earned a B.S. Degree while working long days in a small family owned business that was struggling to survive. That was the beginning of a very rewarding and exciting career in CPI that led to executive level positions in a Fortune 200 Company followed by almost twenty years as a government employee leading up to my current position as the Master Black Belt for the Government Accountability Office. On the sudden death of my father in my senior year at ODU, I got my first look at the business debt that revealed an insolvent organization that had been unprofitable for years and sustained with my mother’s retirement savings as collateral for that debt. According to the legal and financial advisors, this situation left only two options: 1) file for bankruptcy liquidation which would forfeit my mother’s life savings, or 2) identify a new source of profitable revenue that would generate enough cash flow to satisfy the creditors. The experts advised me to take option one; I chose option two. Since I made that decision almost fifty years ago, I have had the honor of leading many award winning teams in industry and government across a wide spectrum of functional areas including manufacturing, logistics, and strategic planning in civilian industry to financial management, energy conservation, and health care in the Federal Government. While I have led teams that won awards with the RIE, DMAIC, and DMADV model, I have had the greatest success with the Practical Problem Solving 8-Step model. This was used in blind competition by teams of Federal employees to win eight National Continuous Process Improvement Annual Project Awards. There are two points to be made here! First - the Lean Six Sigma tools and methods of continuous process improvement can be followed to facilitate improvements by any team in any process in any industry or government organization. Second - my experience in the Federal Government is that the Practical Problem Solving 8-Step model presented in the A3 format has been more successful that other approaches. In 2021, I was presented with the Civilian Meritorious Service Award for best practices to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the LSS Program. Lessons learned that led to this award were first documented in a study by one Federal Agency that identified that 98% of “top-down” process improvement initiatives that were not successful, had a technical solution but did not address the issues and concerns of the frontline staff. This had a negative impact on the CPI culture and resulted in a reduction of leadership support for the LSS/CPI Program. I will add to that my own experience that “bottom up” process improvement initiatives that were not successful, did not demonstrate their alignment with the strategic goals of the organization that leadership was accountable for. This had a negative impact on the CPI culture and resulted in a reduction of leadership support for the LSS/CPI Program. That leads to a very simple conclusion! If we want to improve leadership support for development of the CPI culture of a learning organization, then we need successful projects that are aligned with the strategic goals of the organization, address the issues and concerns of frontline staff, and standardize the process with roles, responsibility, and accountability defined to sustain the benefits gained and support the communications feedback loop necessary for management oversight and control. This is the foundation necessary for process improvement to truly be continuous. Before I proceed, let me tell you what happened to the family business? After the death of my father I tried many things that were not successful before I met a local manufacturer who had significant non-value added cost and delays getting their product to market. We developed an innovative solution that provided better service at lower cost to the manufacturer and higher profits, but no capital to expand. I received an offer to buy our business and pay off all debt which we accepted. Later, this resulted in a job offer from California Billionaire John Rosekrans. He owned a conglomerate of manufacturing businesses that included a division that had adopted my new logistics model. He wanted me to apply the new model to his national conglomerate. I accepted....! Mr. Rosekrans later endorsed the methods of Dr. Deming and hired one of his protégés, Dr. Jack Newcome from MIT as the corporate quality consultant. I had the great honor and opportunity to work with and learn from Jack for several years while we applied Dr. Deming's methods to improve quality and reduce costs for manufactured products. These methods formed the foundation of the Lean Six Sigma model and put me on the path to speak here today to share with you lessons learned and best practices I have observed from decades of leading award winning teams.