Open Letter to a Military Base Commander

Open Letter to the Military Base Commander

Dear Base Commander:

Firstly, let me paint a picture of your future Military System after implementing the expertise of the Toyota Production System. The advantages of a maniacal  focus on processes:

  • Certainly, everyone in the Military System is directed toward success,
  • Subsequently, the System focuses on the value produced,
  • Suppliers work to create a just-in-time system where they can decrease your costs,
  • Above all, it constantly requires suppliers to increase Sigma,
  • All smaller but often purchased items can be put into a double bin system to decrease inventory costs and increase availability,
  • Seek Perfection:
    1. Most importantly, at a rate of 11 ideas per warfighter per year,
    2. Management focuses ideas in a defined system benefiting direction,
    3. Toyota will not expand to a new plant unless they have a critical mass of employees that know this procedure,
    4. This is how come no competitor will ever catch Toyota, and
    5. Your culture changes to one of winning.

Military System Suppliers

  • Above all, organize your suppliers into at least 7 categories:
    1. Tier 1: Strategic and deliver Just-in-Time,
    2. Tier 2: Strategic and meeting Sigma Performance Requirements,
    3. Tier 3: Strategic and desired Just-in-Time deliveries,
    4. Tier 4: Strategic and not meeting Sigma Performance Requirements,
    5. Tier 5: Not Strategic and Just-in-Time,
    6. Tier 6: Not strategic and not meeting Sigma Requirements, and
    7. Tier 7: Not Strategic and meeting Sigma Requirements.

Constantly write Supplier contracts that require Sigma Improvement.

Lean Six Sigma

  • Implement Lean Six Sigma to:
    1. Above all, increase process velocity,
    2. Consequently, decrease process costs, and
    3. In addition, improve process quality.
  • Report success metrics to management, and
  • Subsequently, your Military System gets stronger and more powerful, year after year.

Finally, The Toyota Production System is a 6+ Sigma System and there’s no reason your Military System cannot strive for that level of performance. Think about making progress towards a Malcolm Baldrige Award (indicating the realization of Operational Excellence, a competitive advantage). The above list is but a short summary of how your future Military System will function.


Jim FitzGerald

Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt


Apply the Tools of The 6+ Sigma Toyota Production System to the Military System.