Kelley green belts save local companies millions in time and money

Whether you know it or not, you complete hundreds of processes a day. From doing the dishes, to parking the car or getting ready for work, processes are how we get things done.

“Everything has some sort of process. And every process has a data aspect to it. You can run any type of data through the software we have and come up with solutions to inefficiencies. You can quantify it to save time,” explained Brian Whitted, BS’17. Whitted is majoring in supply chain management and finance.

“For one of our projects in class, we had to pick a process in our lives -- a simple thing we do on a daily basis. I chose getting my kids ready for school in the morning – how do you streamline that process?” explained Whitted. “You can use this in anything you do.”

Whitted received a Lean Six Sigma Green Belt certification this semester through a course taught by Associate Professor of Operations Management Mark Frohlich.

The certificates are awarded to Kelley School of Business students who successfully complete process improvement projects involving local businesses.

Through nearly 600 Green Belt projects, Frohlich estimates that his students’ process improvement projects have saved companies millions of dollars over a decade of consultations at hospitals, restaurants, chain retail stores and other companies big and small.

“This course taught us how to take a process that’s inefficient, look at where inefficiencies came from and turn it into a more efficient project. We were able to pinpoint the problems in the process,” said Nic Jones, BS'17.

This semester, students chose multiple companies, and they looked at everything from lowering liquor costs, to improving the time customers wait for dessert at local restaurants, to improving downtime at a manufacturer. One group chose to take a look at university computers – analyzing how they could make them start up faster and how much they say time students waste while waiting for them to start. Who knew?!

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Students present on process improvement before receiving Lean Six Sigma Green Belt certification.
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Students present on process improvement before receiving Lean Six Sigma Green Belt certification.
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A slide shows some of the students' suggestions for process improvement at a company.
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Student project analyzes how a company could improve or reduce liquor costs.
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Students present on process improvement before receiving Lean Six Sigma Green Belt certification.
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Students present on process improvement for a local taxi company before receiving Lean Six Sigma Green Belt certification.
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Students present on process improvement before receiving Lean Six Sigma Green Belt certification.
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Students present on process improvement before receiving Lean Six Sigma Green Belt certification.
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Students present on process improvement before receiving Lean Six Sigma Green Belt certification.
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Students present on process improvement for a local cabinetry business before receiving Lean Six Sigma Green Belt certification.
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Students present on process improvement for a local cabinetry business before receiving Lean Six Sigma Green Belt certification.
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Students present on process improvement before receiving Lean Six Sigma Green Belt certification.
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Students present on process improvement before receiving Lean Six Sigma Green Belt certification.
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Students present on process improvement before receiving Lean Six Sigma Green Belt certification.
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Students present on process improvement before receiving Lean Six Sigma Green Belt certification.
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Mark Frohlich, associate professor of operations management, speaks with students before presentations in December, 2016.
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A student group presents on process improvement for university computers in the library.
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A student group presents on process improvement for university computers in the library.
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Students present before receiving Lean Six Sigma Green Belt certification.
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Student presents on process improvement.
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Students present before receiving Lean Six Sigma Green Belt certification.

“It’s hard to say what a Green Belt is worth,” said Frohlich. “But I would estimate that even for undergraduates, it could add another $3,000 to $5,000 to their salaries because companies recognize and understand a Green Belt’s value. 

A lot of companies now pursue employees with these certificates.

Mark Frohlich, associate professor of operations management

"If an accountant, for example, is a Green Belt, she may be part of an audit with manufacturing or supply chain folks who also hold Green or Black belts, and together, they can do much more for the client.”

“The dream as an instructor is to give your students a skillset so they can go do something with that knowledge,” Frohlich added. “Honestly, I can’t say that happens for every class. But with this one, it truly does.”

“Many times when you teach a class, there are exams, projects, an end-of-the-semester course evaluations, and then, it’s over. But every time I teach this class, I have students come back and say, ‘You won’t believe this. I did another project over winter break for my parents.’ Or they say, ‘I couldn’t stand the way things were with inefficiencies, so I fixed them,’” explained Frohlich.

“When you think about inspiring students, instilling lifelong learning and encouraging them to apply what they’ve learned, this is what you think about.”