Building on momentum from attending last October’s Denver Peak Academy Black Belt Class, Chief Innovation Officer Nicole Pollock returned to Providence bursting with ideas to create meaningful impacts within its city departments. Immediately, she began scheduling and facilitating Black Belt sessions for interested employees, as well as implementing process mapping and improvement techniques within several specific departments.


With help from the growing Innovation Department, within 5 months Providence was able to deliver a complete Black Belt training session for 10 employees, trained 99 staff in Green Belt, held process mapping exercises with 50 employees, and assisted with three 6S sessions. As of January, 18 staff from the Women’s Development/Housing Opportunities Corporation have been trained at the Green Belt level, with continued interest from outside partners.

Nicole Pollock, Chief Innovation Officer, City of Providence Nicole

In this short amount of time, and through learned process improvement methods, trained staff completed innovation projects resulting in $36,975 in hard savings, $18,544 in soft savings, and a value to customers savings worth of $4,137, for a total of $59,656 overall. Most notably, the $36,975 reclaimed as hard savings was due to the disruption of mailing processes within the Department of Inspection and Standards (DIS). With support from the Innovation Department, an employee of DIS questioned the practice of sending notices to vacant and abandoned properties. It was discovered that thousands of notices were being mailed – to no receiver – via certified mail. Immediately realizing this ongoing waste, the employee developed a better process for identifying vacant properties. The Innovation Department currently has more A3s in progress and is assisting staff in other departments with the completion of their own projects.

Providence Team working on the Airplane Exercise RI

The Innovation Department has all of 2016 blocked out for four weeks of Black Belt training and 20 scheduled Green Belt sessions, with eager participation from city staff. They continue to gain outside attention and look forward to working closely with their coworkers and invested partners. As the Innovation Department has grown to four FTEs, two interns, and one fellow, Providence expects a full-deployment of process improvement efforts.

Written by Stephanie Caress 

Innovation Project Coordinator, City of Providence

Stephanie works at Providence City Hall as the Innovation Project Coordinator, helping to facilitate process improvement events and sharing her passion for reducing waste. For fun, she helps run a multitude of community events and speaker series that revolve around arts, culture, entrepreneurialism, and food. In 2014, she played a role in over 150 city, state, national, and global events. She lives on the edge of a crazy cat lady life, with two, furry freeloaders who unabashedly infringe on privacy.Stephanie Caress

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