There’s nothing like a good case study to get people’s imagination going, so the following may be of interest to anyone involved in Process Improvement. Have a read. What do you make of their achievements? How do they compare with others you have been involved in? What lessons are there to be learnt?
USAFE hosts AFSO 21 Process Council
by Tech Sgt Corey Clements – US Air Forces in Europe Public Affairs
12/13/2007 – RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany (AFPN) — The Air Force Smart Operations for the 21st Century Process Council was hosted by U.S. Air Forces in Europe officials Dec. 10 and 11 at Ramstein Air Base.
Secretary of the Air Force Michael W. Wynne and Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. T. Michael Moseley kicked off the council with a round-table discussion among commanders and general officers of each major command, Air Force smart operations experts and other Air Staff officials.
The process council’s goal is to integrate and guide the transformation of governing, core and enabling processes in order to improve combat capability. In addition, the council ensures the culture, organizational structures, investments, and other resources are aligned to institutionalize continuous process improvement as a way of life for all Airmen.
“Our next big move for AFSO 21 is to more quickly see and act upon improvement opportunities across the Air Force,” General Moseley said. “In many cases, we don’t know what we know regarding opportunities for improvement. There are hundreds of millions of dollars worth of savings we could capitalize on from ideas already identified.”
This is one important reason for the quarterly performance review meetings of the Air Force Process Council.
“One of AFSO 21’s great successes is the determined engagement of our most senior leaders, as exemplified in their regular discussions on progress through the process council to share results,” General Moseley said.
Other discussions included the progress of Air Force senior leaders’ training and infusing AFSO 21 problem-solving tools and methods into professional military education, and most importantly, integrating those successful results in like processes throughout the Air Force.
“2008 is the year of integration,” said Lt. Col. Brou Gautier, the Air Force Smart Operations Integration and Communications Division chief. “Integration is concerned with piecing together all the different AFSO 21 work across the Air Force. A great integration program allows Airmen, before they start a project, to look at our database of knowledge to determine if they have to start from scratch or see if someone has been down that path before and start at a 40 percent to 60 percent or better solution.”
The database can be found on the Air Force Portal AFSO 21 Community of Practice knowledge area.
Hosting the quarterly performance review at Ramstein afforded the Air Force’s most senior leaders the opportunity to “go and see” the progress USAFE leaders made and the challenges they have encountered so far along their continuous process improvement journey. Several USAFE wing commanders briefed their AFSO 21 initiatives to the process council.
“The reason we came to USAFE first (to do the quarterly process council meeting outside of Washington, D.C.) is because you guys are leading the way,” said Dr. Ronald C. “Ron” Ritter, the special assistant to the secretary of the Air Force for Smart Operations. “Other places in the Air Force are doing absolutely fantastic work, but this is one of the very important ‘beachheads’ for us. You’ve stepped out, paved the way, and made an example.”
Secretary Wynne and the MAJCOM generals had a chance to see some of the AFSO 21 initiatives firsthand by visiting three sites in the Kaiserslautern military community.
The 435th Air Base Wing’s vehicle maintenance process applied lean initiatives to their work center and vehicle repair and preventive maintenance processes. Over the last year, the team saved 49,398 walking miles between work centers, 15,900 man-hours and eliminated the need for a new vehicle maintenance facility, avoiding $8 million in construction costs.
The 596th U.S. Forces Police Squadron vehicle registration team applied transactional AFSO 21 principles to their operation and cut customer processing time from an average of 51 minutes, with many waiting several hours, down to just 18 minutes. That savings saves members of the Kaiserslautern Military Community approximately 21,600 hours of time waiting in line, a huge win.
Not to be outdone, the 86th Maintenance Group propeller repair shop reduced C-130 Hercules propeller repair time from 35 days to 5 days, eliminating $11.9 million worth of asset backlog and saved $1.3 million in shipping costs to stateside repair shops. Consequently, the shop earned the Air Force Best Practice Award at the 2006 Chief of Staff Excellence Awards. In addition, the group also created a mobile debrief truck that reduced aircrew debrief time 66 percent, from 90 minutes to 30 minutes.
Including several other AFSO 21 initiatives throughout USAFE, the command has saved more than $4 million and racked up $35 million in cost avoidance. Most importantly, the program expects similar savings each year for the next five years, USAFE officials said.
“What you brought is innovation and you’ve shown the process council that it can be done in a very disciplined and regular manner,” Secretary Wynne said. “You’ve shown that the innovation of Airmen should be appreciated across our Air Force and there’s no better way than to go and see what has been happening both here at Ramstein and throughout the U.S. Air Forces in Europe command.”