AFSO21 ... everyone must be a player

  • Published
  • By Col. Kenn Todorov
  • 23rd Wing vice commander
I know what you are thinking: another fad, another "bumper sticker," another case of Total Quality Management! 

It's particularly true for those of you who have been around a while. Over the years, our Air Force has looked for ways to improve things, often borrowing from the latest private sector craze. Those initiatives often fell short in their relevance toward military operations. 

However, this time, I think it's different. Air Force Smart Operations for the 21st Century is very far removed from TQM or anything we've ever tried before. When the Air Force attempted to implement TQM, we tried to fit the Air Force processes and culture into a box that could not accommodate our needs. 

With much effort, we tried but failed. TQM brought more work than it got rid of; AFSO21 will get rid of more work than it brings. AFSO21 is designed to purge waste of time and resources. 

The program takes a start-to-finish look at how each process is accomplished, assigns a primary owner and looks to streamline things. It's intended to eliminate those work processes or steps within work processes not providing value to the Air Force mission. 

By eliminating unnecessary steps, time can be better spent accomplishing tasks that provide value to the overall mission. It all boils down to producing more combat capability. 

As I make my way around our wing, I'm often questioned about AFSO21 and its importance. AFSO21 is a culture change that involves everyone. Its impetus is the need for the Air Force to drive continuous improvement and innovation beyond our technology advances and into our day-to-day processes. It's about providing Airmen with the tools to improve their daily lives. 

AFSO21 is working at Moody. We've invested in training facilitators to help and recently hosted two multi-day rapid improvement events. 

In a few short days and with the help of the facilitators, both teams broke down a specific process into a series of steps, examined each step to determine which ones added value and which ones did not, and then combined or eliminated steps to "lean" the overall process. 

We'll follow up with the team in 60 days to see how they're doing and to make sure they're receiving the support they need from their leadership to improve their day to day lives. It's that simple, and it works! 

While simple, we need your help to ensure success. I'm challenging you to open your mind to change. Resist cynicism and embrace AFSO21. I promise you the results may astonish and please you and, most importantly, allow us to better support our Airmen. 

Don't wait for an RIE or facilitator to improve your processes where you work. The more you take ownership of what you do, the better AFSO21 will work for our wing. Get involved, ask questions, take a hard look at the things you do on a daily basis and ask yourself this question, "What things can I eliminate in my job without adversely impacting my mission?" Then talk about those things with your supervisors and work together to "lean" your processes. 

There, you're on your way to becoming an AFSO21 believer, and for our wing and our Air Force to succeed in realizing our priorities, everyone must be a player.