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Senior leaders 'lean' on AFSO21

By Mike Joseph | 502nd Air Base Wing OL-A Public Affairs | Aug. 26, 2010

LACKLAND AIR FORCE BASE, Texas — Senior leadership from the 37th Training Wing spent a day learning how to reduce waste, maximize resources and improve efficiencies by using the Air Force Smart Operations for the 21st Century program.

AFSO21, a standardized approach for improving work processes and combat capabilities across the Air Force by fostering a culture of continuous process improvement, seeks to involve every Total Force Airman in developing that culture.

To emphasize making that cultural change at Lackland, 14 senior leaders from the 37th TRW spent their work day on Aug. 19 in AFSO21 training to learn terminology and participate in problem-solving exercises.

"With our recent changes in leadership, this was a great opportunity to put all the senior leaders in the same room to get the same perspective on what it will take to govern continuous process improvement in the 37th TRW," said Jerry King, 37th TRW plans and programs chief.

Mr. King, also the AFSO21 program manager and trainer, said the cultural change comes from every Total Force Airman - military, civilian, contractor or anyone else associated with the Air Force - understanding that it is their responsibility to improve the way they do work on a daily basis.

The training session showed the leaders how AFSO21 and its tools would enable their organizations to become lean. Lean, a standardized method for reducing waste in all processes used to execute the mission, has a goal to continuously pursue the identification and elimination of waste, adapting to change and continuous process improvement.

"AFSO21 is a great vision to ensure we are doing things in the right way, to continue improving processes and doing it smarter," said Col. Gregory Reese, the new 37th Training Group commander.

Col. Patrick Vetter, 37th TRW vice commander, said the training made him more aware of how the 37th TRW fits into the overall Air Force mission.

"The training and the process helped me understand where this wing fits into producing the combat capability of the Air Force, how we link to the Air Force mission, and how we can do it better," Colonel Vetter said. "It's about combat capability, and I saw clearly during this process where we fit and how what we do affects the greater Air Force."

Mr. King said the 37th TRW's mission is training Airmen and students in various career fields to provide combat capability for the Air Force in the most efficient and effective way possible.

He added it is important for all Airmen to become efficient in what they do, more productive, and use the least number of resources to produce combat capable students.

"My job is complete when every Total Force Airman, before they leave work, asks, 'what did I do to make the Air Force a better place today?'" Mr. King said. "If they can't answer that, then 'what am I going to do tomorrow?' When every Total Force Airman does that, I know AFSO21 is ingrained in our culture."