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AFSO 21: Making good processes better

  • Published
  • By 2nd Lt. Crystal Vogt
  • 43rd Airlift Wing
Buuuuzzzzz! Wrong answer, try again. When the question arises of why a process is performed a certain way, a standard answer can be expected, "Well, that's just the way it's always been done." When given that response, don't accept it - challenge it. Instead ask, "Why has this area always performed this process this way?" 

Think of it in a different perspective. The Air Force Smart Operations 21 fact sheet says even good processes can be made better. The improvements must be centered on the core missions that Airmen are responsible for conducting. 

AFSO21 gives people the tools they need to shed unnecessary work and to ensure every Airman's efforts contribute directly to accomplishing the Air Force mission. 

There are many strategies AFSO21 uses to focus on achieving the desired outcomes. 

One honing tool is the five desired effects which guide improvement initiatives at every Air Force level to help meet the warfighter demands. They are to increase productivity, increase critical equipment availability, improve response time and agility, sustain safe and reliable operations, and improve energy efficiency. 

To achieve the five desired effects, a shop, office or individual should formulate each of the effects into a question using who, what, where, when, why and how. For example, "How does process X completed by office Z increase productivity?" Ask this for every single process and try not to automatically answer the questions. 

Think about it - eventually, Airmen become superstars of the processes performed while performance goes on autopilot. Habits are formed and training becomes susceptible to "the way it has always been done," and the consideration that there may be a more efficient way to perform a process is set aside. Individuals and groups often forget circumstances change: times change, environments change, people rotate and manpower decreases. 

Let's relate this to a current situation. When manpower is reduced by one or two people, individuals assume the reduction in personnel is a limiting factor and suddenly a day's work that was once so easy becomes too difficult. People have become conditioned to think, "I don't have enough manpower." Does this sound familiar? This is why the who, what, where, when, why and how is so important to ask every day, not when a roadblock occurs. 

Anyone can ask these questions. Even better, there's an office on base that specializes in looking at processes and giving suggestions for eliminating wasteful steps so there's extra time in the day to get other items accomplished. The AFSO office is available to assist every shop, office or individual on base. AFSO is only a phone call or e-mail away. 

For more information, call 2nd Lt. Crystal Vogt at (910) 394-2225 or Tech. Sgt. Joshua Armstrong at (910) 394-1554. To read the AFSO21 Fact Sheet, visit the AFSO21 site on the Air Force Portal.